On Your Marks, Get Set, Read!

The Tokyo Olympics kicks off today, Friday July 23rd, adding to what has already been a jam-packed summer of sport - and a welcome reminder of what life was like pre-Covid.

If you're excited about the Games and you want to find out more, or you're looking to get your sporty fix while you wait for your favourite events, then why not check out these great books about the Olympics?

There are books on the history of the Games, and what the original Games were like in ancient Greece. There are first-hand stories from some of our greatest athletes, a book of children's poems, and an off-beat novel about a synchronised swimming team training for their shot at Olympic glory.

Check out our selection below of ten of the best books about the Olympics. You're sure to find something that suits you - or the budding athletes in your family!


1.The History of the Olympic Games: Faster, Higher, Stronger by the International Olympic Committee

Published in association with the International Olympic Committee, The History of the Olympic Games: Faster, Higher, Stronger brings the glorious story of the world's biggest sporting event to life. Featuring hundreds of stunning photographs from every iteration of the modern summer Games, as well as rare documents and memorabilia from the archives of the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, this is a celebration of sporting history like no other. From its humble beginnings under the auspices of Pierre de Coubertin to the modern extravaganza that has showcased legendary athletes such as Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, Jesse Owens and many more, every edition of the Games is rendered here in fascinating detail, alongside rarely seen artworks and artefacts. Revised, updated and in an exciting new format, The History of the Olympic Games: Faster, Higher, Stronger is the definitive illustrated volume on the world's greatest sporting spectacle.


2. Women in Sport: Fifty Fearless Athletes Who played to Win by Rachel Ignotofsky

Women in Sport celebrates the success of the tough, bold and fearless women who paved the way for today's athletes. The sportswomen featured include well-known figures like tennis player Serena Williams and broadcaster Clare Balding, as well as lesser-known pioneers like Gertrude Ederle, the first woman to swim the English Channel, and Keiko Fukuda, the highest-ranked female judoka in history. From the creator of the bestselling Women in Science, this richly illustrated book highlights the achievements and stories of fifty notable sportswomen from the 1800s to today, including trailblazers, Olympians and record-breakers in more than forty sports.

It also contains infographics on topics such as muscle anatomy, pay and media statistics for female athletes, and influential women's teams.


3. The Olympics: A Very Peculiar History by David Arscott

This irreverent and entertaining history explores every aspect of the games, from its origins in ancient Greece to the iconic participants of the past century, like Muhammad Ali and Usain Bolt, as well as the scandals that have rocked the Games and the records set by its participants. It also features a chapter focusing in-depth on the achievements of the 2012 London Olympics and looking forward to the Games in Tokyo.


4. Be Amazing: An Inspiring Guide to Being Your Own Champion by Chris Hoy

In this inspiring and confidence-boosting guide, the cyclist Sir Chris Hoy, six-time Olympic Champion, shows kids that with the right mindset, they have the power to do something extraordinary. As a boy, Chris Hoy never would have believed that he could have achieved his dream of becoming an Olympic Champion. In his first motivational book for children, he shares everything he has learned on his journey to help inspire kids to fulfil their potential and be the best they can be.

The book brings together his incredible personal story with practical ideas for building confidence, resilience and self-belief, as well as dealing with failure. An essential read for any young person with a big dream, this guide shows that anything is possible with a positive attitude!


5. Unbelievable - From my Childhood Dreams to Winning Olympic Gold by Jessica Ennis

On 4 August 2012 Jessica Ennis kicked off what some described as the greatest night in British sporting history. For her it was the end of a long, winding, and sometimes harrowing road. Hers is an inspiring tale of following your dreams no matter what life throws at you.

Unbelievable is a refreshingly candid account of her rise to fame in a highly charged world in which body image issues and drug abuses lurk. From the unique pressures facing her, to behind-the-scenes glimpses into the greatest show on earth, and a revealing account of her love-hate relationship with her long-term coach, Jessica reveals the truth behind the smiles for the first time. Unbelievable includes exclusive behind-the-scenes photos.

This is the story of how an ordinary woman used an extraordinary talent to claim the title of the world's greatest all-round female sports star.


