Happy Friday, everyone!
With the UEFA European Football Championship currently ongoing, soccer fever has Europe well in its clutches – and I am no exception. Seriously, I’m severely sleep deprived at the moment, because watching all these matches has meant I’ve had to postpone other things – such as homework, thesis work, or writing blogposts – pretty late into the night… But I’m not really all too upset 😁
And since Nefeli over at BiblioNebula – who is from Greece, happens to be one of my favorite bloggers, and is one of the biggest soccer fans out there – came up with this awesome soccer-related tag, I knew I had to do it immediately!! I mean, at the rate Germany is going, I’m not so sure they’re even going to make it past the group phase, so I had to post this while there was still a chance, you know? Soccer season is the only time I ever really get patriotic, so I don’t think I could stomach posting this after Germany gets kicked out. How is this the country that beat Brazil 7-1 seven years ago? That game on Tuesday was an absolute embarrassment 🙈
Still, I’m keeping my fingers crossed, and if Germany does get kicked out, Line @ First Line Reader has already assured me that I should root for Denmark instead. Which is probably not a bad idea (at least if Denmark defeats Russia and Finland doesn’t miraculously end up slaughtering Belgium), because after that huge emotional shock on Saturday, when Danish player Christian Eriksen nearly died on the field during their match against Finland, I am even more invested in their team than ever before. (Even though the Finns have an owl mascot, which was almost enough to convince me to switch sides at the beginning of that match.)
But anyway, before I start rambling on and on about soccer, let’s get into the tag and start talking about books!
[Oh, and by the way, Nefeli, I’m sorry for always using the word “soccer”. We call it Fußball (football) in Germany as well, so I feel your pain! But I use American English, so I will have to give in to this naming mistake for the sake of continuity. 😅]
⚽ 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.
I have to go with The Invention of Hugo Cabret for this one because “beautiful” perfectly encapsulates everything about this historical fiction novel. Not just the story, which is about an orphaned boy who lives in a train station and loves to fix things, but also the way it is told: While half the book is written in regular prose, the other half consists of intricately drawn charcoal pictures. Somehow, this storytelling style works perfectly, and is also responsible for one of the most gorgeous books I’ve ever seen! And that cover! 😍 Doesn’t that clockwork design immediately draw you in?
⚽ 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.
Call me a basic German, but for me, nothing can compete with Goethe and Schiller. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Erlkönig and Totentanz, as well as Friedrich Schiller’s Bürgschaft, are probably my favorite poems of all time.
Arguably Germany’s most famous ballad, Erlkönig (literally: “Alder King”) is about a child being stolen away into an Elven King’s realm or, depending on how you interpret it, about a boy hallucinating as he is dying of fever. It has inspired countless artists and composers – and rightfully so, because it’s awesome. In case you’d like to check it out, I’ve added a link to the poem together with an English translation 😉
Der Totentanz, also by Goethe, translates to “The Dance of Death” and is about skeletons coming alive in a graveyard at night. As a child, it creeped me out like nobody’s business, but I kept asking my parents to recite it for me anyway.
And finally, we have Die Bürgschaft (“The Pledge”). After receiving a death sentence from his king, the hero of this poem is granted his dying wish: He can visit his family one last time to say his goodbyes – as long as his friend stays behind and accepts that he will die in his companion’s stead if the latter doesn’t return before three days are up…
What can I say? I guess I just love gruesome classical poetry 😂 Modern stuff simply can’t compete.
⚽ 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?
Insta-love would certainly get a direct red card from me. But since I’ve already vented at it a ton on this blog, I’m gonna go ahead and disqualify another contestant: unnecessary miscommunication.
Don’t get me wrong – sometimes I actually like the miscommunication trope. If done right, the resulting angst and pain can be off the charts, and it’s wonderful! But I’m talking about the type of miscommunication that is only there for plot purposes. The type that makes no logical sense at all. The so-and-so said they had to tell me something important and I trust them with my life, but oh my God, they said something that could be understood as a proclamation of love to this other person, so I’m just going to storm off and never talk to them again, even though our lives are currently in danger, we really need to work together right now, and I’m obviously the person they love anyway kind of miscommunication. I HATE IT!!!
