81 books like Circus Maximus

By Andrew Zimbalist,

Here are 81 books that Circus Maximus fans have personally recommended if you like Circus Maximus. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Celebration Capitalism and the Olympic Games

Jacqueline Kennelly Author Of Olympic Exclusions: Youth, Poverty and Social Legacies

From my list on the Olympics that the IOC doesn’t want you to know.

Why am I passionate about this?

I wasn’t really interested in the Olympics until they came knocking at my door. I lived in Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Olympics Bid. When a plebiscite was called, the Yes side plastered the city with billboards explaining why everyone should want the Olympics. Simultaneously, a much less resourced but vocal opposition argued that hosting would be an environmental, social, and economic disaster. The two sides were so far apart that my curiosity was piqued. When I began a postdoctoral fellowship in the UK, I realized that they, too, were in the midst of similar debates, as hosts of the 2012 Summer Olympics. From here a research project was born.

Jacqueline's book list on the Olympics that the IOC doesn’t want you to know

Jacqueline Kennelly Why did Jacqueline love this book?

Jules Boykoff has been writing about the Olympics for a very long time.

His work is smart, readable, well researched, and grounded in reality. He also happens to have been an Olympic soccer player. So he’s got credibility as a guy who values sports, yet still thinks the Olympics have a lot to answer for.

Celebration Capitalism is the book where Jules lays out his theory of how the Olympics, and other mega-sporting events, capitalize on sports celebrations to further enrich the rich, and impoverish the poor.

He builds on Naomi Klein’s concept of ‘disaster capitalism’ to make this argument, and in my opinion, it’s bang on. 

By Jules Boykoff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Celebration Capitalism and the Olympic Games as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Olympic Games have become the world's greatest media and marketing event-a global celebration of exceptional athletics gilded with corporate cash. Huge corporations vie for association with the "Olympic Image" in the hope of gaining a worldwide marketing audience of billions.

In this provocative critical study of the contemporary Olympics, Jules Boykoff argues that the Games have become a massive planned economy designed to shield the rich from risk while providing them with a spectacle to treasure. Placing political economy at the center of the analysis, and drawing on interdisciplinary research in sociology, politics, geography, history, and economics, Boykoff develops…


Book cover of Understanding the Olympics

Jacqueline Kennelly Author Of Olympic Exclusions: Youth, Poverty and Social Legacies

From my list on the Olympics that the IOC doesn’t want you to know.

Why am I passionate about this?

I wasn’t really interested in the Olympics until they came knocking at my door. I lived in Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Olympics Bid. When a plebiscite was called, the Yes side plastered the city with billboards explaining why everyone should want the Olympics. Simultaneously, a much less resourced but vocal opposition argued that hosting would be an environmental, social, and economic disaster. The two sides were so far apart that my curiosity was piqued. When I began a postdoctoral fellowship in the UK, I realized that they, too, were in the midst of similar debates, as hosts of the 2012 Summer Olympics. From here a research project was born.

Jacqueline's book list on the Olympics that the IOC doesn’t want you to know

Jacqueline Kennelly Why did Jacqueline love this book?

If you want a broader overview of where the modern Olympics came from, why they have persisted, and what major issues they continue to face, look no further than Understanding the Olympics by John Horne and Garry Whannel.

This book is now in its third edition, and with each update, Horne and Whannel keep the book on top of the most recent Olympics shenanigans. Although not exclusively critical of the Games, Horne and Whannel provide a thorough overview of the pros and cons of these massive mobile mega-events.

By John Horne, Garry Whannel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Understanding the Olympics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How did the Olympics evolve into a multi-national phenomenon? How can the Olympics help us to understand the relationship between sport and society? What will be the impact and legacy of the Olympics after Tokyo in 2020? Understanding the Olympics answers all these questions by exploring the social, cultural, political, historical, and economic context of the Games.

This thoroughly revised and updated edition discusses recent attempts at future proofing by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in the face of growing global anti-Olympic activism, the changing geo-political context within which the Olympics take place, and the Olympic histories of the next…


Book cover of Inside the Olympic Industry: Power, Politics, and Activism

Jacqueline Kennelly Author Of Olympic Exclusions: Youth, Poverty and Social Legacies

From my list on the Olympics that the IOC doesn’t want you to know.

Why am I passionate about this?

