Tuesday, June 10, 2014

World Cup Reading List

World Cup Fever has arrived, and readers can warm up with three marvelous books from The Overlook Press that explore the worldwide fascination and obsession with the sport.

THE SECRET LIVES OF SPORTS FANS explores the science behind sports obsession, and if there was ever a sport that generated obsession, it must be World Cup soccer. Author Eric Simons argues sports fandom is either an aspect of a person’s fundamental identity, or completely incomprehensible to those who aren’t fans at all. What is happening in our brains and bodies when we feel strong emotion while watching a game? How do sports fans resemble political junkies, and why do we form such a strong attachment to a sports team? Through reading the literature and attending neuroscience conferences, talking to fans, psychologists, and scientists, and working through his issues as part of a collaboration with the NPR science program RadioLab, Eric Simons hoped to find an answer that would explain why the attractive force of this relationship with treasured sports teams is so great that we can’t leave it.

In THOSE FEET author David Winner journeys to the heart of an essential English pastime and sheds new light on the true nature of a rapidly changing sport. A playful, witty and highly original look at English soccer, Winner shows how Victorian sexual anxiety underlies England’s many World Cup failures. He reveals the connection between Roy Keane and a soldier who never lived but died in the Charge of the Light Brigade. And he demonstrates how thick mud and wet leather shaped the contours of the English soul.

  "Thank God for David Winner ...with an easy wit, Winner traces the game back to its roots and the results are as intriguing as they are amusing ...Those Feet really is a marvelous book and you’re unlikely to come across anything better for some considerable time." —Duncan White, FourFourTwo

"Winner has made as good a stab at psychoanalyzing England’s national sport as I have read." —Daily Telegraph

Also by David Winner, BRILLIANT ORANGE is a book about Dutch soccer that's not really about Dutch soccer. It's more about an enigmatic way of thinking peculiar to a people whose landscape is unrelentingly flat, mostly below sea level, and who owe their salvation to a boy who plugged a fractured dike with his little finger. If any one thing, Brilliant Orange is about Dutch space, and a people whose unique conception of it has led to some of the most enduring art, 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 continues with its intricacy and oddity to mystify and delight observers around the world. As idiosyncratic as its subject, quirky and provocative, Brilliant Orange reaches out to the reader from an unsuspected place and never lets go.

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