Get Set For the Summer Olympics!

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”

The Olympic Games are the world’s only truly global, multi-sport, celebratory athletics competition. With more than 200 countries participating in over 400 events across the Summer and Winter Games, the Olympics are where the world comes to compete, feel inspired, and be together.  Growing up, I used to excitedly watch the four year spectacle of the summer Olympics on television, especially events like gymnastics and athletics.  I would also be awed by the pomp and fervour of the opening ceremony and watch excitedly as the best athletes of different nations set new records in the course of 16 days.

The Tokyo Summer Olympics, delayed by a year because of the pandemic, will begin on Friday, July 23 and end on Sunday, August 8.  The Paralympic Games begin on August 24 and end on September 5.

Here are some books/ebooks (including fiction) and films about previous games, profiles of inspiring Olympic champions, and histories of the Games , all available with your Livingston Library card, that can help infuse you with the Olympic spirit.

The Boys In the Boat : Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest For Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

The story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. It is the story of the team that defeated elite rivals at Hitler’s 1936 Berlin Olympics, sharing the experiences of their enigmatic coach, a visionary boat builder, and a homeless teen rower.

Bravey : Chasing Dreams, Befriending Pain, and Other Big Ideas by Alexis Pappas

The Olympic runner, actress, filmmaker and writer Alexi Pappas shares what she’s learned about confidence, self-reliance, mental health, embracing pain, and achieving your dreams. In a single year, 2016, she made her Olympic debut as a distance runner and wrote, directed, and starred in her first feature film. But great highs are often accompanied by deep lows; with joy comes sorrow. Here Pappas fearlessly and honestly shares her battle with post-Olympic depression and describes how she emerged on the other side as a thriving and self-actualized woman. 

Chasing Grace What the Quarter Mile Has Taught Me about God and Life by Sanya Richards-Ross

Sanya shares triumphant as well as heartbreaking stories as she reveals her journey to becoming a world-class runner. From her childhood in Jamaica to Athens, Beijing and London Olympics, readers will find themselves inspired by the unique insights she’s gained through her victories and losses, including her devastating injury during the 2016 Olympic Trials forcing career retirement just weeks before Rio. 

Courage to Soar (with Bonus Content) A Body in Motion, A Life in Balance by Simone Biles & Michelle Burford

Simone Biles’ entrance into the world of gymnastics may have started on a daycare field trip in her hometown of Spring, Texas, but her talent, passion, and perseverance have made her one of the top gymnasts in the world. But there is more to Simone than the nineteen medals–fourteen of them gold–and the Olympic successes. Here, in her own words, Simone takes you through the events, challenges, and trials that carried her from an early childhood in foster care to a coveted spot on the 2016 Olympic team. Along the way, Simone shares the details of her inspiring personal story–one filled with the kinds of daily acts of courage that led her, and can lead you, to even the most unlikely of dreams.

Dare To Make History : Chasing A Dream and Fighting For Equity by Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson [and] Monique Lamoureux-Morando

Twins Joceylyne and Monique started playing ice hockey with their four older brothers and their friends on a frozen pond next to their home in North Dakota. No girls hockey teams, no problem–they just played on boys teams. They went on to win six World Championships and played in three Olympics, winning two silver medals and ultimately a gold medal in South Korea in 2018 for the USA Women’s National Team. 

Dream Team : How Michael, Magic, Larry, Charles, and the Greatest Team of All Time Conquered the World and Changed the Game of Basketball Forever by Jack McCallum

Sports journalist McCallum delivers the untold story of the greatest team ever assembled: the 1992 U.S. Olympic Men’s Basketball Team that captivated the world, kindled the hoop dreams of countless children around the planet, and remade the NBA into a global sensation.  

Fast Girls: A Novel of the 1936 Women’s Olympic Team by Elise Hooper

The gripping, real life history of female athletes, members of the first integrated women’s Olympic team, and their journeys to the 1936 summer games in Berlin, Nazi Germany. 

The Games by James Patterson & Mark Sullivan

Jack Morgan—the head of the renowned worldwide investigation firm Private-has returned to Rio de Janeiro to secure the Olympics. But before the torch is lit, the threats come fast and furious as Jack discovers that someone is trying to sabotage the games. A lethal plan put in motion during the World Cup is set to decimate Rio, and turn the Olympics from a worldwide celebration into a horrifying spectacle.

The Games : A Global History of the Olympics by David Goldblatt

A magisterial history of the biggest sporting event of them all: the Olympics. Goldblatt tells the epic story of the Games from their reinvention in Athens in 1896 to the present day, chronicling classic moments of sporting achievement from Jesse Owens to Nadia Comăneci, the Miracle on Ice to Usain Bolt. He goes beyond the medal counts to explore how international conflicts have played out at the Olympics, including the role of the Games in Fascist Germany and Italy, the Cold War, and the struggles of the postcolonial world for recognition.

