Skip to main content

From Kissinger to the Gruffalo: Footballers' reading habits revealed

updated 8:49 AM EDT, Tue May 7, 2013
Nobel Peace Prize winner Henry Kissinger's On China is on a list of books recommended by EPL players.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Henry Kissinger's On China is on a list of books recommended by EPL players.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The English Premier League releases list of footballers' favorite books
  • Players' choices include titles by Henry Kissinger, J.R.R. Tolkien and Dan Brown
  • The list forms part of the Premier League Reading Stars campaign
  • The program aims to encourage kids to take up reading

(CNN) -- A heavyweight tome of 536-pages "On China" was described by the New York Times as "fascinating, shrewd and sometimes perverse".

Now the analysis of Sino-American relations written by Nobel Peace Prize winner Henry Kissinger, has received an altogether different endorsement, appearing alongside titles such as "The Complete Roman Army" and "The Gruffalo" in a list of books recommended by the soccer stars of the English Premier League.

The eclectic selection forms part of the elite football division's campaign to encourage children to take up reading.

Read: FIFA bans ExCo member Blazer

The Premier League Reading Stars campaign sees soccer players set literacy challenges for children using online videos, with footballers also recommending their favorite books.

Hargreaves: Scholes is the best
CNN Football Club: Bayern dominate Barca
Friedel: 'Bale can be world's best'

"I encourage everybody to read as much as possible because knowledge is power and makes you a more rounded person," said U.S. midfielder Clint Dempsey, Tottenham Hotspur's representative in the Reading Stars program.

"Not every story will interest you but when you find one that does it can be really fun to get wrapped up in the story.

"Unlike in movies and video games, with reading you get the opportunity to paint your own picture, which gives you power and creative influence over the story."

Read: FIFA plots anti-racism fight

Each English Premier League star picked one book for children and one for adults.

Dempsey, who has 94 caps for the U.S. national team, chose Alice Schertle's "Little Blue Truck" as his favorite kid's book and J.R.R. Tolkien's magical epic "The Hobbit" as his adult selection.

The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown

Joe Allen, Liverpool

The Gruffalo, Julia Donaldson

Scott Sinclair, Man City

On China, Henry Kissinger

Ryan Nelsen, QPR

The Hobbit, J. R. R. Tolkien

Clint Dempsey, Tottenham

The Green Mile, Stephen King

Ben Foster, West Brom

Sports biographies featured heavily on the list.

Manchester City midfielder Scott Sinclair opted for Pele's autobiography while Arsenal's German defender Per Mertesacker picked out "A Life Too Short" -- the story of his former international teammate Robert Enke who committed suicide in 2009.

"On China" was the choice of Ryan Nelsen, a New Zealander who recently left Queens Park Rangers to become coach of Canadian Major League Soccer team Toronto FC.

"To date Premier League Reading Stars has helped over 44,000 children," explained Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore.

"The schools we work in are those that have the most to gain from the program; they have low achievement in literacy and high numbers of children from poorer homes.

"I'm very proud that we are both partners and sponsors of this effective program. Now we're having an even wider impact as everyone can watch their football heroes reading online and answer their challenge questions to win rewards."

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:29 AM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
Major League Soccer has snared another big name from England with former Chelsea star Frank Lampard committing his future to New York City FC.
The U.S. government recognizes Kosovo, as do most European states, but getting football's ruling bodies to play ball has proved harder.
updated 11:04 AM EDT, Wed June 4, 2014
National heroes don't always belong to one country. Ask France's World Cup hero Patrick Vieira, who is rediscovering his roots.
CNN's John Sinnott on the quiet Cambridge graduate behind Liverpool's resurgent campaign.
updated 11:19 AM EDT, Fri May 30, 2014
They are the dispossessed -- stateless, and unrecognized by football's ruling body. But these teams will still play at their own World Cup.
Louis van Gaal will be a perfect fit for Manchester United the club, business and brand, says CNN's Patrick Snell.
updated 3:24 PM EDT, Mon May 19, 2014
There's a new force in Spanish football -- and Atletico Madrid's ascendance is sharply contrasted by the fall from power of Barcelona.
updated 8:06 AM EDT, Tue May 13, 2014
Rubber bullets, drones and FBI-trained riot police. Welcome to Brazil's 2014 World Cup -- will protests overshadow football's showpiece event?
updated 9:18 AM EDT, Fri May 9, 2014
The former England international, who famously kicked a banana off the pitch 27 years ago, says education is the key to tackling racism.
updated 8:00 AM EDT, Wed May 7, 2014
Of course not. But former Fulham owner Mohamed Al Fayed seems to think the removal of Michael Jackson's statue was a very "bad" idea.
updated 12:03 PM EDT, Wed May 7, 2014
BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 01: Neymar of Barcelona celebrates his goal during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final first leg match between FC Barcelona and Club Atletico de Madrid at Camp Nou on April 1, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
The Brazilian star's first season in Spain may have spluttered along, but the 22-year-old says he'll be firing on all cylinders at the World Cup.
updated 1:15 PM EDT, Wed April 30, 2014
Former Soviet footballer Sergei Baltacha traveled from the land of the hammer and sickle to join The Tractor Boys and in doing so broke new ground.
updated 5:31 AM EDT, Tue April 29, 2014
Brazil's Dani Alves arrived at Barcelona from Sevilla in 2008 and he has gone on to make over 180 appearances for the club.
Villarreal football supporter who threw a banana at Barcelona's Dani Alves during league match handed a life ban by the La Liga club.
ADVERTISEMENT