With two more months until the start of the new season, what better way to get a Reading FC fix than by reading about them by the pool, drink in hand on holiday?
But which to choose? Books about specific teams are by their nature niche, but I am very pleased to say that there are a number about the Royals. I’ll look below at the three I’ve read, plus a few more recommendations for you to try in the summer months.
The Sum of the Parts - Jon Keen
What better way to keep the positive end-of-season atmosphere at the Mad Stad than to read about Sir Steve, the magical 106-point promotion and our two seasons in the Premier League?
Jon Keen is a founding member of the Supporters Trust (and Tilehurst End writer!) so passion and accuracy are guaranteed, but what could have so easily been a simple narrative of the players and major games is impressively crafted by the questions he asks, giving an insightful and complete story.
Was it simply the mastery of Sir Steve and the quality of the team or were other factors equally or more important? The legacy of Alan Pardew, the evolution of Nicky Hammond’s role and the crucial influence of consultancy firm Catalyst are interwoven with the sheer joy of remembering those unforgettable moments.
If you have not read it I can think of no better book to get your Reading fix this summer. My next choice is a very different book - it is about the fallible superstar and, when it comes to Reading, this can only mean one man...
The Greatest Footballer You Never Saw - Paulo Hewitt and Paul McGuigan
Of all the great Reading players of the past, only one is still frequently seen on the back of a replica shirt: Robin Friday. Yet I knew so little about the player or the man who has taken on mythical status until I read this book. A flawed genius, he played and lived by his own rules, partying as hard as he played. As a Reading fan it is amazing that his star only shone bright while in our blue and white hoops.
Written by music journalist Paulo Hewitt and ex-Oasis drummer Paul McGuigan, with no prior knowledge of their subject, they tell the story through the memories of family, players, Reading manager Charlie Hurley and a LOT of edited newspaper reports. I would have preferred far more from the authors themselves, but the stories are entertaining and I found myself wishing I could have been at Elm Park for the goal that led World Cup referee Clive Thomas to say it was the best he’d ever seen.
The only similarity with Jon Keen’s work is the tragic ending, but it is also a book about pure footballing genius and a memory of just how different football was in the 1970s. My final book attempts to cover the rest the rest of Reading’s history in just 220 pages.
The Little Book of Reading FC - Alan Sedunary
If you have lots of distractions on holiday or you prefer newspapers and social media, this might just be the answer. A compilation of facts and stories of anything and everything related to Reading FC which is easy to pick up for a few minutes and can be read in any order.
Alan is a lifelong Reading fan who has written for the matchday programme for over 30 years, and so he has a vast collection of stories and facts covering subjects as diverse as the history of women’s football at Reading, quotes about all our former managers and the six best penalty shoot-outs with the Simod Cup semi-final getting the top spot.
Although it is a few years old now, it is treasure trove of information about our club and well worth checking out.
Non-Reading FC books
If you have time for more football books this summer then here are three that will be on the plane with me on holiday.
How To Be A Footballer - Peter Crouch
The summer sports blockbuster. The reviews are fantastic, his podcast is really funny and this promises more of the same.
The Boy on the Shed - Paul Ferris
A very different kind of autobiography, this is a story of the would-be superstar who never made it as a player. It has just won the Telegraph Sports Book of the Year and was also shortlisted for the William Hill award too it. It offers a moving account of a life in the beautiful game.
The Barcelona Legacy - Jonathan Wilson
A story of the origins of the tactics of the modern game, I thought this might help me understand Jose Gomes’ football philosophy better. This was written by the author who gave us the best book on football tactics: Inverting The Pyramid.
You can find Martin’s own book-related website, The Best Part of Ordinary, right here. It’s well worth checking out!