Reading list curated by Tracy |
The Summer Olympics are around the corner, with the opening ceremony set to take place Friday, August 5th. To help you get inspired and excited for the Olympics, we’ve compiled a list of nonfiction and fiction books related to the Olympics as well as nonfiction books on the topic of Brazil that are available from our library.
Gold: A Novel – Chris Cleave
“If your dreams pull you in one direction and your heart in another, which should you follow? This is the question that haunts Kate Meadows, a world champion athlete whose eight-year-old daughter Sophie is battling a recurrence of childhood leukemia just as Kate is about to compete for her last chance at an Olympic gold medal. For years, Kate has sacrificed everything for her family and watched her best friend and closest rival, Zoe Castle, conquer the world stage. Kate has never won gold and will have to go through Zoe—who has everything to lose—to get it. Now her child is facing a life-threatening illness, and the stakes are higher than ever. How can she do what is right for her daughter without abandoning all of her dreams?”
Flight from Berlin – David John
“August 1936: The eyes of the world are on Berlin, where Adolf Hitler is using the Olympic Games to showcase his powerful new regime. Cynical British journalist Richard Denham knows that the carefully staged spectacle masks the Nazis’ ruthless brutality, and he’s determined to report the truth. Sparks fly when the seasoned newspaperman meets the beautiful and rebellious American socialite Eleanor Emerson. A superb athlete whose brash behavior got her expelled from the U.S. Olympic swim team, Eleanor is now covering the games as a celebrity columnist for newspapers in the States. While Berlin welcomes the world, the Nazi capital becomes a terrifying place for Richard and Eleanor. Their chance encounter at a reception thrown by propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels leads them into the center of a treacherous game involving the Gestapo and the British Secret Intelligence Service. At stake: a mysterious dossier that threatens to destroy the leadership of the Third Reich. Drawn together by danger and passion, surrounded by enemies, Richard and Eleanor must pull off a daring plan to survive. But one wrong move could be their last.”
Private Games – James Patterson and Mark Sullivan
“Private, the world’s most renowned investigation firm, has been commissioned to provide security for the 2012 Olympic games in London. Its agents are the smartest, fastest, and most technologically advanced in the world, and 400 of them have been transferred to London to protect over 10,000 competitors who represent more than 200 countries. The opening ceremony is still hours away when private investigator and single father of twins, Nigel Steele, is called to the scene of a ruthless murder. A high-ranking member of the games’ organizing committee and his mistress have been killed. It is clear that it wasn’t a crime of passion, but one of precise calculation and execution. Newspaper reporter Karen Pope receives a letter from a person who calls himself Cronus claiming responsibility for the murders. He also proclaims that he will restore the Olympics to their ancient glory and will destroy all who have corrupted the games with lies, cheating, and greed. Karen immediately hires Private to examine the letter, and she and Nigel uncover a criminal genius who won’t stop until he has ended the games for good.”
The Games – James Patterson and Mark Sullivan
“Two years ago Jack Morgan—the head of the renowned worldwide investigation firm Private–was in charge of security for the World Cup in Brazil. During the championship final, the action nearly spilled from the field into the stands. Fortunately, Jack and his team averted disaster on football’s biggest stage. Now he has returned to Rio 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.”
Barracuda: A Novel – Christos Tsiolkas
“Fourteen-year-old Daniel Kelly is special. Despite his upbringing in working-class Melbourne, he knows that his astonishing ability in the swimming pool has the potential to transform his life, silence the rich boys at the private school to which he has won a sports scholarship, and take him far beyond his neighborhood, possibly to international stardom and an Olympic medal. Everything Danny has ever done, every sacrifice his family has ever made, has been in pursuit of this dream. But what happens when the talent that makes you special fails you? When the goal that you’ve been pursuing for as long as you can remember ends in humiliation and loss?
Twenty years later, Dan is in Scotland, terrified to tell his partner about his past, afraid that revealing what he has done will make him unlovable. When he is called upon to return home to his family, the moment of violence in the wake of his defeat that changed his life forever comes back to him in terrifying detail, and he struggles to believe that he’ll be able to make amends. Haunted by shame, Dan relives the intervening years he spent in prison, where the optimism of his childhood was completely foreign.
