#ThirstyThursday is a new installment where I sit down with a cup of coffee and talk all things books! Feel free to leave comments on what you’d like to see here as well.
The World Cup started today! Since I’m stuck in the mindset of all things football, here is my list of awesome soccer related books that I’ve either read or want to read. These are in no particular order.
Soccernomics by Simon Kuper and Stefan Syzmanski: I read this book a few months ago and it was the perfect book to read right before the World Cup. It focuses more on national teams and why they either succeed or don’t succeed in the World Cup. I feel like a book like this should be revised every six or eight years to make sure that the information is updated, other than that it was an awesome book. It was published before 2010 so some things have changed, namely the dominance of Spain national team which is why I think it should be revised.
The synopsis: “Why do England lose? Why does Scotland suck? Why doesn’t America dominate the sport internationally…and why do the Germans play with such an efficient but robotic style?
These are questions every soccer aficionado has asked. Soccernomicsanswers them.
Using insights and analogies from economics, statistics, psychology, and business to cast a new and entertaining light on how the game works,Soccernomics reveals the often surprisingly counter-intuitive truths about soccer. An essential guide for the 2010 World Cup, Soccernomicsis a new way of looking at the world’s most popular game.” [via Goodreads]
Fun book with a lot of information. Super glad I read it before the World Cup.
The Numbers Game by David Sally and Chris Anderson: I read this a few months ago as well. It focused more on the stats of soccer and why they are important. Being a baseball fan that enjoys some saber stats, I found this book particularly interesting because the stats are basically trying to do the same things-
suck the fun out of the game dig deep into stats and find the important things about a player. This book had more math because saber stats deal with finding these random stats that sometimes include math. Parts of the book were confusing because of the math and because at the time of me reading it I was still trying to learn about the sport. If I re-read it now, it would probably make a lot more sense at those parts.
The synopsis: Moneyball meets Freakonomics in this myth-busting guide to understanding—and winning—the most popular sport on the planet
Innovation is coming to soccer, and at the center of it all are the numbers—a way of thinking about the game that ignores the obvious in favor of how things actually are. In The Numbers Game, Chris Anderson, a former professional goalkeeper turned soccer statistics guru, teams up with behavioral analyst David Sally to uncover the numbers that really matter when it comes to predicting a winner. Investigating basic but profound questions—How valuable are corners? Which goal matters most? Is possession really nine-tenths of the law? How should a player’s value be judged?—they deliver an incisive, revolutionary new way of watching and understanding soccer.” [via Goodreads]
Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby: I have yet to read this, but I have yet to hear one bad thing about it. It’s the ultimate fan written book and I’ve been told that every fan should read the book at some point. The amount of 5 star ratings that I see on Goodreads makes me think it’s a pretty good book for football fans. I am not an Arsenal fan, but I’ve been told that it’s more about the sport than it is Arsenal. Hopefully all the 5 star ratings and the recommendations don’t let me down.
The synopsis: In America, it is soccer. But in Great Britain, it is the real football. No pads, no prayers, no prisoners. And that’s before the players even take the field.
Nick Hornby has been a football fan since the moment he was conceived. Call it predestiny. Or call it preschool. Fever Pitch is his tribute to a lifelong obsession. Part autobiography, part comedy, part incisive analysis of insanity, Hornby’s award-winning memoir captures the fever pitch of fandom — its agony and ecstasy, its community, its defining role in thousands of young mens’ coming-of-age stories. Fever Pitch is one for the home team. But above all, it is one for everyone who knows what it really means to have a losing season” [via Goodreads]
Also there is no way that the book is any worse than the football-book-turned-annoying-chick-flick-baseball-movie
Fear and Loathing in La Liga by Sid Lowe: I actually own this book already but have yet to read it. By the title, it’s apparent that the book will focus on Spain’s intense top flight, also known as, La Liga. The book delves deep into the rivalry that is Barcelona and Real Madrid. Messi and Ronaldo, Guardiola and Mourinho, and so many other things. I’m not sure what first attracted me to this book. Possibly it was the awesome cover. Possibly it was my intense want for learning the history of football. Possibly it was my love of Messi AND Ronaldo and trying to make that work without making everyone hate me. Possibly it was because it looked like an interesting book and I wanted to buy a book. I’m going to say that it was a mixture of all of these. I’m hoping that it’s heavy on the rivalry and history.
The synopsis: Fear and Loathing in La Liga is the definitive history of the greatest rivalry in world sport: FC Barcelona vs. Real Madrid. It’s Messi vs. Ronaldo, Guardiola vs. Mourinho, the nation against the state, freedom fighters vs. Franco’s fascists, plus majestic goals and mesmerizing skills. It’s the best two teams on the planet going head-to-head. It’s more than a game. It’s a war. It’s El Clásico.
Only, it’s not quite that simple. Spanish soccer expert and historian Sid Lowe covers 100 years of rivalry, athletic beauty, and excellence. Fear and Loathing in La Liga is a nuanced, revisionist, and brilliantly informed history that goes beyond sport. Lowe weaves together this story of the rivalry with the history and culture of Spain, emphasizing that it is “never about just the soccer.” With exclusive testimonies and astonishing anecdotes, he takes us inside this epic battle, including the wounds left by the Civil War, Madrid’s golden age in the fifties when they won five European cups, Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona Dream Team, the doomed Galáctico experiment, and Luís Figo’s “betrayal.”
By exploring the history, politics, culture, economics, and language—while never forgetting the drama on the field—Lowe demonstrates the relationship between these two soccer giants and reveals the true story behind their explosive rivalry” [via Goodreads]
I am Zlatan by Zlatan Ibrahimovic: Do I really need to explain this one? He’s Zlatan and Zlatan is football. I would read anything that Zlatan wrote. I would read anything that was about Zlatan. I’m contemplating on buying Swedish stamps because they have Zlatan’s face on them. Give me everything Zlatan.
The synopsis: Daring, flashy, innovative, volatile—no matter what they call him, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of soccer’s brightest stars. A top-scoring striker with Paris Saint-Germain and captain of the Swedish national team, he has dominated the world’s most storied teams, including Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, and AC Milan. But his life wasn’t always so charmed.
Born to Balkan immigrants who divorced when he was a toddler, Zlatan learned self-reliance from his rough-and-tumble neighborhood. While his father, a Bosnian Muslim, drank to forget the war back home, his mother’s household was engulfed in chaos. Soccer was Zlatan’s release. Mixing in street moves and trick plays, Zlatan was a wild talent who rode to practice on stolen bikes and relished showing up the rich kids—opponents and teammates alike. Goal by astonishing goal, the brash young outsider grew into an unlikely prodigy and, by his early twenties, an international phenomenon.
Told as only the man himself could tell it, featuring stories of friendships and feuds with the biggest names in the sport, I Am Zlatan is a wrenching, uproarious, and ultimately redemptive tale for underdogs everywhere.” [via Goodreads]
He’s Zlatan. I don’t need to say anything more.
Have you read any of these books? Any other football books you think I should read?