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Soccer Reading (Get it? It’s a play on Summer Reading)

May 24, 2010

With 17 days before the World Cup, we wanted to give you a way to fulfill your need for soccer. No, not going out and playing it, that is just nonsense. No, not FIFA (although it helps take the edge off). We wanted to give you a list of books you can read between now and then to hone your soccer knowledge (if you are a long time soccer fan), or maybe give you a greater understanding of the game. Here are a few that we humble bloggeurs at Fluffing the Lines recommend.

Soccer in Sun and Shadow by Eduardo Galeano

This book stands apart from the rest because of Gaelano’s poetic style. Rather than give a straight forward history, Galeano examines soccer as a series of moments in chronological order, conveying to each moment a giant importance and beauty. While his passion for the games radiates from every sentence, sometimes so does his bias for Uruguay, his native country. This doesn’t stop the book from being a powerful and joyful history of the world’s favorite game.

Soccernomics by Simon Kuper and Stefan Syzymanksi

This recent book is a unique look at soccer written by an economist and a journalist. They use economic methods (such as regression analysis), to explore some pertinent questions about the modern game and how it is played. If you enjoyed Michael Lewis’s Moneyball, this is as close as you get with soccer books. They try to debunk popular myths about soccer, as well as determine just why modern soccer is the way it is.

Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby

This is not as much a book about soccer as it is a book about fandom. Hornby grew up loving and watching Arsenal FC, and this delightful memoir narrates the highs and lows of the club since the 1960’s. If you are an American interested in soccer, I highly suggest you read this book to understand just how important soccer can be to fans overseas, even if the Nick Hornby model of fandom is not as prevalent as may be suggested. Regardless of whether you know a lot about soccer or not, Hornby is funny and touching in his assessment of his obsession.

Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Soccer by David Winner

This brilliant book gives a concise history of Dutch soccer. More than that, though, Winner explores the Dutch psyche and tries to unearth what exactly it is that makes them tick. Why did they fall apart in the 1976 World Cup final after going up a goal in the second minute, having scored without Germany touching the ball? Winner tries to find the answer to that question and many others in the sociology, culture, and history of the Netherlands.

Winning at All Costs: A History of Italian Soccer by John Foote

This gigantic tome is an encyclopedic history of Italian soccer. Foote leaves no stone unturned, examining the Italian game from its conception in port towns to the Calciopoli scandal that rocked the Italian league four years ago. What Foote lacks in being concise he makes up for in the depth and accuracy of his history. If you want to understand the Italian game and how it developed, this is the book to read.

How Soccer Explains the World by Franklin Foer

This book is not at all what it claims to be. You will walk away from this book knowing nothing about globalization as it relates to soccer. What you will learn, however, are several interesting facts about soccer that you didn’t know before. Foer examines various issues in the world game, from the Old Firm rivalry to antisemitism, all the while informing you about interesting issues in the modern game. Don’t read it for the economics, read it to learn about various aspects of soccer across the globe.

Let us know what you think of these books, and any other you might have read.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Ray permalink
    May 25, 2010 10:55 AM

    What about Among the Thugs and Bloody Confused…

  2. In Arsene We Trust permalink
    May 25, 2010 12:08 PM

    I’ve actually never read either, but you did make me realized I forgot Kick the Balls by Alan Black. I’ll probably correct that later today.

  3. Greg permalink
    May 26, 2010 5:53 PM

    You’re forgetting “Inverting the Pyramid,” by Jonathan Wilson. Best book out there o formations and their evolution over time.


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