Tender, savage, and blazingly brilliant, Barracuda is a novel about dreams and disillusionment, friendship and family, class, identity, and the cost of success. As Daniel loses everything, he learns what it means to be a good person—and what it takes to become one.”
In the Water They Can’t See You Cry: A Memoir – Amanda Beard; with Rebecca Paley
“At the tender age of fourteen, Amanda Beard walked onto the pool deck at the Atlanta Olympics carrying her teddy bear, Harold, and left with two silvers and a gold medal. She competed in three more Olympic games, winning a total of seven medals, and enjoyed a lucrative modeling career on the side.
Her low self-esteem led to toxic relationships with high-profile men in the sports world. No one, not even her own parents and friends, knew about the turmoil she was going through. In these pages, she speaks frankly about her struggles with depression, the pressures to be thin, and the unhealthy relationships she confused for love. In the Water They Can’t See You Cry is a raw, compelling story of a woman who gained the strength to live as bravely out of the water as she did in it.
Age Is Just a Number: Achieve Your Dreams at Any Stage in Your Life – Dara Torres with Elizabeth Weil
“From legendary Olympic gold medalist Dara Torres comes a motivational, inspirational memoir about staying fit, aging gracefully, and pursuing your dreams. Dara Torres captured the hearts and minds of Americans of all ages when she launched her Olympic comeback as a new mother at the age of forty-one—years after she had retired from competitive swimming and eight years since her last Olympics. When she took three silver medals in Beijing—including a heartbreaking .01-second finish behind the gold medalist in the women’s 50-meter freestyle—America loved her all the more for her astonishing achievement and her good-natured acceptance of the results. Now, in Age Is Just a Number, Dara reveals how the dream of an Olympic comeback first came to her—when she was months into her first, hard-won pregnancy. With humor and candor, Dara recounts how she returned to serious training—while nursing her infant daughter and contending with her beloved father’s long battle with cancer. Dara talks frankly about diving back in for this comeback; about being an older athlete in a younger athletes’ game; about competition, doubt, and belief; about working through pain and uncertainty; and finally—about seizing the moment and, most important, never giving up. A truly self-made legend, her story will resonate with women of all ages—and with anyone daring to entertain a seemingly impossible dream.”
Wonder Girl: The Magnificent Sporting Life of Babe Didrikson Zaharias – Don Van Natta Jr.
“This is the extraordinary story of a nearly forgotten American superstar athlete. Texas girl Babe Didrikson never tried a sport too tough and never met a hurdle too high. Despite attempts to keep women from competing, Babe achieved All-American status in basketball and won gold medals in track and field at the 1932 Olympics.
Then Babe attempted to conquer golf.
One of the founders of the LPGA, Babe won more consecutive tournaments than any golfer in history. At the height of her fame, she was diagnosed with cancer. Babe would then take her most daring step of all: go public and try to win again with the hope of inspiring the world.”
Rome 1960: The Olympics That Changed the World – David Maraniss
“Author Maraniss weaves sports, politics, and history into a tour de force about the 1960 Olympics. Along with the unforgettable characters and dramatic contests, there was a deeper meaning to those days at the dawn of the sixties. Change was everywhere. Old-boy notions of Olympic amateurism were crumbling. Rome saw the first doping scandal, the first commercially televised Summer Games, the first athlete paid for wearing a certain brand. In the heat of the Cold War, the city teemed with spies and rumors of defections, and every move was judged for propaganda value. While East and West Germans competed as a unified team, less than a year before the Berlin Wall, there was a dispute over the two Chinas. Fourteen nations were being born in sub-Saharan Africa. There was increasing pressure to provide equal rights for blacks and women. The world as we know it was coming into view.”
“They were the Beatles of basketball, the Mercury Seven in sneakers. In Dream Team, acclaimed sports journalist Jack 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. As a senior staff writer for Sports Illustrated, McCallum enjoyed a courtside seat for the most exciting basketball spectacle on earth, covering the Dream Team from its inception to the gold medal ceremony in Barcelona. For the duration of the Olympics, he lived with, golfed with, and–most important–drank with some of the greatest players of the NBA’s Golden Age: Magic Johnson, the ebullient showman who shrugged off his recent diagnosis of HIV to become the team’s unquestioned captain and leader; Michael Jordan, the transcendent talent at the height of his powers as a player–and a marketing juggernaut; and Charles Barkley, the outspoken iconoclast whose utterances on and off the court threatened to ignite an international incident.”
