When not reading blogs, we recommend reading books — hold-in-your-paws, turn-the-pages, dead-tree books. Digital, stare-at-yet-another-screen “books” are acceptable. Barely. Soccer works have been stacking up at Insider world headquarters. This is, by no means, a definitive list. Just a few recent arrivals, plus some older titles worth revisiting:
“Eight World Cups: My Journey Through the Beauty and Dark Side of Soccer,” by George Vecsey (Times Books, available May 13). The New York Times columnist and author, the conscience of American soccer writers for decades, recounts his globe-trotting adventures to the sport’s grandest stage (Spain 1982 to South Africa 2010), as well as qualifiers and competitions in between.
“Distant Corners: American Soccer’s History of Missed Opportunities and Lost Causes,” by David Wangerin (Temple University Press, available March 28). The late author of “Soccer in a Football World” traces the deep roots of the world’s game in American sport and culture and its struggle for mainstream acceptance. Published in 2011, “Distant Corners” is being released in paperback.
“Pele: Why Soccer Matters,” by Pele with Brian Winter (Celebra Books, available in April). Edson Arantes do Nascimento — soccer’s most revered player and perhaps the 20th century’s most popular athlete — shares memories of childhood, a professional career that took him to New York, Brazilian excellence, World Cup’s return to his native land this summer and the future of the game.
“The Crew,” by Dougie Brimson (Caffeine Nights Publishing, available in May, first published in 2011). The author of more than a dozen books, including “March of the Hooligans,” turns to fiction with a tale of men on opposite sides of the law: a cop in the National Soccer Intelligence Unit and an elusive trouble-maker forming an all-star gang of thugs to follow England’s national team to Italy.
“Party Brazil Phrasebook 2014: Slang, Music, Fun, Futebol,” by Alice Rose, Nati Vale & Jadson Cacador (Ulysses Press, available this month). Before packing for the World Cup this summer, learn how to say “The ref is a thief!” or “Let’s sleep off our hangovers at the beach” in Portuguese. The conveniently small-format book also offers tips about the host cities and venues, players, music, culture and food.
“Fodor’s Rio de Janeiro & Sao Paulo.” The updated version of the traditional tour book includes an eight-page guide to the World Cup. Almost everyone traveling to Brazil this summer will, at one point or another, pass through these two dissimilar cities. The book includes everything you would expect from Fodor’s: hotel, restaurant and cultural recommendations, plus language and travel tips.
“Futebol: Soccer, the Brazilian Way,” by Alex Bellos (Bloomsbury, published in 2002). While on assignment in South America for the Guardian, this British-born journalist searched for the soul of Brazilian soccer and produced a timeless gem full of stories about “the players, the myths, the legends, the art, the history, the supporters, the romance, the heartbreaks.” Read it, and then read it again.
“The Miracle of Castel di Sangro: a Tale of Passion and Folly in the Heart of Italy,” by Joe McGinniss (Broadway Books, published in 2000). The acclaimed author’s death two weeks ago stirred memories of his colorful work about a lower-tier club from a remote village that reached new heights. The book introduced a memorable cast of characters and chronicled both the passion and darkness of calcio.