As a latecomer to the Apple TV+ show Ted Lasso, I was initially annoyed by all of the recommendations swirling around from everyone. As soon as I watched, I totally got it. I’m planning a trip to London as soon as I can and will go on a self-directed Ted Lasso tour. I am also on the lookout for books like Ted Lasso.
Not only is the show funny, there is a real investment in the characters and their wants, as well as great scenes of soccer playing. Despite the fact that I agree with critics of the show who are a little put off by the “white man who knows nothing comes to save the town and succeeds, despite still knowing nothing” narrative, I can’t bring myself to be anything but charmed by the team and the town (and Ted’s relentless confusion about British versus American culture). It’s like how I watch Gilmore Girls for the town of Stars Hollow, not the Gilmores.
The show is so appealing, especially for those who have spent the past year dealing with terrible news every day, because it feels like a warm hug and every character gets a moment of success or personal growth. There’s a perfectly drawn love connection between Keeley and Roy, while Ted uses his consistent ability to find the positives to help all of the players do their best at the game. The two major parts of Ted Lasso that resonated with me were the sports success plot line and the fish-out-of-water narrative. Moving to a new city is hard anyway, but moving to a new country with the entire community bearing down on you and calling you a “wanker” ratchets up that tension.
These books like Ted Lasso capture some of those same feelings.
Feel-Good Sports Books Like Ted Lasso
Running With Lions by Julian Winters
If you’re looking for a sports read with a super endearing main character and a coach who supports him, this is the book for you. Sebastian is the goalie of the Bloomington High School Lions soccer team, and things are going amazingly well for him. However, when he arrives at summer training, he runs into his old rival Emir, who is still not a fan. Determined to do what is best for the team, Sebastian reaches out to Emir and finds that friendship can be rekindled, as well as something more.
Check Please! Book 1: Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu
You might have been hearing about this comic for a long time since its web comic days. Jack is an immediately endearing character (reminiscent of Sam Obisanya) with his softness bumping up against the insanity of college hockey. Like Ted Lasso, any sort of softness in traditionally masculine sports is welcome. Jack is a patisserie-obsessed former figure skater who joins the Samwell University hockey team. It’s much more than he expected, and Jack has to learn how to play a much more intense game. First impressions aren’t what they seem, and a beautiful relationship develops with Jack and his hardcore teammates.
Well Played by Katrina Ramos Atienza
This is a Pride and Prejudice–inspired romance through the perspective of a young female football player at University. Patrice is all set to start a perfect year dominating the football team and maybe getting some face time with her crush. However, she gets stuck in a semester-long partnership with Paul, who is arrogant and cold and not at all what Patrice wants. The dorm setting is the perfect modern analogue for Pride and Prejudice because they’re all in the same social circle, whether they like it or not, which has the vibe of a Regency ball to me. Paul is also the perfect Darcy in his absolute flop flirting technique.
The Infinite Noise by Lauren Shippen
It’s always fun to wonder what would happen if the X-Men just went to therapy, and this book is the answer to that. Even though Caleb appears to be very normal, he is actually an Atypical who feels the emotions of everyone around him. When Caleb gets overwhelmed by the domineering emotions of Adam, his therapist Dr. Bright suggests he pursue a friendship with Adam to figure out what’s connecting them so much. This is a story of mental health, connection, and the difficulty of being Atypical in a society that has trouble accepting you.
Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert
If you’re a fan of the other Brown Sisters books, you are aware that Eve is a bit all over the place. Eve Brown goes to interview for a chef position at a Bed and Breakfast, but the boss is the immovably un-fun Jacob Wayne, who tells Eve in no uncertain terms that she is not right for the job. After she hits him with her car and he breaks his arm, Eve starts to help Jacob out at the B&B and he gets worn down by her sunny, anarchic way of life. It’s a sweet book where Eve manages to charm Jacob and everyone else with her positive outlook. There’s nothing more Ted Lasso than that.
Alex in Wonderland by Simon James Green
Although in this book Alex is just going to work at Wonderland in his hometown, he is very shy and going at it alone because his friends are gone for the summer. Wonderland is the typical beach town arcade and general amusement space, and Alex quickly falls for his coworker Ben, but it gets complicated. Alex and the other Wonderland workers also take on the cause of protecting the failing amusement park, coming together as a team to win the big game save Wonderland.
Well Met by Jen DeLuca
Relocating to a new city and getting involved in something that people in the town care about to an almost terrifying degree? Check. Emily moves to Willow Creek to help her sister get back on her feet, but then she joins the local Renaissance Faire playing a wench alongside Simon. Simon hates her non-traditional approach to his family’s Faire, and makes it known how little he appreciates her weird ideas. Emily quickly finds unexpected joy and comfort in Willow Creek, alongside her budding enemies-to-lovers situation with Simon. It’s a sweet, engaging read with two sequels so you can keep yourself occupied while waiting for season two.
Find Super-Specific Book Recs
When we love something as much as so many people loved Ted Lasso, we get hungry for more media exactly like the thing we loved so much. While we’re all waiting on the second season, you can find a ton of Ted Lasso read-alikes with Book Riot’s TBR service! TBR bibliologists are incredible at getting a hyper-specific recommendation and giving you a ton of read-alikes to satisfy your bookish appetite. If you’re hungry for more books like Ted Lasso while you’re waiting, TBR is the perfect place to get your media recommendations.