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.

Movies

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.

Munich

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

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