Every four years, hundreds of thousands of people come together from around the world to cheer for their countries as they compete at the Summer Olympics. Like many events, this year’s iconic international sporting competition was also affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and consequently postponed until 2021 (July 23–August 8). In the 124-year history of the Olympic Games, this is the fourth time that they have been postponed; once prior in World War I and twice during World War II.
Although we will have to wait another 12 months to watch The Games of the XXXII Olympiad unfold in Tokyo, we can still share in the highs and lows of the Olympic Games through the stories written in books. We created this reading list that explores the ultimate tests of athletic ability, dedication, strength and unity since the Olympics’ inception:
by Chris Cleave
Gold is the story of Kate and Zoe, world-class athletes who have been friends and rivals since their first day of elite training. In the ultimate test of a mothers’ love, Kate’s eight-year-old daughter is battling a recurrence of childhood leukemia just as she is about to compete for her last chance at an Olympic gold medal. How can she do what is right for her daughter without abandoning all of her dreams?
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
by Daniel James Brown
The #1 New York Times bestselling story about American Olympic triumph in Nazi Germany and the inspiration behind PBS documentary The Boys of ‘36. Out of the depths of the Great Depression comes an irresistible story about beating the odds and finding hope in the most desperate of times. The Boys in the Boat is the dramatic tale of the American rowing team that stunned the world at Hitler’s 1936 Berlin Olympics.
For the Glory
by Duncan Hamilton
Many people will remember Eric Liddell as the Olympic gold medalist from the Academy Award-winning film Chariots of Fire. Famously, Liddell would not run on Sunday because of his strict observance of the Christian sabbath and so he did not compete in his signature event, the 100 meters, at the 1924 Paris Olympics. For the Glory is a story of athletic heroism and faith in the darkest of circumstances.
Just Don’t Fall: A Hilariously True Story of Childhood, Cancer, Amputation, Romantic Yearning, Truth and Olympic Greatness
by Josh Sundquist
Just Don’t Fall is the astounding story of Paralympian Josh Sundquist and his heroic struggle through numerous hospitalizations to become an award-winning skier (Italy 2006) and renowned motivational speaker. When he was just 9-years-old, Sundquist was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a virulent cancer strain that eventually claimed his left leg.
The Three-Year Swim Club: The Untold Story of Maui’s Sugar Ditch Kids and Their Quest for Olympic Glory
by Julie Checkoway
The New York Times bestselling inspirational story of impoverished Japanese-American children in Maui who transformed themselves into world-class swimmers in the 1930s. The malnourished children, who trained in irrigation ditches, outraced Olympic athletes twice their size, made headlines and broke world records. With the dawning of a world war and the cancellation of the Games, they would still go on to become the 20th century’s most celebrated heroes.
by Mark Schultz
A New York Times bestseller and riveting true story of Olympic wrestling gold medalist brothers, Mark Schultz and Dave Schultz, and their fatal relationship with the eccentric John du Pont. On January 26, 1996, Shultz was shot three times at Foxcatcher Farms estate in Pennsylvania. After a tense standoff, du Pont became the wealthiest convicted murderer of all time. Shultz’s memoir is now an Oscar-nominated motion picture.
Fire on the Track: Betty Robinson and the Triumph of the Early Olympic Women
by Roseanne Montillo
Fire on the Track is the inspiring true story of the women who broke barriers and finish-line ribbons in pursuit of Olympic gold at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam. Against the backdrop of the Great Depression, Montillo traces the fascinating story of American high-school student Betty Robinson, who became an Olympic track and field trailblazer, and the fastest woman in the world.