I am not what you would call an avid reader. For work, I’m constantly reading this or that commentary on the technology market, often in short-attention-span-approved blog or trade-journal prose. But, like many nowadays I suspect, I find I need to force myself to finish longer, more in-depth pieces.
Not surprisingly then, finding the time and the drive to read for personal pleasure is that much more difficult. Outside of the pre-digested Newsweek, Soccer America or magazines about cars or home electronics, not much gets my attention most weeks. Books, in fact, rarely get cracked open.
There is, however, one notable – and extremely unsurprising – exception. Books on soccer and/or soccer “culture.” Yes, I know… you’re shocked.
I am writing about this now because I just finished one of those “soccer culture” books – Among the Thugs, by Bill Buford. Saying it was about “culture” is difficult, because the subject matter, soccer hooliganism, is the antithesis incarnate of a civilized culture.
I don’t regularly read about hooliganism and am not one who is particularly enamored by its mystique. However, despite all of that, this book was enthralling. Even given a busy work schedule and two little ones who see an adult attempting to read as a jungle gym in waiting, it was easy to rip through the whole thing in a week or so. (Otherwise equal to two days on a pre-kids vacation, I’d guess.)
I also enjoyed another soccer classic that I finished before this, Fever Pitch, by Nick Hornby. To my surprise though, while I enjoyed it, my attention wasn’t grabbed in the way I was sucked into Among the Thugs.
The recent surge in soccer-reading (and recent Holiday arrival of a new book) got me thinking about the burgeoning collection of soccer-themed books I have sitting on the shelf. While modest, I figured it an interesting exercise to catalog what I have, fully expecting that I’ll be adding to it over time. In fact, there’s now a new “tab” on the site that takes you to the Soccer Soap Box Library page that includes only the book, title, page count and if I had read the book or not.
A few thoughts about my little collection that jump out at me…
- Book count? 30. I’ve read? 19.
- Pages read? 5744. Pages waiting to be read? 2364.
- Books in Spanish? Two. Books in Spanish that I’ve read? Zero. (I do, theoretically, read Spanish just fine.)
- Favorites? Soccer in the Sun and Shadow by Eduardo Galeano and Soccer Against the Enemy by Simon Kuper.
- Coffee Table Books? Four. I’ve read? Zero. Are on a coffee table? Zero.
- Most “text book” like? Winning At All Costs by John Foot, Inverting the Pyramid by Jonathan Wilson and Soccernomics by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski.
- Only autographed book? Captain for Life by John Harkes.
- Next to be read? A Season with Verona by Tim Parks. (A decision I just made to create this last bullet point.)
I would love to hear about other collections or favorites, and be sure to comment over on the Soccer Soap Box Library page about must-haves that I should be getting or about your thoughts on any of the books I have listed. One day when another bout of MLS offseason boredom puts me in the mood, perhaps I’ll add commentary around the books that I’ve read in some organized fashion.
And while I’m not much of a collector, there are two other wholly unsurprising areas that I may create a place to track on Soccer Soap Box. Soccer memorabilia (old black and white or otherwise unique soccer-related pictures adorn the home office, scarves from special games adorn the basement) and the dates and memories of the games I’ve attended outside the USA.
What’s your soccer collection?
Happy 2011 everyone.