Triumph: The Untold Story of Jesse Owens and Hitler’s Olympics – Jeremy Schaap
“At the 1936 Olympics, against a backdrop of swastikas and goose-stepping storm troopers, an African-American son of sharecroppers won a staggering four gold medals and single-handedly demonstrated that Hitler’s myth of Aryan supremacy was a lie. The story of Jesse Owens at the Berlin games is that of an athletic performance that transcends sports. It is also the intimate and complex tale of one remarkable man’s courage. Drawing on unprecedented access to the Owens family, previously unpublished interviews, and exhaustive archival research, Jeremy Schaap transports us to Germany and tells the dramatic tale of Owens and his fellow athletes at the contest dubbed the Nazi Olympics.
With his incisive reporting and rich storytelling, Schaap reveals what really happened over those tense, exhilarating weeks in a nuanced and riveting work of sports history.”
My Greek Drama: Life, Love, and One Woman’s Olympic Effort to Bring Glory to Her Country – Gianna Angelopoulos
“A book that captures the burning ambition of the rebellious girl from the island of Crete who “lit” the Olympic torch.
The world had doubted Greece’s ability to successfully stage the 2004 Olympic event. Angelopoulos led the effort to bring the Olympics back to Athens, and the phenomenally successful games were an effort that showed the world a new Greece, a Greece worthy of its illustrious heritage. Little did she know that a few years later her country would abandon the lessons of the Olympics and become embroiled in a political and economic crisis that would devastate Greece, and threaten the economic security of Europe.”
Fully Alive: Discovering What Matters Most – Timothy Shriver
“On a quest for what matters most, Timothy Shriver discovers the joy of being fully alive.
As chairman of Special Olympics, Timothy Shriver has dedicated his life to the world’s most forgotten minority–people with intellectual disabilities. And in a time when we are all more rudderless than ever, when we’ve lost our sense of what’s ultimately important, when we hunger for stability but get only uncertainty, he has looked to them for guidance. “Fully Alive” chronicles Shriver’s discovery of a radically different, and inspiring, way of life. We see straight into the lives of those who seem powerless but who have turned that into a power of their own, and through them learn that we are all totally vulnerable and totally valuable at the same time.
In addition, Shriver offers a new look at his family: his parents, Sargent and Eunice Shriver, and his uncles, John, Robert, and Edward Kennedy, all of whom were resolute advocates for those on the margins. Here, for the first time, Shriver explores the tremendous impact his aunt Rosemary, born with intellectual disabilities, had on his entire family and their legacy.”
Foxcatcher: The True Story of My Brother’s Murder, John du Pont’s Madness, and the Quest for Olympic Gold – Mark Schultz, with David Thomas.
“On January 26, 1996, Dave Schultz, Olympic gold-medal winner and wrestling golden boy, was shot three times by du Pont family heir John E. du Pont at the famed Foxcatcher Farms estate in Pennsylvania. Following the murder there was a tense standoff when du Pont barricaded himself in his home for two days before he was finally captured. How did such a horrifying senseless murder happen?…Mark Schultz takes us through his remarkable wresting career from high school to world and Olympic championships, revealing both the triumphs of his career and the personal and financial struggles that gave him no choice but to join forces with the eccentric, controlling du Pont.”
No Limits: The Will to Succeed – Michael Phelps with Alan Abrahamson
“No Limits goes behind the scenes to explore the hard work, sacrifice, and dedication that catapulted Phelps into the international spotlight. Phelps shares remarkable anecdotes about family, his coach, his passion for the sport, and the wisdom that he has gained from unexpected challenges and obstacles. Highlighting memorable races and valuable lessons from throughout his career, Phelps offers candid insight into the mind and experiences of a world champion. Phelps’s success is imbued with the perspective of overcoming obstacles and doing whatever it takes to realize a dream. As his coach, Bob Bowman, says, Phelps has made a habit out of things other people aren’t willing to do. No Limits will show readers just how he does that, and will inspire anyone to follow their passion straight to the finish line.”
