From Kissinger to the Gruffalo: Footballers' reading habits revealed

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

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.

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

"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.

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"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."

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    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.

    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."

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