I don’t know about you, but since the Olympics started you can’t pry me away from the TV for anything. I’m camped out in my parents house on vacation, diligently watching everything from the swimming (wow, Michael Phelps, seriously) to the basketball (Redeem Team? Meh, not that cool of a name), to WAY too many hours of women’s beach volleyball even to water polo (can anyone understand what’s going on? They need to bring out the old Fox glowing puck technique from hockey cause I can’t see anything…).
I realized in my viewing fervor as they repeatedly mentioned old greats or referenced Olympic glories or disasters that my own knowledge was limited at best. Sure I remember Barcelona, Atlanta and Athens just fine, I even have my thoughts about Nagano, Lillehammer, Turin and the others (Oslo maybe?). But if I’m going to spend this much of my life on this, I need to educate myself better. Come along:
Owning the Olympics First things first we need to know about this one. After watching the CRAZY opening ceremonies, I want to know more about this Olympics and about China as it appears they’re coming into their own as the world’s superpower. 1.3 billion people and a massive martial arts/explosives presentation with lighting up war drums. Yikes.
Get Talking Chinese This simply couldn’t be a bad idea.
A Century of Olympic Posters This is perfect, I love graphic design and you can tell so much from the promotional material of any event. Besides, is this not a supreme coffee table book?
Triumph No history of the Olympics would be complete without information about Jesse Owens. This particular is written by Jeremy Schaap, who also wrote Cinderella Man, the book that became a movie starring Russell Crowe and Renee Zelweger (directed by Ron Howard I believe). Jeremy is not as sharp as his father, Dick, but I trust that this account will be excellent.
Rome 1960, the Olympics that Changed the World I keep hearing about this book as it’s rather new. I’m inherently reluctant to read something with a decidedly histrionic title, but if this Olympics truly changed the world and I have no idea what happened there, sounds like I had better get reading.
Pre As a runner and lover of athletic lore, there is no better story than that of Steve Prefontaine. He was the first athlete to ever wear Nike shoes (his coach was building them by hand) and he was an all-around running stud that made Oregon into the track powerhouse it has been since. His story is both invigorating and tragic, but totally worth reading.