See How She Runs: Marion Jones & the Making of a Champion – by Ron Rapoport
“Ron Rapoport’s biography of the woman the New York Times called “the most prominent track athlete on the planet” is a remarkable profile of a woman not at the end of her athletic career, but at the beginning. It’s the story of a season at the highest level of sport, and the triumphs and tragedies of Jones’s quest to win four gold medals at the 1999 World Championships, the gateway to the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
Her story is also that of an American girl born into a society just beginning to make room for women on its playing fields. She played baseball, basketball. She ran. She grew tall and beautiful and strong. She led he college basketball team to a national championship. But it was running that she loved; she could run faster than anyone.
Rapoport follows Jones from meet to meet during the 1999 outdoor track season, a witness to her domination. With unprecedented access to Jones, her colleagues, family, friends and foes, Rapoport artfully presents the stories of a world-class athlete whose quest began as the dream of a little girl.”
Nazi Games: The Olympics of 1936 – David Clay Large
“The torch relay―that staple of Olympic pageantry―first opened the summer games in 1936 in Berlin. Proposed by the Nazi Propaganda Ministry, the relay was to carry the symbolism of a new Germany across its route through southeastern and central Europe. Soon after the Wehrmacht would march in jackboots over the same terrain.
The Olympic festival was a crucial part of the Nazi regime’s mobilization of power. Nazi Games offers a superb blend of history and sport. The narrative includes a stirring account of the international effort to boycott the games, derailed finally by the American Olympic Committee and the determination of its head, Avery Brundage, to participate. Nazi Games also recounts the dazzling athletic feats of these Olympics, including Jesse Owens’s four gold-medal performances and the marathon victory of Korean runner Kitei Son, the Rising Sun of imperial Japan on his bib.”
“Out of the depths of the Depression comes an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times – the improbable, intimate account of how nine working-class boys from the American West showed the world at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin what true grit really meant. … Brown has created an unforgettable portrait of an era, a celebration of a remarkable achievement, and a chronicle of one extraordinary young man’s personal quest.”
Brazil on the Rise: The Story of a Country Transformed – Larry Rohter
“In this hugely praised narrative, New York Times reporter Larry Rohter takes the reader on a lively trip through Brazil’s history, culture, and booming economy. Going beyond the popular stereotypes of samba, supermodels, and soccer, he shows us a stunning and varied landscape–from breathtaking tropical beaches to the lush and dangerous Amazon rainforest–and how a complex and vibrant people defy definition. He charts Brazil’s amazing jump from a debtor nation to one of the world’s fastest growing economies, unravels the myth of Brazil’s sexually charged culture, and portrays in vivid color the underbelly of impoverished favelas. With Brazil leading the charge of the Latin American decade, this critically acclaimed history is the authoritative guide to understanding its meteoric rise.”
“In 1927, Henry Ford, the richest man in the world, bought a tract of land twice the size of Delaware in the Brazilian Amazon. His intention was to grow rubber, but the project rapidly evolved into a more ambitious bid to export America itself, along with its golf courses, ice-cream shops, bandstands, indoor plumbing, and Model Ts rolling down broad streets.
Fordlandia, as the settlement was called, quickly became the site of an epic clash. On one side was the car magnate, lean, austere, the man who reduced industrial production to its simplest motions; on the other, the Amazon, lush, extravagant, the most complex ecological system on the planet. Ford’s early success in imposing time clocks and square dances on the jungle soon collapsed, as indigenous workers, rejecting his midwestern Puritanism, turned the place into a ribald tropical boomtown. Fordlandia’s eventual demise as a rubber plantation foreshadowed the practices that today are laying waste to the rain forest.
More than a parable of one man’s arrogant attempt to force his will on the natural world, Fordlandia depicts a desperate quest to salvage the bygone America that the Ford factory system did much to dispatch. As Greg Grandin shows in this gripping and mordantly observed history, Ford’s great delusion was not that the Amazon could be tamed but that the forces of capitalism, once released, might yet be contained.”
“As the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games approach, ordinary Brazilians are holding the country’s biggest protest marches in decades. Sports journalist Dave Zirin traveled to Brazil to find out why. In a rollicking read that travels from the favelas of Rio de Janeiro to the fabled Maracanã Stadium, Zirin examines how athletic mega-events turn into neoliberal Trojan horses.”