Great reads about a great game.
1. Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby
“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 men’s 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.”
2. The Charlton Men by Paul Breen
“The Charlton Men, the first part of a trilogy set in South London, combines literary fiction with a love of football. Set in the historic surrounds of Greenwich and Charlton, the novel interweaves the rich heritage of the area’s past with contemporary themes of social disenfranchisement and a search for meaning.”
3. The Bones of a Season by Paul Breen
“Fergus Sharkey has come from Ireland to London and settled in the historic surroundings of Greenwich, fabled home and birthplace of time. There the Irish immigrant falls in love with a northern English rose named Katy Prunty and soon begins to follow the fortunes of the local football team, Charlton Athletic.
“To affirm the love of his team, Fergus decides to get a tattoo of the club badge, but this causes friction between Fergus and Katy and sets in motion the gradual decaying of their romance during the course of the football season. When Katy leaves for the coast, Fergus becomes embroiled in a relationship with the tattoo artist Dyana, whose young friend, a grime musician, has recently been gunned down in the street in broad daylight.
“Set against the backdrop of Charlton Athletic’s football fortunes, and a crime network that lurks on the horizon, Fergus begins to uncover the answers to the musician’s murder as well as the layers of his decaying romance.”
4. The Penalty by Mal Peet
“As the city of San Juan pulses to summer’s sluggish beat, its teenage soccer prodigy, El Brujito, the Little Magician, vanishes without a trace — right after he misses a penalty kick and loses a big game for his team. Paul Faustino, South America’s top sports reporter, is reluctantly drawn into the mystery of the athlete’s disappearance. As a story of corruption and murder unfolds, Faustino is forced to confront the bitter history of slavery and the power of the occult. A deftly woven mystery flush with soccer and suspense, this gripping novel is a thrilling read not to be missed.”
5. The Game of Our Lives: The Meaning and Making of English Football by David Goldblatt
“In the last two decades football in Britain has made the transition from a peripheral dying sport to the very centre of our popular culture, from an economic basket-case to a booming entertainment industry. What does it mean when football becomes so central to our private and political lives? Has it enriched us or impoverished us? In this sparkling book David Goldblatt argues that no social phenomenon tracks the momentous economic, social and political changes of the post-Thatcherite era in a more illuminating manner than football, and no cultural practice sheds more light on the aspirations and attitudes of our long boom and now calamitous bust.”