It's time for the 2012 Premier League Reading Stars program, in which England's schoolkids are encouraged to read by professional athletes pretending to love books. To kick off the program, 20 Premier Leaguers—one from each club—were asked to name their favorite adult and children's books. The results are in, and it's a dark day for literacy.
Some selections are unimpeachable. Harper Lee, Bram Stoker, Alexandre Dumas, and two Paulo Coelhos appear (Owen Hargreaves and Stuart Holden both chose The Alchemist). These are acceptable grown-up books, even if you read them first in high school.
Then there's the predictable airport books. The Da Vinci Code is the best adult book Manchester United's Chris Smalling has ever read. But Wolverhampton's Stephen Ward goes further back in Dan Brown's oeuvre, selecting Digital Fortress. Sunderland's John O'Shea likes him some John Grisham.
There's a lot of Rowling. Chris Smalling picks Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire as his favorite children's book; Tottenham's Niko Kranjcar picks Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone as his. Meanwhile, Theo Walcott also picks a Harry Potter novel—as his favorite adult book. To be fair, it's a step up from Walcott's favorite kids book: T.J. and the Hat-Trick, by Theo Walcott.
One other player selected his own book. Stoke City's Carlo Nash decided the best book for adults he's ever read is Family Adventures in Style—a luxury travel guide written by him and his wife. Perhaps players should have been allowed to answer "N/A" for this survey.
Premier League stars embrace literacy drive [PremierLeague.com]