Hockey is over. We're desperately trying to forget the raptors choking against #LeBronto. There are too many PGA tours to count.  We have a bit of time before Serena at Wimbledon. So, it's time to focus all our attention on FIFA World Cup, which finally started this week after four long years. (If you're going to start yelling at us about baseball, don't - it's too early in the season.)

To celebrate, we've compiled a list of books to read that will prepare you for a weekend of FIFA small talk that will inevitability happen. It goes without saying that you're not going to become an expert overnight, but these books will be just the thing to help you navigate an evening of food, friends and football.

Group A - Everything You Need To Know

The Unofficial Guide to the World Cup

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Whether you're a first-time fan or you've been watching for years, this books is a mine of fascinating facts, interesting insights and tremendous trivia into the world of the football World Cup. It explores the tournament's history, its biggest successes, controversies and flops and looks forward to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The World Cups' top teams and players are also profiled.

World Cup 2018: The Teams, the Stars, the Stories (World Soccer Legends)

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Learn all about the 2018 World Cup!

Discover the tournament's brightest stars, including unstoppable scorers Messi, Neymar, and Ronaldo, promising newcomers like France's Mbappé, and the world's best goalkeeper, Neuer. Get the inside scoop on the teams heading to the showdown in Moscow―and why the Americans fell short. Here are the backstories to previous tournaments―from the first small Cup in Uruguay to the shocking French loss in 1996 to Germany's recent triumph in Brazil. Filled with World Cup records, player stats, and incredible action shots of on-field wizardry.

Soccernomics (2018 World Cup Edition): Why England Loses; Why Germany, Spain, and France Win; and Why One Day Japan, Iraq, and the United States Will Become Kings of the World's Most Popular Sport 

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The 2018 World Cup edition of the international bestseller and "the most intelligent book ever written about soccer" (San Francisco Chronicle) is updated throughout and features new chapters on the FIFA scandal, why Iceland wins, and women's soccer.

Named one of the Best Books of the Year by the Guardian, Slate, Financial Times, Independent (UK), and Bloomberg News!

Written with an economist's brain and a soccer writer's skill, Soccernomics applies high-powered analytical tools to everyday soccer topics, looking at data and revealing counterintuitive truths about the world's most beloved game. It all adds up to a revolutionary new approach that has helped change the way the game is played.

This World Cup edition features ample new material, including fresh insights into FIFA's corruption, the surge in domestic violence during World Cups, and Western Europe's unprecedented dominance of global soccer.

Group B - Extra Reading

Stars of Women's Soccer: 2nd Edition (World Soccer Legends)

The greatest stars of international women's soccer today. 

One of the most anticipated sports events on the horizon is the 2019 Women’s World Cup, to be held from June 7 to July 7, in nine French cities, including Lyons, Nice, and Paris. With the last Women’s World Cup breaking records for worldwide viewership, here is required reading in advance of 2019: The World Soccer Legends series completely revised edition of Stars of Women’s Soccer, with 28 of the best female players from around the world. 

Discover tournament attendees from the world over, including longtime favorites and impressive newcomers, such as American goal-scoring machine Carli Lloyd; tall, Martinique-born defender Wendie Renard; and the razor-sharp Brazilian defender, Marta. 

Here is a compilation no fan can do without, filled with all-new photos of the women in action, updated stories that relate each player’s upbringing and unique talents, and callout boxes that distill essential information―including birthdate, flag, height, position, current team, international games, and goal tallies.

The Language of the Game: How to Understand Soccer

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Soccer is not only the world's most popular sport; it's also one of the most widely shared forms of global culture. The Language of the Game is a passionate and engaging introduction to soccer's history, tactics, and human drama. Profiling soccer's full cast of characters--goalies and position players, referees and managers, commentators and fans--historian and soccer scholar Laurent Dubois describes how the game's low scores, relentless motion, and spectacular individual performances combine to turn each match into a unique and unpredictable story. He also shows how soccer's global reach makes it an unparalleled theater for nationalism, international conflict, and human interconnectedness.