6. Splash by Claire Cashmore

Claire Cashmore, MBE and Paralympic gold medallist, was born without a left forearm - but she never let being different stand in the way of her big dreams. Splash is based on Claire's real-life experience: this gold-medal-winning swimmer really was scared of water...until one day, everything changed!

This picture book for children features a brilliantly bold heroine, who happens to be differently abled, and brims with fun, positivity and Claire Cashmore's inspirational growth mindset message.


7. The Fastest Men on Earth: The Inside Stories of the Olympic Men's 100m Champions by Neil Duncanson and Usain Bolt

With an exclusive foreword by Usain Bolt, The Fastest Men on Earth tells the fascinating inside stories of the Olympic Men's 100m Champions. It takes just under ten seconds to run, but the results of the Olympic men's 100 metres are etched forever into history. In The Fastest Men on Earth, journalist Neil Duncanson tells the stories of the 25 athletes who've been crowned champions in the event, and earned the coveted title of 'Fastest Man on Earth'.

Each chapter explores the fascinating, inspiring, and occasionally tragic lives of these supremely talented sprinters, as well as the intense drama of the record-breaking runs that wrote them into history. Immaculately researched and featuring exclusive interviews with several Olympic champions, including a new conversation with Usain Bolt, The Fastest Men on Earth brings the stories of some of the greatest athletes of all time to life like never before.


8. The Union of Synchronised Swimmers by Cristina Sandhu

It's summer behind the Iron Curtain, and six girls are about to swim their way to the Olympics - and a new life. In an unnamed Soviet state, six girls meet each day to swim. At first, they play, splashing each other and floating languidly on the water's surface.

But soon the game becomes something more. They hone their bodies relentlessly. Their skin shades into bruises.

They barter cigarettes stolen from the factory where they work for swimsuits to stretch over their sunburnt skin. They tear their legs into splits, flick them back and forth, like herons. They force themselves to stop breathing.

When they find themselves representing their country as synchronised swimmers in the Olympics, they seize the chance they have been waiting for to escape and begin new lives. Scattered around the globe, six women live in freedom. But will they ever be able to forget what they left behind?


9. The Ancient Olympic Games by Jhonny Nunez

Travel back in time to Ancient Greece to discover the origins of the Olympic Games. Bright, bold and dynamic artwork bring to life the origins of the Olympic Games. Find out about the legend behind the games, the original events and the excitement that filled Olympia during the Olympic Festival.

See how the competitors used to train and learn about each of the original events that took place, including chariot racing, wrestling, the discuss, javelin and boxing. Get the Olympic buzz from all the excitement of the hippodrome, Olympic ceremonies and celebrations, and learn about the importance of the Heraia - the competition for women organised by women. This book provides a brilliant and striking introduction to the Ancient Olympics for children aged 7+.

10. Olympic Poems: 100% Unofficial! by Brian Moses and Roger Stevens


A brilliant, funny and inspiring collection of poems about sport. These are poems about winning and about taking part; poems about having all the right kit, but no talent; poems that show that coming first in the egg and spoon race really is as important to your mum and dad as being an Olympic athlete; poems about being a team player and poems about being an individual hero. In fact, this book is packed with sporting gems of all kinds. Olympic Poems is perfect for any young poet or aspiring Olympian.


Like what you see? Here’s how to order:

You can order any of the books above from The Book Nook. You can email us at info@booknookshop.co.uk, drop us a social media message or call us on 01920 467 597 during our opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 9:30am to 4:30pm and Sunday 10:30am to 2:30pm.​

​Orders can either be collected during our opening hours or they can be delivered directly to your home (additional postage and packaging charge applies).​

If you’d prefer to browse and shop online, please consider using our affiliate Bookshop.org page or by clicking on the links above to specific titles.​

​Please note, whilst a small percentage of the book sales from Bookshop.org are donated to The Book Nook, we are two independent businesses. The Book Nook are not involved with the ordering or delivery of your Bookshop.org purchase. We’d therefore encourage you to order directly from us where possible!

What Olympic-related book will you read next? Be sure to tell us your favourite picks from this list!​

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