The most recommended soccer books

Who picked these books? Meet our 51 experts.

51 authors created a book list connected to soccer, and here are their favorite soccer books.
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What type of soccer book?


Book cover of Luckman at Quarterback: Football as a Sport and a Career

R.D. Rosen Author Of Tough Luck: Sid Luckman, Murder, Inc., and the Rise of the Modern NFL

From my list on Jews and sports.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an author whose works have spanned several genres, from mysteries (I won an Edgar for Strike Three You’re Dead), to psychology (I coined the word “psychobabble” and wrote a book about it), to humor (Bad Cat and Bad Dog were both bestsellers), and, more lately to nonfiction, including Such Good Girls, true story of three Jewish women who survived the Holocaust. I have worked in television as a comedian, writer, and producer, and as a senior editor in the publishing industry, but my first and enduring love is the magic of writing.

R.D.'s book list on Jews and sports

R.D. Rosen Why did R.D. love this book?

In 1949, while still playing for the Chicago Bears, Luckman (and a ghostwriter) penned this appealingly modest account of the quarterback’s early life. Since Luckman left no other writing behind, it’s an invaluable account of a “scrawny runt's" rise to national football celebrity by his 24th birthday. The most moving aspect of the book, for those in the know, is his silence about his father’s murder of Sid’s favorite uncle. Instead, he used a cover story for Dad’s disappearance and then kept his mouth shut for the rest of his life. 

By Sid Luckman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Luckman at Quarterback as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

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 The One & Only

Brooke Bentley Author Of Sideline Confidential

From my list on sports for women.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a little girl I dreamed of becoming a sports reporter. I loved to write and spent most of my free time playing or watching sports. I earned an academic-athletic scholarship to Davidson College to play volleyball and went on to receive my master’s in journalism from the University of Southern California. After landing a job as media personality with the Houston Texans, I thought my career would skyrocket to national television. But I quickly learned that the world of sports journalism is anything but predictable. As I balanced motherhood and a career in sports reporting, I realized the most fascinating stories were the ones being created inside my own head.

Brooke's book list on sports for women

Brooke Bentley Why did Brooke love this book?

When this novel came out, I was traversing Texas, working as a sideline reporter for college football games.

I instantly related to the heroine Shea Rigsby who grew up on Texas football and dreams of becoming a football reporter. I had been in her shoes. That was my dream too. But you don’t have to be a football fan to appreciate this book. As Shea pursues a job covering the NFL and sparks fly with the Cowboy’s star quarterback, she struggles to find contentment in her career and romantic life.

It isn’t until she opens her heart to unexpected love and faces challenging family dynamics that she’s able to realize her deepest desires.

By Emily Giffin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Number One New York Times bestseller. Ask yourself: what would you do if the one for you was the only person you couldn't have?

Shea Rigsby is content enough with her life in the small town of Walker, Texas. She has her dream fangirl job working for Walker's football team, a mostly satisfactory relationship with her boyfriend, and even if she's got the sneaking feeling life is passing her by, she doesn't quite have the confidence to do anything about it.
But everything changes when the mother of Lucy, Shea's best friend, dies suddenly. Lucy's father, now a widower,…

Book cover of The Longest Winter: A Season with England's Worst Ever Football Team

Nick Quantrill Author Of Sound of the Sinners

From Nick's 3 favorite reads in 2023.

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Crime writer Football North of England Psychological thriller Espionage

Nick's 3 favorite reads in 2023

Nick Quantrill Why did Nick love this book?

I’m proud to be from the north of England, but it remains a contested place, one built on conflict with both itself and those who hold power in government.

I particularly loved this book because although it’s nominally about football, it’s much more interested in exploring a small town at a particular point in time, an approach that I found gave me real insight into present-day struggles, and by extension, it shines a light on my own city.

I very much closed this book feeling that as well as being entertained, I’d learned something important about the value of community and how it endures.

By Mark Hodkinson,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1973-74, Britain was in meltdown. The Arab-Israeli War had sent energy prices soaring. Petrol was scarce. Offices were limited to a temperature of 17C and power cuts were frequent. A three-day working week came in as inflation took hold and miners and other workers went on strike. The northern mill town of Rochdale suffered more than most. Its cotton industry was on shut-down in the face of cheap imports, and the football team was a mirror image of the town - tired, defeated, clinging to life. The Rochdale team of 1973-74 are considered the worst to play in the…

Book cover of How Football Began: A Global History of How the World's Football Codes Were Born

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?

I loved this book and learned so much about how all the major football forms evolved in the late 19th century, not just soccer.

The writer tells the tale of how a dying folk game revived by private schools in England exploded in growth over a couple of decades to become the pre-eminent form of recreation.  

The book also recounts the schisms that saw ‘football’ evolve into the numerous codes we know today throughout the world. Incredibly well-researched, I found it an essential and fascinating read on the game’s origins.

