It's that time of year where summer vacations loom and the thought of reading a book somewhere relaxing gets closer to reality. I polled the staff at Brotherly Game and selected ten of their favorite soccer books to help folks whittle down the many options out there. Try not to be lured in by the trashy novels calling to you from the Rite Aid aisle. Give these books on the beautiful game a chance this summer. In no particular order:
What this book is about: I Am Zlatan is the lone biography that made our list and it's the compelling story of Zlatan Ibrahimovic's rise to be one of the premier players in the world. There is plenty of behind-the-scenes looks into the world of soccer as well for the voyeur in all of us.
Why you should read this: If you love biographies of dynamic players and behind the scenes insight into the business and politics of soccer.
What this book is about: Author Joe McGinniss absorbs himself in the small town of Castel di Sangro in Italy and follows the club soccer team and their surprising run in the 2nd division. McGinniss gets to know intimately this small town's obsession with the club and a crazy cast of characters.
Why you should read this: If you are looking for an entertaining read about how soccer is infused in other cultures around the world.
What this book is about: Robert Andrew Powell took on the same task as Joe McGinniss did in Italy, but in a much more dangerous town. Powell follows the upstart Indios in drug-fueled Juarez during their 2008 season in the Mexican Primera. The story is one of so many tragedies surrounding a warm and passionate society.
Why you should read this: If you want to read how soccer brings hope to one of the world's most dangerous cities.
4. Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Soccer Tactics - Jonathan Wilson
What the book is about: Wilson takes us on a lyrical journey from origins of soccer to modern day Barcelona. He explores the characters and the genius that influenced the popular tactics through history - from the 2-3-5 formations that dominated to the first World Cup to the 4-4-2s and 4-2-3-1s of today's game.
Why you should read this: If you are interested in soccer tactics this is a beautiful, if non-linear, read through the strategies that shape the game. Wilson is one of the great writers covering the sport today, and he provides great context for why and how the game has evolved.
5. 100 Year of Soccer in America: The Official Book of the US Soccer Federation - Multiple contributors including Sunil Gulati, Alexi Lalas, Tony DiCicco and Landon Donovan
What the book is about: While the writing is a bit dry, this is a thorough and attractive reference book on the history of soccer in the United States.
Why you should read this: If you want to have the history of American soccer at your fingertips, this is the only book to have.
6. On Level Terms: 10 Legal Battles that Tested and Shaped Soccer in the Modern Era - Ted Philipakos
What the book is about: The title sums this one up well. This book provides insight into the rise of Major League Soccer in the U.S., or the fight for free agency in Europe, and is the only book of its kind.
Why you should read this: If you want to understand the influence of law and it's impact on how the beautiful game is played and managed today.
7. Soccernomics: Why England Loses, Why Spain, Germany, and Brazil Win, and Why the U.S., Japan, Australia - and Even Iraq - Are Destined to Become the Kings of the World's Most Popular Sport - Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski
What the book is about: The title and the extended title say it all. This is the study of where soccer and economics meet and how money influences the game we know and love.
Why you should read this: If you have any interest in the economic side of soccer, this is a must read. To develop an understanding of the advantages and disadvantages that the world of finance brings to soccer is key for pinning your future hopes on a nation.
What the book is about: Fever Pitch is Nick Hornby's memoir about his obsession with football growing up in Great Britain.
Why you should read this: The world of soccer is fortunate to have a such an esteemed writer (About A Boy, High Fidelity) document his love for the game. If you want to laugh and to cry and truly feel what it's like to live and die for your club, then Hornby's world is the place to immerse yourself.
What the book is about: The authors have mapped a statistical myth-busting journey through soccer's hallowed halls. They tackle the importance of luck, the power of a team's star player, the value of corner kicks and much more.
Why you should read this: If you love the numbers behind the game and also want to challenge pre-conceived notions about the game, this book is a great place to start.
What the book is about: Hooligans! What better way to end this list then with a look at the plight of soccer's most passionate but dangerous fans.
Why you should read this: Author Martin King was at the heart of Chelsea's hooligan mob. This is a man looking back on those years and looking at the state of the soccer hooligan in today's game. Fans wanting to explore the sport's mixture with violence will be intoxicated.
That's our ten but please expand the list in the comments below. The more recommendations the merrier.