There is plenty of soccer action this summer. The Euro just got under way in France while here in the USA, Copa America Centenario reached its definite stages. Since summer is also the time to chill under the sun with a book in your hands, we thought we could give you a few kind suggestions.
'Soccer In Sun and Shadow' by Eduardo Galeano
An absolute classic. Uruguay-born writer Eduardo Galeano was very celebrated for his novels and left-wing stances. In Soccer in Sun and Shadow, written as a series of mini-essays on the different actors in the game, he is at his absolute best. Some players are named but the most important thing are the roles and objects that make this the king of all sports, from the referee to the soccer lunatic. It even has an entry on how an empty stadium feels. This is a lyrical, even melancholy, homage to the game we all love. Poetry and soccer rejoice.
'God Is Round' by Juan Villoro
Few countries feel soccer with more emotion than Mexico. So it comes as no surprise that one of the biggest Mexican writers around has written the best books on everything surrounding the beautiful game. Though God Is Round is pure literature, Villoro’s sociology background is ever present in his searching – and finding – what soccer tells us about the world and the fleeting beauty of a ball kissing the net.
'Garrincha: The Triumph and Tragedy of Brazil's Forgotten Footballing Hero' by Ruy Castro
No soccer list is complete without a Brazilian on it. But this time it’s not Pelé or Ronaldinho’s turn, but the lesser-known Garrincha. Journalist Ruy Castro follows the life of one of South America’s greatest players, and ends up writing a biography of the whole country. This is the classic rag-to-riches story of a small boy who could barely walk straight and ended up a World Cup star. Through its entertaining and complex main characters, you will understand what is behind Brazilian passion for futebol. Warning: the ending is sad – not all soccer figures live to tell the tale.
'Diego Maradona' by Mark Weinstein
No sport reading list is complete without some autobiographies. Maradona needs no introduction. What we can tell you is that his autobiography (originally published as Yo soy el Diego de la gente in Spanish) is as a witty and controversial as the man himself. It is rare to see an athlete (or ghost writer, who cares) write with such clarity. Telling incredible anecdotes about the Argentinean national team and his beloved Boca Juniors, this first-hand summary of the last 30 years of the game should be in your beach bag.
'Salvajes y Sentimentales' by Javier Marías
The only book in Spanish on this list is written by celebrated writer Javier Marías. Even if he is a little unknown in the US, in Europe books like Tomorrow in the Battle Think On Me and A Heart So White are contemporary classics. But before considering himself novelist, Marías considers himself a die hard Real Madrid fan who still follows soccer as “a weekly return to childhood.” In Salvajes y Sentimentales you will find a very interesting array of articles regarding all things soccer. He might be a little subjective while talking about the merengues, but we all know that soccer is always followed with the heart, not the brain.
'Why Soccer Matters In Latin America' by Joshua H. Nadel
Our own Joshua H. Nadel is author of one of the best English-language books on soccer in Latin America, exploring politics and nationalism. Joshua, who is an associate professor of History at North Carolina Central, writes in a singular voice of the beautiful game in a region full of beauty and contradiction.
In Why Soccer Matters in Latin America, Joshua wisely explains how the story of women’s soccer is challenging to Latin American machismo. Nadel is an erudite writer, and if you want to learn more about soccer from a sociological perspective, you definitely must read him.