By Tony Collins,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked How Football Began as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This ambitious and fascinating history considers why, in the space of sixty years between 1850 and 1910, football grew from a marginal and unorganised activity to become the dominant winter entertainment for millions of people around the world.

The book explores how the world's football codes - soccer, rugby league, rugby union, American, Australian, Canadian and Gaelic - developed as part of the commercialised leisure industry in the nineteenth century. Football, however and wherever it was played, was a product of the second industrial revolution, the rise of the mass media, and the spirit of the age of the masses.…

Book cover of Furia

Emma Kress Author Of Dangerous Play

From my list on YA featuring badass sporty girls.

Why am I passionate about this?

I adore books about sporty badass girls. Yet, when I first began to write Dangerous Play, there were few young-adult novels featuring fierce sporty girls. Of those, there were fewer which portrayed the powerful friendships that can emerge on girls’ sports teams. I want to read and write about girls who are defined by more than their love interests, who are dogged in the pursuit of their goals. In a world that so often judges girls by how their bodies look, sports offers an arena in which girls can view and value their bodies in an alternative way. And who doesn’t love to cheer for someone who beats the odds? 

Emma's book list on YA featuring badass sporty girls

Emma Kress Why did Emma love this book?

I adored this book. After I turned the final page, I sat in silence, sinking into all the feels. Set in Argentina, Furia is the story of Camila, a fierce soccer—or fútbol—player who is one of the best in her sport. However, she’s forced to keep her love of fútbol a secret because she’s living under the strict supervision of her father, who doesn’t believe girls should play sports. That story alone would be enough to make Furia one of my all-time favorite books, but it’s also got an incredible swoony love story. You don’t want to miss this one. 

By Yamile Saied Méndez,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Furia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In Rosario, Argentina, Camila Hassan lives a double life.

At home, she is a careful daughter, living within her mother's narrow expectations, in her rising-soccer-star brother's shadow, and under the abusive rule of her short-tempered father.

On the field, she is La Furia, a powerhouse of skill and talent. When her team qualifies for the South American tournament, Camila gets the chance to see just how far those talents can take her. In her wildest dreams, she'd get an athletic scholarship to a North American university.

But the path ahead isn't easy. Her parents don't know about her passion. They…

Book cover of The Last Coach: A Life of Paul "Bear" Bryant

Ed Southern Author Of Fight Songs: A Story of Love and Sports in a Complicated South

From my list on root, root, root for the home team.

Why am I passionate about this?

As I write in Fight Songs, my name has nothing to do with it: It refers to a geography an ocean away, and predates any notion of the American South (or of America, for that matter). I have spent most of my life in the South, though, loving football, basketball, and other sports that didn’t always love me back. I became curious about why they’ve come to play such an outsized role in our culture. Why did my home state come to a standstill for a basketball tournament? Why does my wife’s home state shut down for a football game? Writing Fight Songs was one way of exploring those questions. Reading these books was another.

Ed's book list on root, root, root for the home team

Ed Southern Why did Ed love this book?

The book that started it all (for me, at least): I read this book just before the 2007 season, when my beloved Wake Forest Demon Deacons were the reigning conference champs, when Alabama was about to start the Nick Saban Era.

It was a fall of unusual hope after a summer of deaths and distances. From The Last Coach I not only learned a lot about the legendary Bear Bryant, and about America in the American Century, but also felt like I got a pep talk from Bryant himself.

Soon after I finished reading this I met a beautiful woman. When I learned she was an Alabama fan I told her I’d just read this and asked if she had. She told me to check the dedication page: The author’s her uncle.

By Allen Barra,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The explosive biography of the greatest college football coach in history.

When Paul William "Bear" Bryant died on January 26, 1983, it was the lead story on the all three networks' evening news. New York City newspapers reported his death on their front pages. ("Crimson Tears," read the headline in the New York Post, "Nation weeps over death of legendary Bear Bryant, 69.") Three days later, America watched in awe as an estimated quarter of a million mourners lined the fifty-five mile stretch from Tuscaloosa to a Birmingham cemetery to pay their respects as his three-mile long funeral cortege drove…

Book cover of Untouchable

Lindsey Iler Author Of Glass Heart Savage

From my list on romance with heroes you’ll love to hate.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an author who always finds something redeemable in the most chaotic characters. I not only love to write broken characters, but I search them out while reading. There’s something beautiful in their redemption and their growth. It’s simple to fall in love with the easy heroes, the ones that can do no wrong. The ones that make you stop reading because you don’t think you can take it anymore and cause your heart to race in the middle of the night as you devour their story, those are the heroes that I love. They usually end up being the ones you love to hate.

Lindsey's book list on romance with heroes you’ll love to hate

Lindsey Iler Why did Lindsey love this book?

