Ah, the inevitable and dreaded summer reading list ….  Classic novels such as Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird, may have occupied your parent’s summer afternoons, but student-athletes looking for a good read with a focus on sports have no lack of great options.  All USPA student-athletes are encouraged to tuck a book into their gym bag this summer, whether their training takes them to a national training center or to the beach.  Still looking for another book to fill your summer reading bucket list, check out one of the following picks.  We’ve compiled a wide range of selections.  From historical novels to inspiring biographies, there is something for everyone.  Happy summer and happy reading.


TheBoysintheBoatThe Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown
From the depths of the Depression comes this irresistible story of beating the odds and finding hope in desperate times.  From the author of Unbroken, this is the improbable account of how nine middle class young men from the western US became world-class rowers and showed the world at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin the meaning of perseverance and teamwork.




Friday Night Lights: A Town, A Team, And A Dream by H.G. Bissinger
The Odessa Permian Panthers were the winningest high-school football team in Texas history. Based in a town that was both socially and racially divided and with a the fragile economy, the Friday night Permian High School Panthers football games shaped the community of Odessa. This is the story of a Texas town where dreams were possible and of a team that shaped a community.



WilmaWilma Rudolph: A Biography by Maureen Margaret Smith
A wonderful account of the athletic career of track star Wilma Rudolph, who overcame many  struggles to become a world champion. The 20th of 22 children, Wilma contracted polio just before her 5th birthday. By the time she was 12, Wilma no longer needed her steel brace.  At the age of 16, she represented the US at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics where she won a bronze medal.  At the 1960 Rome Olympics, she became the first American woman to earn three gold medals in a single olympiad.



The artThe Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
College baseball player seems Henry Skrimshander seems destined for the big leagues until a routine throw goes off course and changes the fates of five individuals.  More than a baseball novel, The Art of Fielding delves into the themes of ambition and its limits, family and friendship, as well as commitment–to oneself and to others.




What-I-Talk-About-When-I-Talk-About-RunningWhat I Talk About When I Talk about Running by Haruki Murakami
In the early 1980’s Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami began running.  After completing dozens of races, he now reflects on a sport that changed his life.  Writing about the discipline and courage it takes to be a long-distance runner, his favorite topic is the passage of time and its effects on his body and mind. We learn that Murakami was neither a natural novelist or a runner and that he has had to work hard to be good at both.



SportsgeneThe Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance Paperback by David Epstein
Writing about a debate that is as old as physical competition, Epstein asks: Are stars like Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, and Serena Williams genetic freaks put on Earth to dominate their respective sports or are they simply normal people who overcame their biological limits through  training?  In this exploration of athletic success and the so-called 10,000-hour rule, Epstein undertakes and asks us to rethink the nature vs. nurture debate.




monksThe Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei by John Stevens
This book explores and chronicles the history of a niche of human endurance occupied by a group of Buddhist Monks in Japan.  For seven years, in hundred day intervals, these monks demonstrate unimaginable fitness by running one hundred days in a row wearing straw sandals at distances beyond the contemporary marathon.  Over a seven-year training period, these “running buddhas” figuratively circle the globe on foot.  This book describes these amazing men, the mountain on which they train, and the philosophy of Tendai Buddhism.




peerlessfourThe Peerless Four by Victoria Patterson  
More than a sports novel, more than a record of women’s rights, The Peerless Four is a meditation on sacrifice, loyalty, perseverance, and courage.  The book describes the first female Canadian athletes who were allowed to compete in the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics in track and field on a trial basis.  The team included some of the strongest, most diversely talented women at the time.




feedathleteFeed Your Athlete: A Cookbook to Fuel High Performance by Michael Kirtsos and Joseph Ewing
Feed Your Athlete features 150 nourishing whole-food meals and snacks for training, competition, and recovery for both endurance and strength athletes.   Feed Your Athlete makes it simple to devise meals before, during, and after sporting events and training.   The book includes 150 all-natural, real-food recipes for
meals, snacks, portables, sports drinks, and more. Written for endurance and strength athletes, Feed Your Athlete shows how to cook easy meals and take-alongs that taste good.  Just released.



twofeetOn my Own Two Feet by Amy Purdy
In this inspirational memoir,Amy Purdy, the winner of a bronze medal in adaptive snowboarding in the 2014 Paralympic Games, describes her comeback after childhood bacterial meningitis rendered her a double amputee with prosthetic legs. Also a Dancing With the Stars sensation, Amy Purdy reveals the story of how losing her legs led her to find a spiritual life path. Amy’s journey is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the capacity we all have to dream bigger, defy expectations, and rewrite our stories.

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