14 August 2008

Gold Medal Reading

You, um, may have noticed that the Olympics are going on right now, so that’s the genesis of this week’s question, in two parts:

First: Do you or have you ever read books about the Olympics? About sports in general? Fictional ones? Or non-fiction? Or both?

And, Second: Do you consider yourself a sports fan? Because, of course, if you’re a rabid fan and read about sports constantly, there’s a logic there; if you hate sports and never read anything sports-related, that, too … but you don’t have to love sports to enjoy a good sports story.

(Or a good sports movie, for that matter. Feel free to expand this into a discussion about “Friday Night Lights” or “The Natural” or whatever…)

(For the record, I am not a sports fan at all, but I’ll watch almost any Olympics event, have indeed read books about the Olympics–and strongly recommend
The Second Mark, which yes, is about Figure Skating, but was a fantastic story and particularly enthralling in its view into life as an athlete in China, so no sneering at the sport, okay? The book was fascinating. I’ve also read a history of the 1896 Olympics (there’s also a good mini-series which just came out on DVD).

The only book I have read that almost fits into this category is Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The Making and Breaking of Elite Gymnasts and Figure Skaters, by Joan Ryan. It is about the training, expense (monetary and physical), and obsession of some parents, coaches, and young girls who want to become Olympic-level gymnasts and figure skaters. I remember that I picked it up at the library after someone in a book group that I belonged to, who was an adult figure skater, mentioned it at one of our meetings. It was disturbing, amazing, eye-opening, and a real page turner, I have to say!

As far as books about sports in general, I have read a lot of books about horse racing (factual or fiction), and one or two fictionalized stories about baseball. I'm not one to pick up a book only because it deals with sports some way or another.

Am I a sports fan? Yep. Not a fair-weather fan, but also not such a rabid fan that I will dye my hair or paint my skin to match team colors. I get annoyed at the monetary aspects of sports that often seem to drive things, but will admit that most of the time, I pay attention anyway.

Oh, and I love "Friday Night Lights" - the TV show that is. I haven't read the book, for some reason I think it would just annoy me. Go figure.


SmilingSally said...

You've read more than I have.

Come see my answer.

jlshall said...

All our friends back home in Texas keep telling us we should watch "Friday Night Lights." But so far, we've avoided it. Too much like a return to high school, I think. But the book is supposed to be very good.

Anonymous said...

Not a sports fan, although I am/was a fan of Dick Francis books. Normally, I watch the Olympics, but as one who has had a Save Tibet sticker on my car for the last 15 years, I am boycotting them this year. I went to sporting events in high school because I had lots of school spirit, but that was it.

Anonymous said...

David Maraniss' book on the 1960 Rome Games is exceptional; other than that, I'd never thought about Olympics books. Interesting question!

Mr Puffy's Knitting Blog: said...

Other than what you expect me to mention (Hoosiers; Rudy) I loved the movie Ice Castles with Robbie Benson. It's just touching.

Anonymous said...

you know that courntey peldon was in a tv movie of the week called "little girls in boxes" and it was about the cutthroat world of competitive gymnastics,,,

Anonymous said...

I thought that FNL would be awful but it's actually pretty addicting.

The Making & Breaking of Elite Gymnasts.... sounds like an eye opening page turner! I'm not much for sports books either.