The YA Olympics

Zoe N. | August 12, 2016 | Discussion

In honor of the Olympics this month, I’ve put together a list of YA novels that feature characters who play an Olympic sport and / or are aspiring Olympians.

Gymnastics

Bonus: Lessons in Falling by Diana Gallagher, which is set to be published February 7th, 2017, also features a protagonist who is a gymnast.

Swimming

Diving

Track & Field

Have you ever read any books that feature Olympic sports or Olympic hopefuls?

76 comments

  1. I read quite a few sports books when I was younger. I remember one about diving in particular, and some swimmers. Honestly, the olympics make me feel so unaccomplished. As a former gymnast, (the olympic gymnasts are all so inspiring omg) those sound particularly interesting 🙂

    1. OMG YES. I was reading an article the other day about an Olympic diver who trained for the Olympics while in medical school (?!?) and it made me feel so unaccomplished. Glad they sound interesting!

  2. YESSSSSSS to this post! Very original, and very topical! I know I’m loving watching the swimming in the Olympics~ To be honest, I’ve never heard of any of these books…so I’ve now got some new books to add to my collection right? 😀

    1. Thank you so much! I’m glad you enjoyed it! 🙂 It’s so hard to find YA sports books, let alone good ones, but hopefully this list is a good place to start. 🙂

  3. What a cool list! I don’t usually read too many sports books, but your list has me intrigued, especially since I’ve been glued to my TV all week watching the Olympics 🙂

    1. I’m not usually much of a sports book reader either (probably because I don’t have an athletic bone in my body haha), but I’ve had pretty good luck with the ones I have read. 🙂

  4. I have only read Goldfish of this lot!! And it’s weird because in Australia it’s been published as Girl Out of Water?! Like whyyy do publishers change titles between countries omg it’s so confusing. I would like to read more about gymnastics though!! I think they’re amazing to watch (says she who is about as flexible and agile as a potato).

    1. I know right! It’s so confusing when publishers change the titles. 🙁

      And, being a gymnast myself, I’m always on the hunt for gymnastics books. I’ll let you know if I find any more. 😉

  5. I have read Goldfish and Tumbling, and enjoyed both (though the former more than the latter!). I NEED to read A Matter of Heart, but I also need to check out a few of these other ones- especially Anything but Ordinary, as I have enjoyed Lara’s other books! Pretty curious about In Deep too, because well, SWIMMING!

  6. Ooh thanks for pulling this list together Zo! I don’t think I’ve actually read anything Olympics related (or even sports related) in a while so I can’t even make a good recommendation ha! I’m more of a fantasy reader, so if you need to know about fighting the bad guys, I’m your gal 😛

    1. You are so welcome Joy! 🙂 And haha…I’ll definitely send you a message if I need some fantasy recommendations. 🙂

  7. Fun post! I can’t think of any books I’ve read with olympic sports. I guess I don’t read a ton of sporty books anyway. I would love to read one of the books dealing with gymnastics though!

    -Lauren

    1. Thank you so much Lauren! 🙂 It really is difficult to find sport-centered books. Let me know if you end up trying any of these!

  8. This is a great post! I don’t generally gravitate towards books with a focus on sports (not sure why, just happened that way), but now I have a list to start with if I ever want to. Tumbling, in particular, has been in my sights for a bit. 🙂

  9. Ohh this is such a fantastic post, so original, and the Olympics made me think that I don’t read enough books with main characters doing sport -or at least to this level, and aspiring to do big things with their passion. I need to do that more, and your list might just come in handy for that! A Matter of Hearts sounds especially good, adding that one to my TBR right now! thank you so much! 🙂

  10. What an interesting post! I barely ever read anything with sports in it because somehow it doesn’t exist in fantasy worlds?! I really should read more about sports, hehe! The only book I can remember being about sports was about dancing, except it was only mentioned and there was barely any actual dancing! (It’s We Awaken by Calista Lynne, by the way. Really enjoyed it but it should’ve had more dancing now I think about it!)

    1. Thank you so much Ayla! <3 And I'll definitely have to give It’s We Awaken a try – thanks for the recommendation. 🙂

  11. I don’t read many sports books so this list is great for me to get into some. These books look really interesting and I love watching gymnastics. There are some sport movies but sport driven books are really difficult to find. Thanks for the list!!!

  12. I don’t actually read that many books about sports (because it isn’t my favourite) but the one that comes to mind is On The Fence by Kasie West. I think that one featured some type of football in it? Thanks for sharing Zoe!

  13. Now that I think about it… I’m pretty sure I never read a book featuring olympic sports, or really any kind of sports.
    While I do exercise, I was never particulary fond of sports so maybe that’s why ‘^^
    Still. If I’ll ever find a book featuring sports that I’m interested in reading… I’ll be sure to give it a try (:

  14. I’ve never read any of these, or heard of a lot of them. I can’t really think of any books I’ve read with an Olympic sport in them either. I read a lot of fantasy, so no olympics there, and not a lot of books have a focus on sports. I wish more did though. I think it would be cool to read a book from the POV of a teenage Olympian, because that would be cool! 🙂

    1. They’re definitely really rare and hard to find. xD It would be really cool to read from the POV of a teenage Olympian – I agree. 🙂

  15. I’m not a sporty person, so I never read books about sports, but I should change that because I’m sure they’re wonderful! And it’s not like I have to do the sport! I’m just reading about it! lol
    ~Sara

  16. Oh my gosh this is such a fun and creative tag! I do like reading books with sports in them but they aren’t too common. The only one I can remember right now is STREAMLINE which was about swimming.

