Ten Books That Feature Athletic Characters

Posted September 26, 2017 by Kim in top ten tuesday / 8 Comments

top ten tuesday is hosted by the broke and the bookish.

The Deal by Elle Kennedy
Series: Off-Campus (#1)
Published: February 24th, 2015
Publisher: Createspace

She’s about to make a deal with the college bad boy… Hannah Wells has finally found someone who turns her on. But while she might be confident in every other area of her life, she’s carting around a full set of baggage when it comes to sex and seduction. If she wants to get her crush’s attention, she’ll have to step out of her comfort zone and make him take notice…even if it means tutoring the annoying, childish, cockycaptain of the hockey team in exchange for a pretend date. …and it’s going to be oh so good All Garrett Graham has ever wanted is to play professional hockey after graduation, but his plummeting GPA is threatening everything he’s worked so hard for. If helping a sarcastic brunette make another guy jealous will help him secure his position on the team, he’s all for it. But when one unexpected kiss leads to the wildest sex of both their lives, it doesn’t take long for Garrett to realize that pretend isn’t going to cut it. Now he just has to convince Hannah that the man she wants looks a lot like him.

When it comes to the fair share of New Adult I’ve read, the Off-Campus series is some of the best the genre has to offer. If you’re partial to college hockey romances, The Deal is simultaneously familiar yet refreshing. Perhaps it’s Elle Kennedy’s writing or her sassy characters, but it’s good. It’s really, really good.

Kuroko No Basket by Tadatoshi Fujimaki
Series: Kuroko’s Basketball
Published: August 16th, 2016
Publisher: Viz Media, LLC

Tetsuya Kuroko doesn’t stand out much. In fact, he’s so plain that people hardly ever notice when he’s around. Though he’s just as unremarkable on the basketball court, that’s where his plainness gives him an unexpected edge—one that lets him execute awesome moves without others noticing! When incoming first-year Taiga Kagami joins the Seirin High basketball team, he meets Tetsuya Kuroko, a mysterious boy who’s plain beyond words. But Kagami’s in for the shock of his life when he learns that the practically invisible Kuroko was once a member of “the Miracle Generation”—the undefeated legendary team—and he wants Kagami’s help taking down each of his old teammates!

I’d wholeheartedly recommend the anime adaption of Kuroko’s Basketball, especially to manga readers who don’t connect with the art style in the earlier volumes. Going to the manga was a hard sell at first because the animation is so good and it covers the whole series anyway.  It’s a manga I never thought would get translated in English, but the premise follows the split of the Generation of Miracles and their essentially supernatural abilities to play basketball.

“The only one who can beat me is me.” – Aomine Daiki

He is so cocky and I live for it.

Diamond No Ace by Yuji Terajima
Series: Ace of Diamond
Published: March 7th, 2017
Publisher: Kodansha

Eijun Sawamura had his heart set on the middle-school national baseball championships. But his team is eliminated thanks to a wild pitch thrown by Eijun himself. He’s planning to go to high school with his teammates and try again next year when he’s scouted by the famous Seido High School Baseball team. When he goes for a campus visit, he finds himself on the receiving end of a baptism by fire! His experience forming a battery with up-and-coming catcher Miyuki rekindles his passion for baseball!!

It’s a little hard to explain why I’ve ended up so attached to this series but I’ve watched the anime multiple times. When I saw the first episode it didn’t necessitate a binge watch and was easy to forget about. It was the first time I saw a mixed (although there is only one girl) team in a shonen sports manga though. Diamond no Ace is a story about Eijun’s chance recruitment to a powerhouse baseball school. I’m still waiting for the day he can shoulder the ace number. I just want him to do it while he can still form a battery with Miyuki under Coach Tesshin, who is my favorite mentor in almost all sports manga. Plus, I’m also ridiculously attached to the original Seido third-years (especially Yuki), Narumiya, Harada, and then there’s Raichi with his bananas.

 

Yowamushi Pedal by Wataru Watanabe
Series: Yowamushi Pedal
Published: December 15th, 2015
Publisher: Yen Press

For the love of all things otaku–anime, video games, figures, you name it!–power-pedaling Sakamichi Onoda has long been conquering the steepest slopes and regularly making the ninety-kilometer round-trip to Akihabara on a granny bike!! But when his bike commute to his new high school lands him in a confrontation with the serious first-year road racer Imaizumi, Onoda has a major showdown on his hands! Can this meek geek really out-pedal the future ace of the school road-racing team?!

