“In the year that summer stayed too long, the heat lay upon the prairie with the weight of a corpse.”First line in The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo
I’m doing The Football Book Tag created by one of my favorite people on the internet Nefeli @BiblioNebula, and no, it’s not about American football. Nefeli made it in honor of the Euro 2020 tournament this summer where she also tagged me, but I couldn’t find the time to do it then. So here we are. The national teams are playing again next week, so this is me warming up to that. I actually miss watching my national team, and that is a sentence I never thought I would say. But anyway, here are my answers for the Football Book Tag.
1. The beautiful game: A book with beautiful design
Football is called the beautiful game and rightfully so if you ask me. It is so much more than a sport and it has inspired beautiful fan cultures around the world. So, for this question, we have to choose a book that is beautifully designed.
The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo isn’t only beautiful on the outside because the inside also has artwork on every single page. I love the idea behind this book and how the art plays role in the storytelling because as you read, the story is also being drawn around the edges of the pages until it makes a full picture. It’s gorgeous.
2. Chants, Songs and Anthems: Favourite poem or poetry collection
From the official competition songs to club anthems and chants, the football world is -surprisingly- full of poetry. So, for this question, we have to name a poem or poetry collection we love.
I had to get creative here because don’t read any poetry. So I’ve picked my favorite fictional poet instead.
I haven’t read all of the Witcher books but my favorite part of the ones I read was Dandelion. He’s a bard and writes both songs and poems, so I felt he was the appropriate choice for this question. Since we have a Netflix show based on the books, I can also share his famous song “Toss a Coin to Your Witcher”.
(Just a heads up for people who haven’t seen the show: If you press play, you’ll have this song in your head for a week).
3. Red Card: A trope you loathe
The red card in football is shown as the ultimate penalty when a player does something against the rules of the game. Said player is then sent away from the field. Which trope would you show a direct red card?
The “I’m breaking up with/leaving you to protect you” trope. It’s so stupid, makes no sense and takes all agency away from the person being “protected”. Let people decide for themselves whether they want to take a risk for you or not! And as we so often see, the person ends up being hurt anyway in some capacity so why all the drama??
4. National Teams: A book from your country
I really do not read a lot of books from my own country, Denmark. I always tell myself I’m going to but then I don’t because I remember the bad experiences I’ve had. I still want to try more, so I’m going to share a book that is on my TBR. It’s Daniel – Mellem Himmel og Helvede (between heaven and hell) by Anne Christine Eriksen which I believe is a mix of fantasy and dystopia. It takes place 155 years after The War that left The United Scandinavia as one of the only places of freedom for both humans and creatures. Apparently the main character meets some elves and through that he’s forced to abandon his secure life. It’s also the only Danish fantasy book I’ve come across that has LGBTQ+ characters in it, so I’m actually kind of excited to read it.
5. Transfer Season: An author you’d like to see write in a different genre
Transfer season is a stressful period for football fans since we all have an opinion on which player should transfer to our club. What if we could transfer authors from one genre to another? What transfer would you make?
This was actually difficult because most of my favorite authors already write in different genres, but my choice ended up being Megan Whalen Turner, the author of the fantasy series The Queen’s Thief. As far as I’m aware, that is the only series she has written, but I think she’d do well in historical fiction as well. The Queen’s Thief is already very reminiscent of Ancient Greece, so I think she has the knowledge to pull it off, not necessarily in that specific time period but maybe something similar.
6. World Cup: Recommend a translated novel
Again, my options were limited but I went with The Neverending Story by Michael Ende. It is fairly well-known because of the movie, but it is German originally. I read the English version although I probably should have at least attempted the German one now that I think about it. I liked it well enough, but I mainly read it because I loved the mini-series based on it and that is very, very different from the book.
7. Euro 2004: A book that took you by surprise
Obviously, I couldn’t talk about football without mentioning Euro 2004 aka the European championship my national team won against all odds. Greece took the world by surprise that year. What’s a book that had the same effect on you?
(In my head, the question-title is Euro 1992 because that was when Denmark surprisingly won the tournament they hadn’t even qualified for 😉)
Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks. Yes, a romance book. One of my friends has read pretty much every single Nicholas Sparks out there, while I personally hadn’t had much luck with the two of his books I had picked up at that point. She still urged me to try Safe Haven because she felt it was different in a way that I would like. And she was right. I was very pleasantly surprised by it, and I think it was because of the domestic abuse subplot. It was unfamiliar territory for me, so I was very intrigued, and it made sure it wasn’t all romance.
8. The Hand of God: A book that employs the deus ex machina trope
In football “the hand of God” refers to this goal scored by Diego Maradona during the Argentina v England quarter finals match of the 1986 World Cup. Maradona scored using his hand and his goal should’ve been disallowed but the referees didn’t have clear view of it. So, it counted and led Argentina to a win. It is one of the most iconic goals ever, so I couldn’t not include a question about it.
I think the ending of The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern employs this trope, but in a way that makes sense for the story. That said, I know a lot of other readers didn’t like this book’s ending because of that trope. It is one of my favorite books so I obviously don’t mind.
9. El Clásico, Der Klassiker, Superclásico: Favourite classic novel
In many countries, the biggest football derby is called “The Classic” (In Greece we call it “the mother of all battles” and “the derby of the eternals” because we’re dramatic like that). To honour these fascinating rivalries, I thought I’d choose a book from classic literature.
The biggest football derby in Denmark is called New Firm, totally stolen from the Scottish Old Firm and New Firm, but I have no idea why.
I rarely reach for classic novels but my favorite has got to be Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brönte. I love how much it shows the nature of society back in Victorian England and how a woman could make her living. A lot of other books do that but the great thing about a classic novel like this is that Jane isn’t written to live up to modern standards. She’s kind of problematic (to use the Internet’s language) so an author today would never write such a character, and that’s where I think we can find value in classic works. Learning how people lived centuries before us can still teach us something.
10. Flags, Banners, Chants and Flares: Favourite piece of fan-created book content
Football would be nothing without the fans and the atmosphere they create at every game. Inspired by the loyalty, creativity and dedication shown by football fans, I thought it’d be a great idea to share a piece of art- any kind- created by fans inspired by books.
I don’t seek out fan art, so even though I see some here and there, it would be impossible for me to find it again. That’s why I’m grabbing onto that ‘any kind’ in the question and sharing some bookish blog posts I’ve been loving recently.
- Jessica @The Awkward Book Blogger edited book covers so that the characters weren’t holding weapons but food instead. Yes, that is as weird as it sounds but you need to check it out if you haven’t.
- Aisling @Aisling Hamill Books talked about why she stopped reading those novellas authors release as part of a larger series. It’s a very well-written post that mirrors a lot of my own thoughts on these novellas.
- Naemi @A Book Owl’s Corner shared some… questionable advice on how to get people to engage with your blog. There might be sarcasm involved.
Well, I had to get a bit creative here and there, so makes sure you check out Nefeli’s original tag to see how the tag is done properly. I just love football too much to not do this tag, so even though it was a bit difficult, I still had a lot of fun with it. I don’t know anyone who would be interested in doing this tag but if that’s you, please consider yourself tagged. But let me know what you thought of my answers.