I wasn’t really interested in the Olympics until they came knocking at my door. I lived in Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Olympics Bid. When a plebiscite was called, the Yes side plastered the city with billboards explaining why everyone should want the Olympics. Simultaneously, a much less resourced but vocal opposition argued that hosting would be an environmental, social, and economic disaster. The two sides were so far apart that my curiosity was piqued. When I began a postdoctoral fellowship in the UK, I realized that they, too, were in the midst of similar debates, as hosts of the 2012 Summer Olympics. From here a research project was born.

Jacqueline's book list on the Olympics that the IOC doesn’t want you to know

Jacqueline Kennelly Why did Jacqueline love this book?

This is the grand-mere of contemporary critical Olympic literature.

Helen Lenskyj was one of the first scholars to draw attention to the problematics of the Games, including human rights abuses, displacement of homeless populations, and elite scandals that ought to send law-abiding citizens running. It continues to be a powerful and relevant read for anyone interested in peeking behind the curtains of the Olympic behemoth.

By Helen Jefferson Lenskyj,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Inside the Olympic Industry as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Analysis from the perspective of those adversely affected by the social, economic, political, and environmental impacts of hosting an Olympic Games.


Book cover of Hosting the Olympic Games: The Real Costs for Cities

Jacqueline Kennelly Author Of Olympic Exclusions: Youth, Poverty and Social Legacies

From my list on the Olympics that the IOC doesn’t want you to know.

Why am I passionate about this?

I wasn’t really interested in the Olympics until they came knocking at my door. I lived in Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Olympics Bid. When a plebiscite was called, the Yes side plastered the city with billboards explaining why everyone should want the Olympics. Simultaneously, a much less resourced but vocal opposition argued that hosting would be an environmental, social, and economic disaster. The two sides were so far apart that my curiosity was piqued. When I began a postdoctoral fellowship in the UK, I realized that they, too, were in the midst of similar debates, as hosts of the 2012 Summer Olympics. From here a research project was born.

Jacqueline's book list on the Olympics that the IOC doesn’t want you to know

Jacqueline Kennelly Why did Jacqueline love this book?

John R. Short is another scholar who has been blowing the whistle on the hidden costs of Olympic Games, especially for host cities, for many years.

In this recent release, written for a popular audience, he provides some history of the Games, but, more importantly, a step-by-step breakdown of why the Olympics costs cities much more than the IOC or bidding committees would like you to believe.

He also includes a thorough list of ‘further reading’ resources (and my book plus almost all of the authors on this list are on it!).

By John Rennie Short,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hosting the Olympic Games as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hosting the Olympic Games reveals the true costs involved for the cities that hold these large-scale sporting events. It uncovers the financing of the Games, reviewing existing studies to evaluate the costs and benefits, and draws on case study experiences of the Summer and Winter Games from the past forty years to assess the short- and long-term urban legacies for host cities.

Written in an easily accessible style and format, it provides an in-depth critical analysis into the franchise model of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and offers an alternative vision for future Games. This book is an important contribution…


Book cover of The Football Business: Fair Game in the '90s?

Stephen Morrow Author Of The People's Game? Football, Finance and Society

From my list on football as a game, as business, and as community.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up I was fanatical about football - playing, watching, reading and talking about it. I was also a little obsessed with its numbers, and apparently liked to recalculate league tables and goal differences in my head as the results came in on the BBC vidiprinter. Fast forward to University in the 1980s - a time when studying football’s business aspects was not common - I wrote my dissertation on the ‘Capital structure of Scottish football’. A Scottish perspective has remained present in much of my work, and I hope it also allows a little more distance when reflecting on the success and challenges faced by football in England.

Stephen's book list on football as a game, as business, and as community

Stephen Morrow Why did Stephen love this book?

David Conn’s book was first released in 1997, just a few years after the inception of the English Premier League.

It was the first critical evaluation of the new business of football, in which he sought to understand what was being lost as the game was transformed into a branch of the entertainment industry, while at the same time accepting the many unarguable benefits that were accompanying that transformation.

Its quality and importance are evidenced by the fact that it has been republished at least five times.

It remains essential reading for anyone who wants to understand more about the opaque world of football finance, governance, and ownership.

By David Conn,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Football Business as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In eight years English football has been transformed. In 1989 clubs were banned from Europe and the Hillsborough disaster exposed football's crumbling grounds. Today football is cleaned up and is also big business. Since the Taylor report forced English clubs to spend #600 million rebuilding their grounds, and since Sky and the BBC put #1 billion into the game, serious businessmen have arrived in football, and have mostly been welcomed because of the money they were "investing" into the "long-term health of the game". This book examines the transformation and asks is it still a game or a business?