The Making of a Miracle The Untold Story of the Captain of the 1980 Gold Medal–Winning U.S. Olympic Hockey Team by Mike Eruzione & Neal Boudette

Mike Eruzione—the captain of the 1980 U.S Men’s Olympic Hockey Team and the scorer of the winning goal—recounts the legendary upset against the Soviets, winning the gold medal, and his amazing career on the ice.  It is the greatest American underdog sports story ever told: how a team of college kids and unsigned amateurs, under the tutelage of legendary coach—and legendary monster—Herb Brooks, beat the elite Soviet hockey team on their way to winning the gold medal at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics. 

Olympic Pride, American Prejudice : The Untold Story of 18 African Americans who Defied Jim Crow and Adolf Hitler to Compete In the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Deborah Riley Draper

Discover the astonishing, inspirational, and largely unknown true story of the eighteen African American athletes who competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, defying the racism of both Nazi Germany and the Jim Crow South.

Proud: My Fight for an Unlikely American Dream by Ibtihaj Muhammad & Lori Tharps

This is the story of the first female Muslim American to compete for the United States in the Olympics. Growing up in New Jersey as the only African American Muslim in hijab in town, at school, and on the playing fields, Ibtihaj Muhammad always had to find her own way. When she discovered fencing, a sport traditionally reserved for the wealthy and white, once again she had to defy expectations and make a place for herself in a sport she grew to love. From winning state championships to three-time All-America selections at Duke University, Ibtihaj was poised for success, but the fencing community wasn’t ready to welcome her with open arms just yet. As the only woman of color and the only religious minority on Team USA’s saber fencing squad, Ibtihaj had to chart her own path to success and Olympic glory.

Tigerbelle: The Wyomia Tyus Story by Wyomia Tyus and  Elizabeth Terzakis

In 1968, Wyomia Tyus became the first person ever to win gold medals in the 100-meter sprint in two consecutive Olympic Games, a feat that would not be repeated for twenty years or exceeded for almost fifty. Tigerbelle chronicles Tyus’s journey from her childhood as the daughter of a tenant dairy farmer through her Olympic triumphs to her post-competition struggles to make a way for herself and other female athletes.

Triumph : The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler’s Olympics by Jeremy Schaap

In 1936, against a backdrop of swastikas flying and storm troopers goose-stepping, an African-American son of sharecroppers won a staggering four Olympic gold medals and single-handedly crushed Hitler’s myth of Aryan supremacy. The story of Jesse Owens at the 1936 games is that of a high-profile athlete giving a performance that transcends sports.


Chariots of Fire 

An exciting, inspiring true story of Harold Abrahams, Eric Liddell, and the dedicated team of athletic competitors who brought victory to Britain in the 1924 Olympics.

 Winner of four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, in 1982. Based on the novel of the same title by W.J. Weatherby.

Going For Gold : The ’48 Games

Two men from very different backgrounds are teamed up as double sculling partners six weeks before the 1948 Olympics in London.


At the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, the Palestinian terrorist group Black September kills 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team. Avner Kaufman, a Mossad agent of German-Jewish descent, is chosen to lead a mission to assassinate 11 Palestinians allegedly involved in the massacre. Based on true events. Written by Tony Kushner and directed by Steven Spielberg.

Olympic Pride, American Prejudice

1936, 18 African-American athletes participated in the Berlin Olympic Games, however history forgot all except one. This is the story of the other 17.

-Archana, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian

Celebrate Eid ul-Adha: Books by Muslim Authors

Eid ul-Adha (‘Festival of Sacrifice’) is one of the most important festivals in the Muslim calendar.  It remembers the prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son when God ordered him to.  This year, Eid ul-Adha will begin on the evening of Monday 19 July and end on the evening of Friday 23 July.

To celebrate this important Muslim holiday we present a list of books by Muslim authors.  Their voices allow us a glimpse into the Muslim experience and are all  available to borrow  with your Livingston Library card.

The Bad Muslim Discount : A Novel by Syed Masood

Following two families from Pakistan and Iraq in the 90s through to San Francisco in 2016, a comic novel about being Muslim immigrants in modern America.

The Beauty of Your Face : A Novel by Sahar Mustafah

A Palestinian American woman wrestles with faith, loss, and identity before coming face- to- face with a school shooter in this searing debut.

The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson

A novel that tells the story of Fatima, a concubine in the royal court of Granada, the last emirate of Muslim Spain, and her dearest friend Hassan, the palace mapmaker. Hassan has a secret–he can draw maps of places he’s never seen and bend the shape of reality. When representatives of the newly formed Spanish monarchy arrive to negotiate the sultan’s surrender, Fatima befriends one of the women, not realizing that she will see Hassan’s gift as sorcery and a threat to Christian Spanish rule. With their freedoms at stake, what will Fatima risk to save Hassan and escape the palace walls? 

Bird Summons by Leila Aboulela

When Salma, Moni, and Iman–friends and active members of their local Muslim Women’s group–decide to take a road trip together to the Scottish Highlands, they leave behind lives often dominated by obligation, frustrated desire, and dull predictability.  When the women are visited by the Hoopoe, a sacred bird from Muslim and Celtic literature, they are compelled to question their relationships to faith and femininity, love, loyalty, and sacrifice.

