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When Was The Last Time You Searched For Soccer Books At Your Local Library?

I visited my local library last week in pursuit of some books for my children. But while I was watching them thumb through the pages, I had a flashback. Shortly after I arrived in the United States in 1984, I remember visiting the main branch of the city library in West Palm Beach, where I sadly found only a handful of books on soccer. I can’t picture what books were on the shelf in ’84, but I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them was written by Paul Gardner.

A lot has changed between 1984 and 2011 especially in how popular soccer has become in the United States. So, to judge how the game has grown over these 27 years, I performed an unscientific test. Before my kids were ready to check their books out with the librarian, we made a detour to the non-fiction section of the library. After a quick search, we found the soccer books and I was pleasantly surprised to see approximately 30 soccer books on the shelf. It was an assortment of books on how to play soccer, tips on soccer drills, star players and the history of the game. But among those books, I was pleased to see such classics as The Ball Is Round, Soccernomics and Soccer In A Football World.

There was no Inverting The Pyramid, but I was still pleased to see an assortment of books, many of which were recent. However, those 30 books represent just 0.02% of the books at my local library (out of 140,000 books). While I don’t expect that percentage to change much in the near future, let’s hope the number of soccer books does increase.

Have you searched your local library recently for books on soccer? If so, what was the selection like and were there any great finds you discovered? Have you seen an increase in the quantity and quality of soccer books at your local branch? Share your stories in the comments section below.

If you love reading about soccer, check out our Ultimate Guide To Football Books.

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  1. Jake

    March 31, 2011 at 5:27 am


    • The Gaffer

      March 31, 2011 at 6:15 am

      Jake, the British call it soccer too. Try it sometime. It doesn’t hurt.

      The Gaffer

  2. Abel

    March 30, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    My library has a few soccer books because lots of kids play soccer. My library also will get any soccer book you request, from another library or buy it if it’s not available at another library. Good deal. E-books are becoming more popular so in the future we’ll be able to download them from the library’s website to read them.

  3. Jason

    March 29, 2011 at 8:02 am

    My library doesn’t have as many books as it once did a few years ago because of budget cuts. Hardly any soccer-related books. My teenage kids prefer e-books so I think that will be the future of what libraries will have.

  4. Carmello

    March 28, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    I had the same experience at my library Gaffer. A bunch of books about playing soccer, but not a lot about anything else. They DID have “How Soccer Explains the World” and “The ESPN World Cup Companion”. But my library system is SUPER SWEET in that you can REQUEST any book you like (or movie, video game, etc), and they will buy it for the library. So I did that with “The Beckham Experiment” and was the first to read it there. Lovely. I love the library.

  5. Cricketlover

    March 28, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    Do libraries still exist? Physical books are becoming a thing of the past. At my college library most books and magazines are being replaced by electronic versions. Students no longer need to go to the library to access such material as most are now available online. Personally, I regret that physical books are being phased out as I’m used to them and just like the feel of turning a page. Perhaps I’m showing my age. The good thing however is that it will become possible to get acccess to any “book” almost immediately by downloading it rather than have to wait for it to be available at the library or wait for the library to open.

  6. Pakapala

    March 28, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Most of the soccer books mentioned above I read by getting them from the BPL (Boston Public Lirary); depending on which branch you go to it may have a lot of soccer books or just a couple books here and there. The good thing is because the local libraries all have 1 network, you can just request a book and arrange to pick it up at your local branch. In general there are a lot of soccer books around here (Boston and area).

    • The Gaffer

      March 28, 2011 at 12:25 pm

      Excellent tip. Thanks Pakapala.

      The Gaffer

      • Pakapala

        March 28, 2011 at 12:35 pm

        I am not sure how the library network is in your city, Gaffer; I was talking about all the public libraries in Boston, but you can look it up in your area.

        • bradjmoore48

          March 28, 2011 at 1:33 pm

          Gaffer, or anyone else, another suggestion:

          If your library has an Inter-Library Loan (ILL) program, you can put in a request to your library for any book, which is sent out to libraries across the world using the WorldCAT system; if a library has it, it is shipped to your local branch for pick-up, usually for a minimal fee (in my case, its $3 per item requested). There are usually some restrictions, like you may not be able to renew beyond its due date, but if you want to read a book without necessarily plunking down $10-$20 or more for a book, it’s a good way to do so.

          • Pakapala

            March 28, 2011 at 3:23 pm

            I did not know about that Brad. I will check at my library. Thanks!

  7. R2Dad

    March 28, 2011 at 10:25 am

    Read Soccernomics, plus there are a handful of other footy videos worth watching as well. Thanks for the recommendation on Inverting The Pyramid.

  8. Dakota

    March 28, 2011 at 1:33 am

    That’s an interesting thought. I never thought to look and see how many soccer books there are at my library. I can remember when I was younger doing a project on Mia Hamm and finding several books on her alone though. Thanks for the article

  9. bill victor

    March 27, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    Picked up Soccernomics and Fever Pitch at library. Beckham Experiment is there as well as is Soccer in a Football World.

  10. MG

    March 27, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    My gf has a card for the South Huntington Public Library in Long Island, NY and they have a system called ‘live-brary’ ( where you can search any book from anywhere in Suffolk County. So you can search any book and if another library in the county has it, you can request for it to be sent to your local library. It’s fantastic. I use her membership to that particular library to borrow books all the time haha. Recently I took out ‘Bloody Confused’. Going to read it soon.

  11. Brian Perceful

    March 27, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    I’ve read Bloody Confused, Soccernomics, and How Soccer Explains the World from my library system.

  12. trickybrkn

    March 27, 2011 at 10:47 am

    Funny you should post this, yesterday at my local Library had a huge display of soccer books. Set up to publicize the local summer soccer camp run by the township. Most where technical books and Beckham books, but there was How Soccer Explains the World mixed in… and a Team USA Kit.

  13. Bishopville Red

    March 27, 2011 at 9:40 am

    The local privately owned tiny bookstore, however, has a surprisingly good offering every time I visit. From Soccernomics to the fly on the wall, follow a club for a season books, to one about Nelson Mandela and Robben Island (actually a book ordered by a Uni prof for his course – I wasn’t allowed to buy one until the students had a crack at them), they impress me with their selection. And they eagerly take on advice for new offerings. GREAT little store.

    Everyone out there, support your libraries and little book store owners. They’ll return the favour!

  14. Bishopville Red

    March 27, 2011 at 9:35 am

    I check every time I go to the library, which is about monthly / 6wks. The only way my local library would have a footy book would be if I donated my collection. Unfortunately, that’s not happening any time soon.

    The only books I can find about the beautiful game are in the kids’ section, which is OK by me. I borrow the books that pique interest for the kiddos. If they wish to dig deeper, the personal library kicks in.

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