It’s a bonding experience when you find a person who shares the same interests as you. There’s a certain connection I formed with Onoda because he’s so passionate about what we both love (I mean anime not bicycling because in what world can I bike like he does). Yowamushi Pedal is really driven forward by the third-years though, which breaks my heart because you know they’re going to graduate and dip from the story. Cycling is super intense here, and it’s a nice rush for fans of sports manga and its occasional cheesiness and abundance of team spirit.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo Series: Six of Crows (#1) Published: September 29th, 2015
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company

Criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker has been offered wealth beyond his wildest dreams. But to claim it, he’ll have to pull off a seemingly impossible heist: Break into the notorious Ice Court (a military stronghold that has never been breached) Retrieve a hostage (who could unleash magical havoc on the world) Survive long enough to collect his reward (and spend it) Kaz needs a crew desperate enough to take on this suicide mission and dangerous enough to get the job done – and he knows exactly who: six of the deadliest outcasts the city has to offer. Together, they just might be unstoppable – if they don’t kill each other first.

I was incredibly tempted to consider a talent for murder and mayhem a sport, and Kaz Breckker would definitely top the list of favorite morally questionable characters. However, Inej more than deserves her due for all the things she’s done in this duology. I really tip my hat off to her incredible balance as an acrobat. I can’t even walk in a straight line sometimes.

The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic
Series: All for the Game (#1)
Published: January 15th, 2013
Publisher: Createspace

Neil Josten is the newest addition to the Palmetto State University Exy team. He’s short, he’s fast, he’s got a ton of potential—and he’s the runaway son of the murderous crime lord known as The Butcher. Signing a contract with the PSU Foxes is the last thing a guy like Neil should do. The team is high profile and he doesn’t need sports crews broadcasting pictures of his face around the nation. His lies will hold up only so long under this kind of scrutiny and the truth will get him killed. But Neil’s not the only one with secrets on the team. One of Neil’s new teammates is a friend from his old life, and Neil can’t walk away from him a second time. Neil has survived the last eight years by running. Maybe he’s finally found someone and something worth fighting for.

This ensemble of broken characters gathered together at Palmetto State University because they had indisputable talent for the fictional sport of Exy. It’s one of the few sports stories that isn’t centered on it’s eventual LGBTQIA romance, and instead features incredible character progression and enough snark to last me for years of happiness.

 

Katekyo Hitman Reborn by Akira Amano
Series: Reborn!
Published: October 4th, 2014
Publisher: Viz Media, LLC

HERE COMES REBORN! Junior high student Tsuna is a failure at school, sports, and social life. He needs a Mafia hit man tutor like he needs a hole in the head…and he’s about to get both! When Reborn, a fedora-wearing, gun-toting toddler, arrives and says he’s come to groom Tsuna for his future as boss of an Italian organized crime family, Tsuna is more than a little skeptical. But Reborn may have the “magic bullet” necessary to turn Tsuna’s life around!

It takes a lot of athleticism to dodge bullets, mafia members, evil take-over plots, trigger-happy babies, and Lambo.  Katekyo Hitman Reborn remains one of my favorite manga and anime of all time. The first couple arcs of the series are usually considered fillers until we meet Mukuro Rokudo. It’s a series that started out marketed for its slice-of-life episodic gags and comedic effects, but it transforms into a story with a nice amount of character development. It is home to a large cast of my favorite characters who are pure fun to watch. I’m still a little bitter about it being cut off with the ending it had, especially because Akira Amano built such an arc for Tsuna to develop from the boy who always ran away to a leader who always valued life. I just wanted to see the Vongola Tenth, not a return to volume one Tsuna. Also, Yamamoto plays baseball so he’s definitely athletic.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Series: Harry Potter (#3)
Published: May 1st, 2004
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.