Filled with perceptive insights and stories both legendary and little known, The Language of the Game is a rewarding read for anyone seeking to understand soccer better.

Inverting The Pyramid: The History of Soccer Tactics

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"An outstanding work ... the [soccer] book of the decade." -Sunday Business Post

Inverting the Pyramid is a pioneering soccer book that chronicles the evolution of soccer tactics and the lives of the itinerant coaching geniuses who have spread their distinctive styles across the globe. 

Through Jonathan Wilson's brilliant historical detective work we learn how the South Americans shrugged off the British colonial order to add their own finesse to the game; how the Europeans harnessed individual technique and built it into a team structure; how the game once featured five forwards up front, while now a lone striker is not uncommon. 

Inverting the Pyramid provides a definitive understanding of the tactical genius of modern-day Barcelona, for the first time showing how their style of play developed from Dutch "Total Football," which itself was an evolution of the Scottish passing game invented by Queens Park in the 1870s and taken on by Tottenham Hotspur in the 1930s. Inverting the Pyramid has been called the "Big Daddy" (Zonal Marking) of soccer tactics books; it is essential for any coach, fan, player, or fantasy manager of the beautiful game

Group C - For the Kids

World Cup: An Action-Packed Look at Soccer's Biggest Competition

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Soccer. No other sport in the world captivates a bigger audience--and no other competition electrifies its fans like the World Cup. Jam-packed with information about each and every World Cup ever played, this revised and updated edition of a Matt Christopher classic captures all the amazing highlights of soccer's most famous tournament.

Want to know who was behind the biggest surprise defeat of the 1950 World Cup? It's in here. Want to know which country has won the Women's World Cup more than any other? Just turn the page. Want to know more about the biggest triumphs and harshest defeats, all while feeling like you're on the field with the sports legends? Wondering what the term Total Football means? You'll find the answers here--along with much, much more.

Soccer Stars: Meet 40 game changers (40 Inspiring Icons) 

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The greatest goals… The most spectacular saves… Meet the top 40 soccer stars of all time! Relive Ronaldo’s most memorable moments, learn about Messi’s legendary left foot, meet the youngest-ever World Cup goal scorer, Pelé, and see the some of the most spectacular saves in history. Every player is a winner in their own way, but who will you choose as your hero? Jam-packed full of fun footie facts about who each legend played for, how many goals they scored and the special skills they had, this is the perfect read for football fans all over the world.

The Day Dad Joined My Soccer Team

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A soccer dad misunderstands when he hears that his son's team needs his help. Instead of taking care of halftime snacks, the dad grabs a jersey and runs onto the field to play! And what an embarrassment he is: he hogs the ball, complains about his teammates and throws a hairy fit when the referee doesn't call a play his way! Can the boy find a way to teach his dad how to be a good sport before he drives the whole team crazy?

Maureen Fergus, a Blue Spruce Award winner, has the perfect touch in crafting comic role-reversal stories. The boy gets to prove he knows more than his father --- always a hit --- but the two maintain a close and loving relationship throughout. The simple lines of Mike Lowery's art reflect the story's offbeat premise and child's point of view. With hilarious lessons on being a good sport, following the rules and having patience with others, this picture book could spark conversations about self-awareness and managing relationships. It also works for character education lessons on empathy, compassion and perseverance, and is a terrific resource for coaches of all kinds.

50 Things You Should Know About: Soccer

From world-class star players to dream teams and memorable matches, this comprehensive guide to football is packed with facts and information about the beautiful game. From the history of the game and how football has developed over time to the top leagues, clubs and international tournaments, this book pinpoints the players, games and teams that everyone should know. Starting with historical versions of football, right up to the modern game and the players of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, it covers all the best goals and the most famous matches. Facts about the top players, stadiums and managers are accompanied by up-to-date stats and action shots of the most popular players. Packed with facts, infographics and photos, this is the perfect book for any young football fans.

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