Book cover of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer

Ronnie Close Author Of Cairo's Ultras: Resistance and Revolution in Egypt’s Football Culture

From my list on Egyptian politics and the 2011 Revolution.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a writer and filmmaker based in Cairo for over a decade. I was inspired to move to Egypt when I visited during the 2011 Revolution and fell in love with the vibrance of the city. Since then Cairo has changed and I have lived through an extraordinary history with some difficult times but always with a sense of curiosity for stories. My book, Cairo’s Ultras, began as a documentary film project in 2012 and I have found many other interesting topics during my time in this enigmatic and fascinating place. I will publish a second book next year, called Decolonising Images, that looks at the photographic heritage and visual culture of Egypt.

Ronnie's book list on Egyptian politics and the 2011 Revolution

Ronnie Close Why did Ronnie love this book?

I found this book very informative when I started researching my book on the Ultras fans in Egypt. It is an in-depth look at the football history in the Middle East and North African region. 

The author, James Dorsey, has real-life experiences of Cairo and other places in the region when he worked as a journalist for decades before turning to his attention to soccer. This book grew out of a blog of the same name with a wide readership and this is the most significant book on the football politics available. The section on Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood comes from an expert’s eye as he picks up the details and explains the situation to the reader. The book is a journey around the troubled landscape of the Middle East to discover the mix of history, cultures, and politics of the Arab world through soccer.

By James M. Dorsey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

James M. Dorsey introduces the reader to the world of Middle Eastern and North African football - an arena where struggles for political control, protest and resistance, self-respect and gender rights are played out. Politics was the midwife of soccer in the region, with many clubs being formed as pro- or anti-colonial platforms and engines of national identity and social justice. This book uncovers the seldom-told story of a game that evokes deep-seated passions. Football fans are shown to be a major political force and one of the largest civic groups in Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood: their demands for…


Book cover of Citizens and Sportsmen: Fútbol and Politics in Twentieth-Century Chile

Gregg Bocketti Author Of The Invention of the Beautiful Game: Football and the Making of Modern Brazil

From my list on sports in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Why am I passionate about this?

For almost thirty years, I have studied and tried to understand Latin America and the Caribbean. As a historian I have worked with manuscripts and newspapers and books, in archives and libraries and private collections, but I’ve learned my most important lessons elsewhere: on the baseball diamond in Holguín, Cuba, at pick-up cricket matches in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, and in soccer stadiums in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Buenos Aires. These books help give us a sense of the power of such places, the power of sports to reveal the region, and as such they’re a great place to start to understand it. 

Gregg's book list on sports in Latin America and the Caribbean

Gregg Bocketti Why did Gregg love this book?

As is the case everywhere, sports in Latin America are deeply political, and students of Latin America have noticed how leaders like Juan Perón and Fidel Castro have used sports to gain followers and shape their nations. In her impressive work on Chilean soccer, Brenda Elsey demonstrates that it is not only charismatic leaders who have understood sports’ political utility. She shows how Chilean workers and labor activists used soccer to construct their communities and defend their class interests in the midst of rapid capitalist expansion during the twentieth century, reminding us that sports are not only arenas of athletic activity; they are also always venues for practicing citizenship.

By Brenda Elsey,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Citizens and Sportsmen as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Futbol, or soccer as it is called in the United States, is the most popular sport in the world. Millions of people schedule their lives and build identities around it. The World Cup tournament, played every four years, draws an audience of more than a billion people and provides a global platform for displays of athletic prowess, nationalist rhetoric, and commercial advertising. Futbol is ubiquitous in Latin America, yet few academic histories of the sport exist, and even fewer focus on its relevance to politics in the region. To fill that gap, this book uses amateur futbol clubs in Chile…


Book cover of Jaz Santos vs. the World

Abena Eyeson Author Of Looking Up

From my list on stories about the Black child in Britain.

Why am I passionate about this?

Ghanaian-born, I came to Britain aged twelve with my family and was always a lover of stories.  Now a PhD-educated mum of three, it niggled that there weren’t many novels with a Black child as the protagonist, especially a Black British one. As a creative who’d acted and performed poetry in the past, I set out to write a story about a Black child in Britain overcoming challenges.  Inspired by anecdotes of children remaining with relatives in their home country as their parents moved to Britain to make a life before sending for them, I was interested in writing a story about such a child after they arrived in Britain.

Abena's book list on stories about the Black child in Britain

Abena Eyeson Why did Abena love this book?

