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Can I tell you a secret? I was late to the Ted Lasso train. I started the first season when the second season was coming to a close and honestly? I don’t know what took me so long. The series has everything one can ask for in a comfort show: an easy-to-root-for main character, a swoony, banter-filled romance (including an incredible use of the grumpy-sunshine trope), an underdog sports team filled with likable players, a jilted ex-wife set on revenge, and, of course, the game of soccer — or football to everyone else outside America.
Lucky for us, we don’t have to wait long for Season 3 to premiere. The first episode drops on Apple TV on March 15th. Until then, I thought you might enjoy some books with the same beloved themes and tropes as the series, which you can find below!
I’m a huge Backman fan, and Beartown may be one of my favorites by the Swedish author. While the heart of the story revolves around a small town ice hockey community, the grander themes of unity, loyalty, camaraderie, and friendship will appeal to Ted Lasso fans. The story follows the junior ice hockey team of Beartown, who has a shot at winning the national semi-finals. But when one of its star players commits a shocking, violating act, the town and its community begin to divide. (Content warning: sexual assault).
If you’re a nonfiction and memoir fan like me, then you won’t want to miss this autobiography of Brazil’s all-time record goalscorer. Pelé is a legendary footballer, but he allows readers to get to know him as he takes them all the way back to his childhood. This book chronicles his life story and rise to fame, along with personal challenges and struggles he endured along the way.
The Bromance Book Club
Of course I can’t help but include some romance on this list. After all, Ted Lasso doesn’t shy away from the genre, and we can’t help but root for characters like Roy and Keeley. The Bromance Book Club follows Gavin, Nashville Legends second baseman, whose strained relationship with his wife becomes even more tumultuous when he discovers she’s been faking orgasms. But when Gavin finds a secret romance book club filled with none other than Nashville’s alpha men, he begins using the text as well as coaching from the fellow guys to save his marriage.
Speaking of romance, this one is set within the world of football — American football, that is. When Marlee discovers her NFL boyfriend of 10 years has been cheating, she decides that she’s done dating athletes. But she doesn’t expect to encounter Gavin, a fling from her past, when he joins the team as the new quarterback. Marlee is interested, but still burned by her past. Gavin is also interested and determined to win her over. Worst of all? The NFL wives aren’t exactly welcoming Marlee back into their inner circle.
If you can’t get enough of sports romances, especially ones with spice, then you’re going to want to dive into Icebreaker. Grace’s novel follows Anastasia, a competitive figure skater, and Nathan, captain of his ice hockey team. When they’re forced to share a rink, leading to Anastasia’s partner getting injured, Nathan fills in. There’s just one problem: Anastasia’s never been a fan of hockey players.
Play for Me
Grumpy/sunshine enthusiasts who love forced proximity will have to wait until summer to read this romance, as it comes out later this year. Sophie used to be the head athletic trainer for the Red Sox until she lost both her dream job and her boyfriend. After accepting a position at an arts-focused boarding school, she moves in with three guys, one of whom (Jonas) is a piano-playing grump. But these art school kids aren’t exactly into sports. Rather than being discouraged, Sophie tries to win over Jonas and help her new students.
Audiences have watched Ted — a sunny, optimistic character — undergo mental health struggles in both seasons of Ted Lasso. Bright-Sided is an intriguing read for those interested in a deep-dive of toxic positivity. In her nonfiction book, Ehrenreich studies positivity as an American frame of mind and unpacks the pitfalls of always trying to remain in a positive state of mind, which can lead to self-blame.
Dust Bowl Girls
Ted Lasso is a story about sports underdogs and a talented coach who believes in them, among many other things. And if you love books that are based on true events, then don’t miss Dust Bowl Girls. In the early 1930s, the charismatic Sam Babb began recruiting resilient young women to play for the Cardinals, a basketball team, in exchange for a college education. The team was special, and the women began to find a passion for the game, for each other, and for their coach. And so, they began to win. Set during a fleet of historic hardships, including drought, depression, and scrutiny toward female athletes, the Cardinals were a beacon of hope and inspiration.