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Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream
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Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  53,341 ratings  ·  2,725 reviews
Return once again to the enduring account of life in the Mojo lane, to the Permian Panthers of Odessa -- the winningest high school football team in Texas history. Odessa is not known to be a town big on dreams, but the Panthers help keep the hopes and dreams of this small, dusty town going. Socially and racially divided, its fragile economy follows the treacherous boom-bu
Mass Market Paperback, 357 pages
Published September 28th 2004 by Da Capo Press (first published 1988)
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Julia I am from the states and not a football fan. I am just as confused about plays and such as I was when I played in the marching band at my Texas high s…moreI am from the states and not a football fan. I am just as confused about plays and such as I was when I played in the marching band at my Texas high school and had to go to every game. Luckily, it does not dwell too much on the technicalities of the game, but on the social impact on a town and the kids involved, and how much is riding on the results.

So, rules are not explained... but you kinda don't need to understand them.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.13  · 
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 ·  53,341 ratings  ·  2,725 reviews

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Jun 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, 2012, for-kindle
This book is heartbreaking.

I grew up in a very liberal part of the country. My family is comprised mostly of hard-working European immigrants who value education above all else. In many ways, I should be the last person able to appreciate or understand life in small-town Texas with its conservative values and its unhealthy obsession with high school sports. Yet, I actually did attend a private junior/senior high school with a hockey program that is probably the best in the country. We won the st
Oct 01, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was on an airplane one Friday night when I was reading this book. As the plane took off from Cleveland I noticed a high school football game in progress. I could see the lights.. the two teams on the field.. the crowd and the marching band. I watched the field as long as I could. Just at the point when I couldn't see the stadium anymore my eye caught the lights of another football field. Then.. when I looked out over the countryside I noticed that there were football games in most of the small ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
May 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: Philip
Shelves: sportsing, read2016
"Life really wouldn't be worth livin' if you didn't have a high school team to support."
In the Reading class I am teaching in May 2016, I challenged my students to read a book from a genre they had not read. I played along, and ended up reading an Amish romance and this sports book. One reading friend talked about this book on an episode of the Reading Envy podcast and made it sound pretty compelling, sports or no sports.

"You'd watch these kids play, and it seem like somethin' burning would be i
Mar 03, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
If you think this book is about high school football in Texas, you're pretty much wrong. There is a fair amount about football, but this book is really a sort of sociological study of a small Texas town where Football is played. There is a lot about the difficulties of the local economy after the oil slump, and in general the book gives what I thought was a fairly negative view of the people and their preoccupations.

I almost never like movies better than books, but in this case I thought the mo
I didn't grow up in a football-watching family. My father, who apparently loved the game, passed away when I was young. My mother was much more interested in baseball, and had coworkers with season tickets, so I grew up going to the Kingdome to watch Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, Joey Cora, Edgar Martinez, Jay Buhner, Dan Wilson... I even spent my high school prom night at Safeco Field, watching Freddy Garcia pitch a great game against the Yankees (who he'd eventually join, years later, sigh) ...more
Jun 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sports, non-fiction
If you love football, Friday Night Lights likely will be the best sports book you've ever read. If you don't love football, and aren't an avid nonfiction reader? FNL likely will be the best nonfiction book you've ever read.

FNL is about the stories communities tell themselves. It's about how we live our values, collectively, how we relate to one another, how we motivate ourselves, our priorities, how we rationalize public policy, spending, the ways we view and talk about race, high school. It's a
Aug 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a fantastic book. I felt sick to my stomach reading it.

I played football in high school in a place where there was much more than high school football for most people to do on a Friday night. I can relate to some aspects of the story: football games were the only sporting events in my school where admission was charged, they drew probably five times the attendees of any other sport, and we wore our jerseys proudly to school on pep rally days and were probably afforded more attention as a
Feb 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
It's not a surprise that I loved this book. It is about high school football.

I watched a lot of football growing up (Friday nights: high school football; Saturday: University of Colorado football; Sunday: NFL football - I was a huge 49ers fan). I probably could have done something great with all the hours I spent watching football. Ah well.

My high school football team won the state championship, and I remember it as a glory day - it was snowing, the team was playing in then-Folsom Field (the U
Jul 29, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My friends Matt & Cassie introduced us to the television show "Friday Night Lights" this past winter. I had only heard of it on blogs before then and never really paid any attention to it.

Wow, was I late to the party. The television show is excellent and I highly recommend it, even if you don't like football.

Being the bookworm that I am, I had to find the inspiration for the television show. I actually bought a copy of the book for my friend Matt for Christmas and the four of us eventually decid
Aug 13, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: reporting, sports
Dear Mr. Bissinger,

I think watching the Intelligent Squared debate you were in is great. I loved the television series based on this book. I learned something about myself while reading this. Even good writing such as yours, does not make me care a whit about football.

Apr 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“You live in a fairy tale for that one year of your life,” said his wife. “You’re worshiped, and that year is over and you’re like anyone else.”

Friday Night Lights is a very well written and balanced read. One part aspirational, one part tragedy, one part Texas history and one part nostalgia. That is for anyone who ever played or even went to a high school where football was king.

I don’t know how the author, Bissinger, was able to hit this one out of the park, to mix my metaphors. But he did s
Oct 01, 2009 rated it did not like it
I'm glad I bought this at Half Price Books so the author didn't make any money off of me. I always read the forward of any book and this one, the author tells you up front he is looking for a sport to bash to be the next "A Season on the Brink" and Texas makes an easy target. The writer tells you he has an opinion of Texas before he heads south and writes the story based on his preconceived notions, not anything he actually saw in Texas.