I love this empowering story about Jaz, a sensitive, caring Black British girl who sets up a girls’ football team to prove to her mum that she is a star so that her mum will return home. As a reader, I found myself rooting for Jaz as she got into trouble (unfairly) and faced challenge after challenge. Priscilla, the writer, deals sensitively with issues of anxiety, fear, and rejection. Though girls football features heavily in the book, you don’t have to be into football to enjoy the book—I know next to nothing about it. A heart-warming and uplifting read.

By Priscilla Mante,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jaz Santos vs. the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE CHILDREN'S SPORTS BOOK OF THE YEAR 2022

The first book in THE DREAM TEAM series.

'Exciting, original and heart-warming' - Jacqueline Wilson

'Priscilla Mante is an author to watch' - Aisha Bushby

---

A relatable, inclusive story about families, unlikely friendships and girl power. Perfect for fans of Ella on the Outside and Jacqueline Wilson.

Ola! I'm Jasmina Santos-Campbell (but you can call me Jaz). You've probably heard of me and my football team the Bramrock Stars before. No? Well, you will soon because we're almost famous!

Forming the Stars was my genius idea - you see…


Book cover of Bea Is for Blended

Laurie Morrison Author Of Coming Up Short

From my list on for athletes and non-athletes alike.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always loved watching and playing sports, and now I love writing about them, too. As a former teacher, I’ve seen firsthand how sporty books appeal to sporty kids. But after publishing my novel Up for Air, which is about a star swimmer, I’ve been struck by how many readers tell me they connected deeply with the main character even though they don’t like sports at all. That made me think about what makes sports stories resonate, and now I look out for books that capitalize on all the most exciting and relatable things about sports while also offering compelling hooks to readers with all sorts of interests.

Laurie's book list on for athletes and non-athletes alike

Laurie Morrison Why did Laurie love this book?

This heartwarming novel is full of soccer, touching family dynamics, and girl power. It stars a feisty sixth-grader named Bea who has to adjust to a new house, a new school, a new blended family, and a new neighbor who’s gunning for her position on the soccer field. At first, Bea is determined to look out for herself and protect her turf, but then she and her neighbor team up to fight against sexism and form the first-ever all-girls squad. The team dynamics in this book will make any reader cheer. Soccer fans will love the on-field action, but this gem of a novel also has humor, emotional depth, delightful and inspiring characters, and even references to the beloved Katherine Paterson novel Bridge to Terabithia!

By Lindsey Stoddard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bea Is for Blended as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Girl power scores a goal in this uplifting story of teamwork, new beginnings, and coming together to fight for what’s right—perfect for fans of Lisa Graff and Lynda Mullaly Hunt.

Bea and her mom have always been a two-person team. But now her mom is marrying Wendell, and their team is growing by three boys, two dogs, and a cat.

Finding her place in her new blended family may be tough, but when Bea finds out her school might not get the all-girls soccer team they’d been promised, she learns that the bigger the team, the stronger the fight—and that…


Book cover of Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Soccer

Gavin H. MacPhee Author Of Connecting the Continent: The Birth of the European Cup and Football's Golden Age

From my list on understanding the amazing global history of men's soccer.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a Scottish writer who has been obsessed with soccer from an early age. I devour books, new or old, on any topic related to the game and have an extensive collection of books, old and new, that keeps outgrowing my bookshelves. I love learning more about the history of the game and especially new soccer cultures.

Gavin's book list on understanding the amazing global history of men's soccer

Gavin H. MacPhee Why did Gavin love this book?

It’s tricky to recommend one book that just covers one footballing culture, but when a book is this good, it’s hard to leave out. The justification is that the Dutch have had an enormous influence on modern soccer, and it is their ideas of soccer and manipulation of space that are present in all of today’s top teams.

I bought this book as a 17-year-old, and it was a defining moment in my youth. I read it every five years or so. It is so thought-provoking and illuminating.  I learned about art, politics, land reclamation, and, of course, the master Johan Cruyff.

By David Winner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Brilliant Orange as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

If any one thing, Brilliant Orange is about Dutch space and a people whose unique conception of it has led to the most enduring arts, the weirdest architecture, and a bizarrely cerebral form of soccer―Total Football―that led in 1974 to a World Cup finals match with arch-rival Germany, and more recently to a devastating loss against Spain in 2010. With its intricacy and oddity, it continues to mystify and delight observers around the world. As David Winner wryly observes, it is an expression of the Dutch psyche that has a shared ancestry with Mondrian's Broadway Boogie Woogie, Rembrandt's The Night…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in soccer, the Olympics, and economics?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about soccer, the Olympics, and economics.

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