A reader’s perspective on Basketball or the lack thereof
I know I felt a little insulated from all the initial chaos and cancellations taking place in Asia and Europe in January and February. Then, all of a sudden within a week sports leagues and events were cancelled; things here started to shut down and it all became very personal. Interesting how you don’t mind being at home when you know you don’t have to be there but its different and a little less fun when you don’t have a choice.
So for this month, I just couldn’t face all those dystopian books we love while we are all living our own versions of it. Although I don’t watch a lot of basketball anymore I do make an exception for both the women’s and men’s March Madness games. I love how unpredictable and emotional it is when it’s at this level. I just can’t imagine the disappointment for those college seniors who have sacrificed, practiced and worked so hard for a shot at the national championship; or any of the players or coaches really, not knowing if they’ll get that far again next year. No closure, ever. Just over.
Agreed, it’s not the March Madness basketball drama and entertainment that we are used to but there are some pretty good basketball themed books out there to help take the sting out of the cancellation of the NCAA’s showcase games. As usual I’ve picked a few books to highlight but before I get to those, here are a few also worth reading on their own merits: Lucy J Madison’s Personal Foul (features a professional basketball referee and a player), Lynette Mae’s Rebound, Renee J Lukas’ Southern Girl and Annameekee Hesik’s The You Know Who Girls: Freshman Year.
One that comes to mind when I think about basketball books (well not the title since I have to admit I had to do some searching to find it, but the premise behind the story) is Kenna White’s Romancing the Zone (2006). Liz Elliot was a star basketball player at the same college that her daughter now plays for and ends up having the opportunity to go back to Ashton and take advantage of the last year of a scholarship she abandoned decades ago for reasons that become clear and I don’t want to spoil. Coach Sheridan Ross can’t imagine a nearly forty-year old varsity player on her roster especially one that is years past her prime. There is just enough basketball that basketball fans won’t be disappointed and less devoted/non-basketball followers will still enjoy. I was around the same age as the two main characters when this book first came out and well, who doesn’t want a chance to relive their glory years or have at chance for a redo? There are of course, player/coach sparks and a slow burn that doesn’t offend ethical boundaries. Gotta like it.
I’m a big fan of all her books and admittedly this is probably not Lynn Galli’s most popular novel but I really enjoyed Full Court Pressure (2010, 2014). It features Graysen Viola who arrives in town expecting to coach the local college’s women’s basketball team and instead finds herself coaching the floundering men’s team. I think that Galli realistically portrays the issues that arise (acceptance, lack of respect and trust, misogyny). There are more sports action/technical basketball scenes in this novel and less emphasis on the romantic story line but there is an HEA. Galli has written a number of series including the Virginia Clan. The prequel Virginia Clan Book 0 At Last (2017) is an expanded novella that features a romance between the brilliant Willa Lacey and Quinn Lysander, a professional basketball player. Tons of chemistry between the two main characters and we get to revisit some of the clan while we see how these two initially came together.
Eliza Andrew’s To Have Loved & Lost (Rosemont Duology 1, 2016) is the first book I’ve read by the author but not the last. Alexis, who is an MVP point guard for a NCAA women’s basketball team, is on the fast track to a black hole when she meets Graham who has her own demons. On the long side (over 400 pages yeah!) it is a gritty, character driven love story with plenty of angst, redemption, basketball action and sex/romance. Highly recommend it and as an added bonus the Rosemont Duology is available on KU.
There’s definitely no shortage – others I have come across over the years (but not necessarily read then all) include Taylor James’ Emrick, Change and Second Chance, Q. Kelly’s Coach M and Coach Z, Micheala Lynn’s At All Costs, Rachel Maldonado’s Rookie, KC Richardson’s Taking a Long Shot, Riley Scott’s Small Town Secrets, ML Skinner’s Fast Break, M.E. Tudor’s Second Chances.
Hopefully some of these will help you fill some of that downtime we are all looking at these days. If I’m missing one of your favourites or want to share your views on any of these books please head for the comments area to share.