Harry Potter’s third year at Hogwarts is full of new dangers. A convicted murderer, Sirius Black, has broken out of Azkaban prison, and it seems he’s after Harry. Now Hogwarts is being patrolled by the dementors, the Azkaban guards who are hunting Sirius. But Harry can’t imagine that Sirius—or, for that matter, the evil Lord Voldemort—could be more frightening than the dementors themselves, who have the terrible power to fill anyone they come across with aching loneliness and despair. Meanwhile, life continues as usual at Hogwarts. A top-of-the-line broom takes Harry’s success at Quidditch, the sport of the Wizarding world, to new heights. A cute fourth-year student catches his eye. And he becomes close with the new Defense of the Dark Arts teacher, who was a childhood friend of his father. Yet despite the relative safety of life at Hogwarts and the best efforts of the dementors, the threat of Sirius Black grows ever closer. But if Harry has learned anything from his education in wizardry, it is that things are often not what they seem. Tragic revelations, heartwarming surprises, and high-stakes magical adventures await the boy wizard in this funny and poignant third installment of the beloved series.

Quidditch is prevalent since the first installment of Harry Potter, and Harry had the talent and a nice broom to begin with. It’s an admittedly biased choice to feature my personal favorite book in this series (and not just because I still can’t make it past Umbridge in the Order of the Phoenix on every re-read). Special characters I love are introduced in the third book though, along with an even cooler broom that puts the Nimbus to shame.

Hajime no Ippo by Joji Morikawa
Series: Hajime no Ippo
Published: February 9th, 1990
Publisher: Kodansha

Makunouchi Ippo is an ordinary high school student in Japan. Since he spends most of his time away from school helping his mother run the family business, he doesn’t get to enjoy his younger years like most teenagers. Always a target for bullying at school (the family fishing business grants him a distinct odor), Ippo’s life is one of hardship. One of these after-school bullying sessions turns Ippo’s life around for the better, as he is saved by a boxer named Takamura. He decides to follow in Takamura’s footsteps and train to become a boxer, giving his life direction and purpose. Ippo’s path to perfecting his pugilistic prowess is just beginning.

I have a tendency to prefer clean lines and “pretty” artstyles, and Hajime no Ippo’s older publication date didn’t look promising. This is another series with an anime adaption that came highly recommended and the season three animation is especially impressive. Hajime no Ippo is an heavy investment of time, but it has incredible pay-off. It’s exciting to follow the journey of how a champion boxer worked his way up and got better with every match. Ippo still has a world out there to tackle.

All Played Out by Cora Carmack
Series: Rusk University (#3)
Published: May 12th, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

First person in her family to go to college? CHECK. Straight A’s? CHECK. On track to graduate early? CHECK. Social life? …..yeah, about that…. With just a few weeks until she graduates, Antonella DeLuca’s beginning to worry that maybe she hasn’t had the full college experience. (Okay… Scratch that. She knows she hasn’t had the full college experience). So Nell does what a smart, dedicated girl like herself does best. She makes a “to do” list of normal college activities. Item #1? Hook up with a jock. Rusk University wide receiver Mateo Torres practically wrote the playbook for normal college living. When he’s not on the field, he excels at partying, girls, and more partying. As long as he keeps things light and easy, it’s impossible to get hurt… again. But something about the quiet, shy, sexy-as-hell Nell gets under his skin, and when he learns about her list, he makes it his mission to help her complete it. Torres is the definition of confident (And sexy. And wild), and he opens up a side of Nell that she’s never known. But as they begin to check off each crazy, exciting, normal item, Nell finds that her frivolous list leads to something more serious than she bargained for. And while Torres is used to taking risks on the field, he has to decide if he’s willing to take the chance when it’s more than just a game. Together they will have to decide if what they have is just part of the experiment or a chance at something real.

I’ve started and put down a few of Cora Carmack’s other books, but All Played Out was a fun ride from beginning to end. It’s been a long while since I read this book, but I hope I remember correctly that it was funny and enjoyable. Football romances are typically fail-safe as a fast read, even if they aren’t perfect. There’s one scene I remember vividly where the couples of the previous books and our main characters play a Frisbee game together. Truthfully, I just want to a be a girl genius like Nell.

Do you enjoy reading books focused on sports? Do you play any sports personally?

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8 responses to “Ten Books That Feature Athletic Characters

  1. Interesting topic. I’m not into sports at all, so I guess it’s not surprising that I don’t read books about sporty people. I would have thought of HP as a sporty series, but you’re right, Quidditch is definitely prevalent in the books.

    Happy TTT!

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