Exit West : A Novel by Mohsin Hamid

In an unnamed city with strict social mores, young Nadia is a rebel, an atheist who chooses to live and work independently. In religious and unassuming Saeed she finds the perfect companion. As the two fall in love, their romance is tinged with a sense of urgency and inevitability as the city falls to militia, and basic freedoms and food quickly become rarities. When the situation turns dire, Saeed and Nadia decide to migrate as thousands already have and cobble together every last bit of their savings to find safe passage out. Caught in the whirlpool of refugees from around the world, Saeed and Nadia are tossed around like flotsam, the necessity of survival binding them together more than any starry-eyed notion of romance ever could.

God : a Human History by Reza Aslan

A reader-friendly overview of how God came to inhabit the minds and psyches of humanity, noting how, from the first go, people conceived Him (and Her) in their own images. Aslan calls this process of personification hardwired in our brains and is, thus, central to religion. At various points, he offers psychological analysis to bolster his theory. Aslan marches through history, beginning with ancient ancestors and including a stop to look at cave paintings. When organized religion comes into focus, Aslan describes how the concept of one god evolved from many gods.

Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin

A young woman juggles pursuing her dream job in radio while helping her family compete with the new halal restaurant across the street, in this rom-com.

Homeland Elegies : A Novel by Ayad Akhtar

A deeply personal work about identity and belonging in a nation coming apart at the seams, Homeland Elegies blends fact and fiction to tell an epic story of longing and dispossession in the world that 9/11 made. Part family drama, part social essay, part picaresque novel, at its heart it is the story of a father, a son, and the country they both call home.

It’s Not About the Burqa : Muslim Women on Faith, Feminism, Sexuality and Race edited by Mariam Khan

 A compilation of essays written by 17 Muslim women from around the world. These stories cover everything from navigating the workplace as Muslim women, to misogyny within their individual Muslim communities and beyond, and the hijab and what it means for faith — all whilst challenging the notions of oppression, Islamophobia and misogyny.

Prey : Immigration, Islam, and The Erosion of Women’s Rights by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Ali argues that waves of Muslim immigration are transforming sexual politics in Europe in ways that threaten to undermine the hard-won rights of Western women.

Salt Houses by Hala Alyan

In what feels like a very personal debut novel, the award-winning poet Alyan, her lyrical skills on full display, traces four generations of the Yacoub family as they are forced into the ranks of the Palestinian diaspora. Constantly uprooted by war, Salma, Hussam, and their children Widad, Alia, and Mustafa make disparate decisions that have ramifications for their offspring over five decades.

10 Minutes 38 Seconds In This Strange World by Elif Shafak

In the first minute following her death, Tequila Leila’s consciousness began to ebb, slowly and steadily, like a tide receding from the shore. Her brain cells, having run out of blood, were now completely deprived of oxygen. But they did not shut down. Not right away …’ Our brains stay active for ten minutes after our heart stops beating. For Tequila Leila, each minute brings with it a new memory – growing up with her father and his two wives in a grand old house in a quiet Turkish town; watching the women gossip and wax their legs while the men went to mosque; sneaking cigarettes and Western magazines on her way home from school; running away to Istanbul to escape an unwelcome marriage; falling in love with a student who seeks shelter from a riot in the brothel where she works.

The Thirty Names of Night : A Novel by Zeyn Joukhadar.

A remarkably moving and lyrical novel following three generations of Syrian Americans who are linked by the truths they carry close to their hearts. 

Threading My Prayer Rug One Woman’s Journey from Pakistani Muslim to American Muslim by Sabeeha Rehman

This enthralling story of the making of an American is a timely meditation on being Muslim in America today.  It is also the luminous story of many journeys: from Pakistan to the United States in an arranged marriage that becomes a love match lasting forty-five years; from secular Muslim in an Islamic society to devout Muslim in a society ignorant of Islam, and from liberal to conservative to American Muslim; from bride to mother; and from an immigrant intending to stay two years to an American citizen, business executive, grandmother, and tireless advocate for interfaith understanding.

Unmarriageable : a Novel by Soniah Kamal

A retelling of the classic “Pride and Prejudice.”set in Pakistan. The Binat family endures a scandal that destroys their fortune and prospects for marriage. But Alys, the headstrong second oldest daughter, doesn’t care for marriage and is perfectly content in her singlehood.

We Are Not Here To Be Bystanders : A Memoir of Love and Resistance by Linda Sarsour

Women’s March co-organizer Sarsour shares how growing up Palestinian Muslim American, feminist, and empowered moved her to become a globally recognized and celebrated activist on behalf of marginalized communities across the country

When The Moon is Low by Nadia Hashimi

When her happy middle-class life in Afghanistan is shattered by the rise of the Taliban and her husband’s murder by fundamentalists, former schoolteacher Fereiba embarks on a high-risk effort to escape to England with her three children.

A Woman Is No Man : A Novel by Etaf Rum

Three generations of Palestinian-American women in contemporary Brooklyn are torn by individual desire, educational ambitions, a devastating tragedy, and the strict mores of traditional Arab culture.

-Archana, Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian