As I first talked about a few months ago, the Olympics (and particularly the Summer Olympics) is my all-time favorite sports event. So, when the Summer Olympics rolls around every four years, I turn into quite the fanatic…in my TV viewing and my reading!
8 Books About the Olympics
In the Water They Can’t See You Cry: A Memoir by Amanda Beard
Seven-time Olympic swimming medalist Amanda Beard candidly talks about what it was like to be in the spotlight at such a young age, her struggle with depression and cutting, her experimentation with drugs, and her return to swimming after having a baby.
Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The Making and Breaking of Elite Gymnasts and Figure Skaters by Joan Ryan
An investigation of the grueling training practices in elite gymnastics and figure skating…and the physical impact on young girls.
One Day in September by Simon Reeve
The story of the 1972 terrorist attack at the Munich Olympics and Israel’s operation (“Wrath of God”) to hunt down every one of the surviving terrorist. There was also an award-winning documentary of the same name that was released in conjunction with the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Rome 1960: The Olympics That Changed the World by David Maraniss
I’m listening to the audio of this book right now. I’m about halfway through and am learning a lot about the first Olympics that contained a doping scandal, the beginnings of sponsorship deals for athletes, and a teenage Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali.
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown (review)
This book has been everywhere…but it really is one of my favorite books about the Olympics. I got wrapped up in the excitement of Joe Rantz and the University of Washington rowers’ quest to win gold and loved the historical background of the 1936 Berlin Olympics, which was used as a propaganda instrument by the Nazis.
The Secret Olympian: The Inside Story of the Olympic Experience by Anonymous
A member of the 2004 Great Britain Olympic team gives an honest and juicy behind the scenes account of the Olympic experience – his own and that of fellow Olympians. This is the Olympics “gossip” book!
The Three-Year Swim Club: The Untold Story of Maui’s Sugar Ditch Kids and Their Quest for Olympic Glory by Julie Checkoway (review)
The true story of a Hawaiian sugar plantation elementary school teacher (Soichi Sakamoto) who trained (starting in an irrigation ditch!) a group of mostly Japanese-American children to swim for the Olympics in the late 1930’s/40’s. With all the history about training methods, this is truly a swimming nerd’s book!
You Will Know Me: A Novel by Megan Abbott
A dark, twisty novel set in the world of elite competitive gymnastics. I just read this one and I couldn’t put it down. It’s going on my 2016 Summer Reading Guide and my Sports Books list.
And a bonus documentary…
The Last Gold: The Greatest Untold Story in Olympic Swimming History
This documentary about the U.S. women’s quest to beat the steroid-riddled East Germans to win just one swimming gold medal at the 1976 Montreal Olympics premiered at the L.A. Film Festival this summer. I’m still trying to find out how to watch it at home. It appears to only be available through in person showings at this point.
Stay tuned for a few more Olympics-themed posts over the next few weeks.
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