  17. Aww Zoe, this is such a cute post! I read A Matter of Heart and I really admire the main character’s determination to swim 😀 Thank you for sharing all these lovely books! I’m now interested to read some of them, since I don’t often encounter sports in YA books.

  18. This post is such a great idea, Zoe! Because of the Olympics, I was looking for books dealing with sports for a change, so now I’ll have some ideas when I want to read some. I read books about ballet but… It’s not in the Olympics. It’s still a sport though, but it’s more considered as art I guess? Anyway, I need to check out some of these books! 🙂

  19. I haven’t read any of these books, which is crazy! I did recently pick up You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott which is about a teenage gymnast who is an Olympic hopeful, but the story is told from her mother’s perspective so it’s not quite YA. Still, thanks for all these great recs, Zoe! 🙂

  20. Great list, Zoe! I can’t think off hand, but I know I’ve read quite a few YA books featuring runners! Ha. And a couple of swimmers, I think. Those seem to be the most popular.

  21. This is such a cool and unique post! I don’t think I have read any of these books but I definitely want to check out some of the gymnastics ones. I used to do it as a kid but even then I couldn’t understand how people could move their bodies like that… Awesome post, Zoe!

  22. The only book I’ve read from your list is Goldfish! Which I absolutely loved! Some other books I can think of off the top of my head is Girl Against the Universe (Tennis), and…there was another but I can’t think of it at the moment hahah!

  23. I love this post idea! It’s so cute. Of these, I’ve read The Flip Side, The Running Dream, and Letters to Nowhere. I’m planning on reading Diana Gallagher’s debut when it comes out 😀 Thanks for compiling this list! Hopefully, there’ll be more for the Winter Olympics in the future 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by The Silver Words!

  24. I’ve never actually read a book with an Olympic sport before. There are books I’ve read with characters who were swimmers or gymnasts, but it’s never a main part of the book. With the Olympics having just happened, I really want to read a book with an Olympic sport though. Great list!

    1. I completely agree! Some characters mention that they’re swimmers / gymnasts / etc, but we never really see that in action. Which is another reason why I love these books so much. 😉 Thank you!

  25. I keep seeing Tumbling everywhere and I LOVE that cover, it’s gorgeous. I don’t often read sports-based books so it’s fun to see this list. I think we need more fantasy sports books, maybe an HP Quidditch spin-off if JK is so inclined haha

  26. Nice to read this list. I havent read many (actually thinking, I wonder if I have read any) books on sports, so this list has opened my eyes to many books related to it

  27. Goldfish (or Girl Out Of Water in Australia) was so adorable, really enjoyed that one too Zoe. There seems to be a lot of contemporaries surrounding supports that have been released earlier this year hasn’t there. Miranda Kenneally comes to mind when featuring sports in YA, but one of my favourites was First & Then. Even not knowing a thing about US football, I still loved it. Awesome post Zoe, going to check a few of these out. Looking for a few new reads out of the ordinary <3

    1. I’ve heard a lot of great things about Goldfish so I am so glad you enjoyed it Kelly! And I love Miranda’s books as well. 🙂 Thank you! <3

  28. I have never read any of those books, I like the look of those gymnast ones… I used to really like that, but then I got old and lazy, and now just like to read books about it…. not that I am very old or lazy, but I do do a lot more reading or sitting at a computer than running around!

  29. Aha, this is class! I don’t tend to read books on sports, but the covers are pretty fab from these novels, so I may have to give a couple a go! (Goldfish looks super interesting!)

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Thank you so much! 🙂 I am so glad you enjoyed it. Definitely let me know what you think if you end up giving them a go. 🙂

  30. ooh this post is really olympic appropriate and original! I haven’t read any of these books, sport + me = no go. But does the book thief counts? rudy loves to run after all 😀

    1. Haha I’m the same – I’m not athletic to save my life. And OMG – I didn’t even think of the Book Thief but you are so right! xD

  31. Very interesting list! You must have spent a lot of time and effort on this! I applaud you *claps*

    But real talk, I love the cover for Goldfish. It just looks cool. All the little fishies!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

    -Kayl @ Kayl’s Krazy Obsession

  32. Oh wow I haven’t read any of these yet. I don’t read a lot of sporty books… not sure why, but I did read a book about fencing called Of Pens and Swords. It has such a pretty cover but the story was good but not one of my favourites. Clever topic to tie in with current events.

  33. You know, I have never read a book where the character wants to be an olympian! Which actually makes me want to, because I can only imagine how much work they would have to put in to be accepted, and also how high stakes the competition would be! I’d actually really like to read one of those gymnastic books you mentioned because I LOVE watching the gymnastics when the olympics are on 😀

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