In collaboration with Amazon, World Soccer Talk has compiled a comprehensive list of the top 18 football books on the beautiful game for your reading pleasure. If you’re looking for a good book to read, consider one of the titles on the following list. You will find a link to purchase the book from Amazon, as well as a link to engage in a book discussion group, at the bottom of each book listing. I encourage all of you who have read or are now reading any of the books listed below to post questions, observations, and book reviews so that the entire World Soccer Talk reader community can benefit from your contributions. Just a friendly reminder: please refrain from posting any spoilers for people who are presently reading the books.
In addition, you can listen to interviews with some of the authors below, in which they discuss their book as well as other insightful football topics.
The Damned Utd by David Peace
Brian Clough, the overachieving and eccentric football manager, was on his way to becoming the manager of the country’s most successful, and most loathed, football club: Leeds United. The club was home to a generation of fiercely competitive, but aging players, and Clough was poised to take over. The struggle he’d have to fight there would make or break the club – and possibly him as well. Author David Peace’s brilliantly imaginative novel, set in the desolate heart of the 1970s, tells the narrative of a world characterized by dread of failure and a fervent desire for achievement.
Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants by Søren Frank
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants is a documentary that takes you through the whole history of Manchester United, from its humble origins as Newton Heath LYR FC in 1878 all the way up to the Red Devils of the 2012/13 season and beyond. More than any other factor, the team’s ability to adapt to the problems it presently faces will be more important than any cup wins or championships. The question is whether it will reconnect with the past and the continuity of ideas that have supported the team throughout the years, the Manchester United ‘brand,’ or whether it will take a different path to the future.
Bloody Confused by Chuck Culpepper.
The Premiership soccer league and its overzealous fans are the subject of a piece written by Culpepper, a Los Angeles Times journalist based in London who covers European sporting events. Culpepper is on the verge of becoming jaded and cynical about the American sportswriting scene when he writes about it. Culpepper, who had covered American sports for 15 years, is instantly enthralled by the rough-and-tumble nature of British soccer as he learns about the rivalries between fans and teams such as Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Portsmouth, among others.
The Fix by Declan Hill
The Fix is the most sensational story of sports corruption in a generation, and it is based on true events. It chronicles the narrative of an investigative journalist who embarks on a journey to investigate the world of match-fixing in professional soccer, and it is fascinating, captivating, and compelling.
Inverting The Pyramid by Jonathan Wilson
Soccer fans are passionate about debating the tactics that a manager employs, and this intriguing research examines the development of tactics throughout history, from current pioneers all the way back to the beginning, when chaos ruled supreme. Jonathan Wilson, an erudite and detailed writer who never loses sight of the grand narrative sweep, examines the lives of the great players and thinkers who shaped the game, and discovers why the English, in particular, have proven themselves to be so “unwilling to grapple with the abstract,” as Wilson puts it. This is a modern masterpiece of soccer literature that fans of the game will return to time and time again for inspiration.
The Miracle Of Castel di Sangro by Joe McGinniss
Because of the growing popularity of soccer in North America, author McGinniss has written the story of how an Italian soccer team, Castel di Sangro from the Abruzzi region, rose through the ranks from the very bottom (Terza Categoria) to the top division (Serie BA), which was a remarkable achievement. Serie A, the world’s most prestigious football league, is reached through eight phases. The success of Castel di Sangro inspired the Italian press, which dubbed the club the “Lilliputi” as a result of the team’s accomplishments. In addition to providing a historical account of the team’s incredible season, this book offers the reader insights into the passionate world of Italian soccer. The voyage chronicles the challenges and tribulations that come with being a member of a professional sports team.
How Soccer Explains The World by Franklin Foer
Americans, who live in a country that regards soccer with the same suspicion as they do the metric system and the menace of killer bees, may find it difficult to truly comprehend the worldwide significance of the sport. However, throughout Europe, South America, and other parts of the world, soccer is more than just a recreational activity; it is frequently a representation of the social, economic, political, and racial composition of the towns that host both the teams and their hordes of adoring fans.
Author Franklin Foer, a lifelong soccer enthusiast who began with his own terrible adolescent playing days and has progressed to a lifelong obsession with the sport as an adult, investigates the role played by soccer in numerous countries as a means of exploring the reach of globalization. Rather than engaging in direct discussion of problems such as world commerce and the exportation of Western culture, Foer’s approach is heavy on soccer reporting, presenting comprehensive history and fascinating interviews on the Rangers-Celtic rivalry, as well as the inner workings of AC Milan.
Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby.
When it comes to memoirs, Fever Pitch is unlike the usual fare: there are no chapters, simply a series of match reports divided into three time periods (childhood, young adulthood, manhood). “Yorkshire men, Lancastrians, Scots, the Irish, blacks, the rich, the poor, even Americans and Australians have something they can sit in pubs and bars and weep about,” the then 15-year-old realized while watching the Reading v. Arsenal match on May 2, 1972: “It became embarrassingly obvious to me that my white, suburban, middle-class roots made me a wimp with no sense of identity.” A lad from Maidenhead, on the other hand, could only dream of hailing from a place with “its own tube station and West Indian community, as well as horrible, insurmountable social problems,” as the phrase goes.