I often wonder what made Sam write a character like Carter Mahoney, but all I can say is I’m so happy she did. This is not the book to go into with sunshine and rainbows on the brain because you will get the exact opposite, but in the best way possible. If you love cruel heroes that make you question your own sanity while reading like I do, this is the perfect read for you.

By Sam Mariano,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?


The bully isn't supposed to win...

Senior year was off to a rough start: lube in my locker, panties on my front porch, unimaginative name-calling. See, I got a player suspended from the football team for harassing me, and in my small Texas town, you don't mess with the football players—even if they mess with you first.

I didn't care if it was an unpopular thing to do; I stood up for myself... and in doing so, opened Pandora's Box.

I never dreamed I would attract the attention of locally worshipped star quarterback, Carter Mahoney.…

Book cover of Britt-Marie Was Here

Debbie Chein Morris Author Of We Used to Dance: Loving Judy, My Disabled Twin

From my list on getting through life’s challenges.

Why am I passionate about this?

At the age of fifty-three, I was suddenly thrust into the role of primary caregiver for my disabled twin sister who was unable to sit, stand, feed herself, eat solid foods, or communicate. Up to that point, that role had been my mother’s with the help of home-attendants; but my mother was aging and the care provided by the ever-changing attendants was wanting. I was forced to place Judy in a nursing home. The challenge left me overwhelmed with the responsibility of overseeing her care and there were days I wondered if I could go on. With the support of family and friends, I was able to make it through.

Debbie's book list on getting through life’s challenges

Debbie Chein Morris Why did Debbie love this book?

Britt-Marie Was Here is a book of fiction. Nonetheless, it speaks to me as an example of persevering to get through life’s challenges.

Backman is a master of character development and I easily connected with the protagonist. I, like Britt Marie, have found myself outside my comfort zone, slowly moving forward to figure out how to navigate my new position in life.

For Britt Marie, it was living on her own in a new place, with new people, after leaving her husband upon whom she depended for everything; for me it was becoming a primary caregiver and decision-maker for my disabled twin sister.

Very different positions and yet sharing the challenge of accepting our new situation in life. I didn’t want the book to end.

By Fredrik Backman,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Britt-Marie Was Here as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, and Anxious People captivates readers with this “warm and satisfying” (People) story “about a woman rediscovering herself after a personal crisis…fans of Backman will find another winner in these pages” (Publishers Weekly).

Britt-Marie can’t stand mess. A disorganized cutlery drawer ranks high on her list of unforgivable sins. She is not one to judge others—no matter how ill-mannered, unkempt, or morally suspect they might be. It’s just that sometimes people interpret her helpful suggestions as criticisms, which is certainly not…

Book cover of Soccer in Sun and Shadow

Stephen Amidon Author Of Something like the Gods: A Cultural History of the Athlete from Achilles to LeBron

From my list on sports that are about more than wins & losses.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a novelist (Human Capital, The New City, and Security) with a lifelong passion for sports, from my boyhood days as a Yankees fan during their woebegone late Sixties years, to my career as the father of an All-ACC wide receiver.  In my youth, I was a workmanlike catcher, mediocre quarterback, and hard-working 800-meter runner who came this close to breaking two minutes.  These days, I mainly enjoy watching great moments in sports history on YouTube.  Through it all, I have always believed that sports are about much more than wins, losses, records, and titles.

Stephen's book list on sports that are about more than wins & losses

Stephen Amidon Why did Stephen love this book?

Galeano was no ordinary sportswriter. He was also a radical journalist, revisionist historian, and clear-eyed social critic whose work redefined modern Latin America in the minds of readers worldwide. In Soccer in Sun and Shadow, the Uruguayan author explores the meaning of soccer far beyond yellow cards and defensive strategies. In a series of short chapters, some no more than a page, Galeano illuminates the Beautiful Game’s legends, known and forgotten, from Maradona and Pele to the match that ended with 44 penalty kicks but whose results no one can quite remember. He is at his best when writing about how players of color from the favelas of Latin American added flare and rhythm to a hitherto stodgy old European game. Lyrical and learned, loving and elegiac, Soccer in Sun and Shadow stands as perhaps the greatest book on sports ever written.  

By Eduardo Galeano,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Soccer in Sun and Shadow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this witty and rebellious history of world soccer, award-winning writer Eduardo Galeano searches for the styles of play, players, and goals that express the unique personality of certain times and places. In Soccer in Sun and Shadow , Galeano takes us to ancient China, where engravings from the Ming period show a ball that could have been designed by Adidas to Victorian England, where gentlemen codified the rules that we still play by today and to Latin America, where the crazy English" spread the game only to find it creolized by the locals.All the greats,Pele, Di Stefano, Cruyff, Eusebio,…