I don’t know about you but summer is the only time that I actually get to read. Nothing’s better than turning off the phone, sitting by the ocean, and reading a good book. With that in mind, I present five books that should be on your reading list.
1. When the Dream Became Reality by Bobby Warshaw
I start the list with the book I read most recently. Warshaw played three seasons with FC Dallas before jumping to Scandinavia and eventually ending his career with his hometown club the Harrisburg City Islanders. It’s during that last phase that Warshaw caught my attention because he started to appear on the Dummy Podcast.
Much like the analysis he provides on various outlets, Warshaw’s book is full of insight that will give you a more complete understanding of life as a professional soccer player. Warshaw is blunt as he discusses what it’s like to be drafted, fight with a coach, and work with agents. The book is full of fun stories and meaningful lessons.
Here’s the biggest endorsement I can give: I finished the book in just one day because I couldn’t put it down. I definitely recommend it to anyone interested in soccer.
2. United States of Soccer by Phil West
This is another book I read recently, though it took me longer than a day (no offense). Through his writing, West tracks the development of Major League Soccer with great interviews from the people that were there.
As someone who didn’t start following the league until 2005, I really enjoyed the stories about the early days. One of my favorites involves a player who convinces an assistant coach to start his stopwatch a little later because the boys had a bit too much Olive Garden the night before their run.
This book is perfect for anyone who doesn’t know much about the league. That said, diehard fans will takeaway more than a few nuggets.
3. Thirty-One Nil by James Montague
You’ve surely heard of America Samoa’s infamous loss to Australia. If you haven’t then you need to watch the documentary Next Goal Wins, which tracks coach Thomas Rongen as he guides the nation to their first win.
This book takes it’s name from that epic loss but talks about so much more. Montague tells the lesser-known stories from World Cup Qualifying. You won’t hear about how Germany, England, or the United States got to Brazil 2014. Instead, you’ll be entranced by the stories from San Marino, Haiti, Lebanon, and more. This book looks at the less glamorous side of the world’s most beautiful game.
4. Eight World Cups by George Vecsey
Much like Thirty-One Nil, this book takes a different approach to discussing the World Cup. Written before Brazil 2014, Vecsey tells stories he’s gathered while covering every World Cup since Spain 1982.
This isn’t a history book but rather a narrative of what it’s like to cover such huge events. Vecsey talks about being there for Maradona’s “Hand of God” and Zidane’s headbutt. What I enjoy the most, however, are the descriptions of local culture. Some may want more soccer from Vecsey, but I really enjoyed hearing how different countries experience the World Cup.
5. Soccernomics by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski
This is one of the first soccer books I ever read and one that I still quote today. Kuper and Szymanski take an analytical look at the game we all love. You might not agree with all of their conclusions, but they’ll definitely make you think.
One of my favorite insights has to do with hair color. The authors note that scouts are more likely to suggest blond players because brown is the dominant hair color in the soccer world. Observations like this will make you see the game in a new light.