⚽ 4. National Teams: A book from your country ⚽
You didn’t think I was going to pick just one, did you? 😁
If you’re a fantasy nerd like me and would like to dip your toes into German literature, I would highly recommend reading something by Cornelia Funke. Almost all of her books have been translated into English, and Inkheart (original title: Tintenherz), which is about a girl whose father has the ability to make characters come to life by reading them out of books, is one of my favorites!
However, if you’re currently learning German and would like something fun to practice your skills with, I’d suggest checking out Robbi, Tobbi und das Fliewatüüt by Boy Lornsen. This is an extremely popular German children’s book about a boy and a robot flying around the world in a machine powered by raspberry juice, and it has also been adapted to screen on several occasions. However, as far as I’m aware, it has never been translated into English. Why is that, translators? You’d better get a move on! This was one of my favorite books growing up, and I’m sure English-speaking kids would also really like 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?
I would love for M. L. Rio to write us some historical fantasy. After reading If We Were Villains, I have no doubt that she would be able to deliver lyrical writing and flawed, but interesting and diverse characters, along with some ingeniously dark twists. I would love to see what she’d be capable of if she added magic and politics into the mix, because I’m sure it’d be absolutely epic!
⚽ 6. World Cup: Recommend a translated novel ⚽
The Shadow of the Wind is such a lyrical book that I’m genuinely sad my Spanish knowledge pretty much consists of “¡Hola! Me llamo Naemi, me gustan los libros y yo hablo muy mal el español.” 😅 Because if the English translation is already this good, what must the original be like? Set in Barcelona during the 1940s, The Shadow of the Wind is intriguing, suspenseful and atmospheric, and I would highly recommend it if you like books about books. This one is about the hunt for the author of a very mysterious novel, and I guarantee you that it’ll be very hard to put down.
⚽ 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?
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. I mean, everyone said it was good, but reading about a Hollywood actress with tons of men in her life seemed like just about the last thing I’d be interested in 😅 But then the book got raving review after raving review, even from people whose reading tastes tended to be pretty similar to mine, and I got curious enough that I decided to at least see what all the fuss was about. And then the book shot straight to the top of my 2018 favorites list!
⚽ 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 vs. 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 pick The Fate of the Tearling. The ending of this book is basically a textbook definition of deus ex machina. In the worst way possible 😤😡😤 My hatred at how things were resolved in this finale is still going strong, despite it being over three years since I read it.
⚽ 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, choose a book from classic literature.
The list of classics I love is almost endless. There’s Othello, Emma, Jane Eyre, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Ivanhoe, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Lord of the Rings, pretty much anything by Edgar Allan Poe…
But the one that tops them all is Anne of Green Gables! The entire series is absolute perfection, and I’m actually on my second copies because the first ones started to fall apart due to me rereading them so often 😅 Anne’s story is just so wholesome – although the books do get decidedly darker towards the end of the series – and you can’t help but admire her enthusiasm and imagination. Anne is definitely a kindred spirit of mine! 🥰
⚽ 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’ve made it no secret on this blog that I absolutely adore music – which means I love reading about it in books, too! The only problem is that I picture everything I read extremely vividly, but coming up with good music on the spot is kind of hard 🙈 I’m not exactly great at composing stuff in general, so whatever music I imagine on a first read-through is usually either very uncreative, extremely similar to something I’ve heard before, or, worst of all, “kind of blurry”, meaning that I can’t focus on the notes because I’m unable to imagine what they would sound like.
So I think it’s awesome that there are creative musical people out there who actually take the time to set some of our well-loved book lyrics to music! I think it’s really interesting to see how different people interpret the text, and I love that it helps me picture things better.
Anyway, one such song that I really like is Emma Lee’s interpretation of The Ballad of Lucy Gray Baird from Suzanne Collins’ The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.
[Also, I proudly stand by my opinion that The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is absolutely amazing. I don’t care if everyone else hates it. I can appreciate its brilliance all by myself if I have to.]
⚽ I Tag ⚽
Since I’m currently so obsessed with the Euros, I’m going to be tagging some of my fellow European bloggers whose countries are also still in the running:
🏴 Althea @ Althea is Reading
🏴 Zoë @ Reading by the Moonlight
Don’t feel obligated to do this unless you want to, though! And may the best team win!
(Actually, just kidding. I want Germany to win 😜)
Anyway, that was it for today! I hope you had fun reading, and if you’re following the Euros or the Copa América, let me know which team you’re rooting for! And if not, do you at least like soccer? Or any other type of sport, for that matter? Have you read any of the books I mentioned here? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!