The writer finds negative stories about Texas history and
Will Byrnes
Oct 26, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Bissinger, a writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer, chronicles a year in the life of Odessa Texas, and more particularly the Permian High School Panther football team, the social nexus of this third rate town. It follows the stories of players for the team, present and past, as well as a look at some of the opposition, the events surrounding the season, the history and economics of the town, and finds a microcosm of the larger world. It is very interesting reading.

P 230
[Odessa is an oil boom and
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In 1988 Philadelphia sportswriter H.G. Bissinger journeyed to Western Texas to see what was up with the state's winningest high-school football team. He put not only the Permian Panther's football program under his analytical lens, but the entire city of Odessa in West Texas that surrounds it. Mojo -- that shorthand for football support that shows up on everything from newspaper titles to bumper stickers to hand-lettered signs the cheerleading Pepettes placed in their assigned players' front yar ...more
Lukas Kott
Sep 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I think Friday night lights was actually a really cool book and I enjoyed reading it and didn't have to force myself to read it. Was a great sport about football and life in high school. Living in Texas how it's different living their in a small town that's so passionate about the sport they play and it means so much to everyone in the town. I wanted to feel like I was in the town and one of the football players.
"Clear eyes. full heart. Can't lose" - Coach Taylor I like this quote because it's t
This true story is an incredibly powerful telling of the role football played for this group of young men growing up in rural West Texas in the 1980's. I felt completely immersed in the world the author captured and was I captivated by how he managed to show both the positives and the negatives of such a world, often at the very same time. It felt honest and raw, and I didn't want it to end.

"the solemn ritual that was attached to almost everything, made them seem like boys going off to fight a
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book that Bissinger wrote while embedded with the 1988 Permian Panthers and living for a year with his family in Odessa, Texas. Bissinger's book not only focuses on the high school football team's quest to win state, but he also provides an understanding of the people who make up the town, its history, and their views on everything from politics to race. For those people who are looking to understand white people in rural America who are likely Trump voters, I found that this book provided ...more
Zach N
May 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
I liked this book because of the suspense leading up to the playoff's. As silly as it seemed to have the teams to ake the playoff's determined with a coin flip, that just added so much suspense and really kept me glued to the book. I love sports books, and this was a perfect example of a good sports book, i recommend this book for any sports fan/player. ...more
Carol Storm
Mar 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Classic reporting, but needs more football and less patronizing social commentary on those poor ignorant Texans and how they "cling" to oil and football! ...more
Deacon Tom F
Jul 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Spectacular Story

Was an amazing story about a high school football town and high school football team. It really goes deep into what it means to be a high school player and team in a small Texas town.

It may be one of the finest books I’ve ever read and I highly recommend it to you not for the football but for the people.
Oct 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
CJ Herron

Mrs. Ebarvia

World Lit


H.G. Bissinger was born in New York City in November of 1954. He spent time writing for the Philadelphia inquirer. Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger is about a small town in Texas called Odessa. Permian High school football is a way of life and almost every kid dreams of wearing the black and white under Friday night lights some day. Permian’s goal in the 1988 season was to reach the state championship. The competition is high and the road is tough, but
Neil Powell
Feb 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is about so much more than American Football. On the surface, it tells the story of the Permian Panthers, the high school football team from Permian High School in Odessa, Texas. It focuses on 6 of the senior players and some of the coaching staff. It gives us accounts of their backgrounds, families and their feelings about school, life and playing football.

The season in question (1988) was supposed to be the year where the team were too good, they were meant to win the state champion
Nov 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Affecting, amusing, alarming, appalling account of the winningest high-school football team in Texas. (Apparently this review was brought to you by the letter A.) Along the way, Bissinger discusses popularity, racism, sexism, fresh-baked cookies, memories, oil, home economics, class conflicts, statutory rape, algebra, the savings-and-loan crisis, lowered expectations, skewed priorities, algebra, and armed robbery.

Some of my favorite passages:

Coach Belew: "I want one hell of a wreck out there. I
Sep 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This 'non-fiction novel' began a little slowly and it was slightly confusing to differentiate the teammates in the first twenty or so pages. However, it quickly becomes gripping and entertaining to follow the ups and downs of this high school football team's '88 season. The sociology of the impact on the small town Texas setting (the state's unofficial motto: "Play Football or Die") is also fascinating. Highly recommended. ...more
First Second Books
Recommended by Gene Luen Yang! What more do I really need to say?

Also: really interesting about sports and racial politics.
Oct 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Really enjoyed most of this. The actual football games though... snooze.
Lynn Lebo-Planas
Apr 09, 2017 rated it liked it
There are some really interesting sections about the condemnation of football and the institutional racism in a town like Odessa, but it felt loooooooong and could have lost about 50 pages.
Jun 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One character strength Crow and Bobo have is persistence. They show this on the football field because it takes more than one tackler to bring them down.
Sep 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I give exactly 0% of my brain space to football so this book caught me totally off guard because I loved it! It was a fascinating look at Odessa, a West Texas sister town to wealthier but just as mangled in its own way, Midland. Bissinger followed the Permian Panthers high school football team on their quest to become state champions and did a wonderful job showing the importance of high school football not just to the Odessa community, but Texas as a whole and the way it brought people together ...more
Jonathan Mckay
Jun 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
33rd book of 2020. When Competition is Everything.

Reading through Friday Night Lights, I couldn't help but marvel at twin formative experiences growing up:

First is my own experience with high school competition. In my last year at high school, I missed more than a third of school days, and slept through the remainder I attended. I remember flying to tournaments, scouting opponents in preparation for state competition, and even fearing the elite Texas schools who took competition to a whole new
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H.G. Bissinger has won the Pulitzer Prize, the Livingston Award, the National Headliner Award, and the American Bar Association's Silver Gavel for his reporting. The author has written for the television series NYPD Blue and is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair. He lives in Philadelphia. ...more

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