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Futebol Nation: A Footballing History of Brazil, by David Goldblatt, Penguin, RRP£9.99/ Nation Books, RRP$16.99

Brazil-lit has been the defining theme of the sports year so far. As Simon Kuper wrote in the FT recently, the story of this “futebol nation” is best told by British author Goldblatt, whose juggling of socio-economic analysis and sporting history explains how the development of the game has echoed Brazil’s debates about its place in the world.

Twelve Yards: The Art and Psychology of the Perfect Penalty, by Ben Lyttleton, Bantam Press, RRP£14.99

Another World Cup book, Lyttleton’s Twelve Yards, acquires particular resonance as the knockout stage of the tournament – where games can be decided by the dreaded penalty shoot-out – begins. English fans have been spared customary heartbreak by the team thoughtfully finding other ways to get eliminated. Instead, they can use this excellent primer to enjoy other countries’ misery.

The Climb, by Chris Froome, Viking, RRP£20

Britain’s cycling boom – fuelled by two successive Tour de France wins – has produced an upsurge in books about the sport. With 2013 champ Chris Froome hot favourite to win again next month, his recent autobiography The Climb is hard to beat for a top pro’s perspective.

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