The summer of sport is officially in full swing. First came the Euros – where football walked up the drive, knocked on the door, but ultimately decided against coming home; before the Olympic Games caught the imagination with two weeks of truly thrilling competition. And with the Paralympics right round the corner, we still have many more days of furiously debating the intricacies of the taekwondo point-scoring system ahead of us.
Whether you’ve been contentedly watching the action from the sofa or Usain Bolting it around your local carpark, how about getting into the spirit of this summer’s sporting showdowns by taking some inspiration from the athletic exploits contained in our books?
And with skateboarding, BMX, and bouldering all new to the Games this year, we might even be able to get a sneak-peak of the next sport for Paris 2024 in the pages of our books. Olympic ballroom dancing, anyone?
Running for My Life – Rachel Ann Cullen (Blink Publishing)
The heartfelt and inspirational story of one woman’s marathon journey through mental illness, Running for My Life is a testament to the transformative power of sport. Weighed down by grind of the rat race and her bipolar disorder, Rachel Cullen chose to slip on a pair of battered trainers and head out on a run each day, rain or shine. Racking up the miles hurt, but it helped her heal too, as she found some solace one long stride at a time.
One Enchanted Evening – Anton Du Beke (Zaffre)
The first novel from Strictly legend (and newly announced judge for the upcoming series) Anton Du Beke is sure to inspire readers to shimmy, shake, and take to the dancefloor – even those of us cursed with two left feet. Set in the grand surrounds of the Buckingham Hotel, Raymond de Guise and his troupe of ballroom dancers rub shoulders with royalty and foxtrot with film stars. It’s a 10 from us. Book yourself a Zumba class and watch out for the latest instalment in the series, We’ll Meet Again, publishing this winter.
Simone Biles: Going for Gold (Ultimate Sports Heroes) – Charlotte Browne (Dino Books)
Where precocious talent meets imagination and remarkable resilience, the trailblazing Simone Biles is a once-in-a-generation talent – and has the gold medals to back it up. In Tokyo, she showed the courage to put her mental well-being first, breaking the stigma and setting an example for the sporting world for years to come. Part of a series that also shines a light on the likes of Team GB icons Dina Asher-Smith and Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Ultimate Sports Heroes will introduce children to a champion. Don’t be surprised if they start attempting to cartwheel around the living room after reading.
How to be an F1 Driver – Jenson Button (Blink Publishing)
A chance to get a look under the bonnet of a speed demon. Recounting his breakneck journey from rural Somerset to Silverstone, Button reveals his rules for making it to the very top and provides an insight into the mentality of a Formula One champion. How to be an F1 Driver will put readers on the starting grid of Button’s incredible journey. A bestseller that will surely get you racing to your local go-karting track – or, even better, speeding around on the dodgems this summer.
Cyborg Cat – Ade Adepitan. Illustrated by Carl Pearce (Piccadilly Press)
When Ade makes the move from Nigeria to London, he enters a new school filled with unfamiliar and often unfriendly faces. But he’s soon surprising his classmates (and the bullies) with his serious football skills and the small matter of his superhero alter-ego Cyborg Cat! Whether on the football pitch or when he joins the wheelchair basketball team, sport provides a sense of community for Ade and all the Parsons Road Gang. An accessible and utterly joyful series about fitting in, showing courage, and showcasing your talents from Paralympian and broadcaster Ade Adepitan.
Cave Diver – Jake Avila (Zaffre)
How’s this for a book to get the heart thumping? The winner of the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize, Cave Diver follows acclaimed explorer Rob Nash as he leads an expedition in the jungles of Papua – venturing into the deep end to retrieve the treasure lurking on a submarine long-buried in a cavern. While we can’t guarantee you’ll find gold on Britain’s seabed, Jake Avila’s thriller might just convince you to get your goggles on and brave the waves like a daredevil Tom Daley. Take a deep breath and dive on in…
Flying Fergus – Chris Hoy and Joanna Nadin. Illustrated by Clare Elsom (Piccadilly Press)
A knight of the realm and one of Britain’s most successful Olympians, Sir Chris Hoy traded in the peloton for the pen, teaming up with the award-winning Joanna Nadin to write the fantastic Flying Fergus series. The books follow the adventures of Fergus Hamilton and his cycling team Hercules’ Hopefuls. Careering from the racetrack to the fantasy realm of Nevermore, you can expect fierce competition, breathless thrills, and more turns than Laura Kenny’s bike pedals.
Right, Said Fred – Freddie Flintoff (Blink Publishing)
Cricket isn’t an Olympic sport yet, but with baseball joining the party this summer, it’s surely only a matter of time until we see the likes of Virat Kohli and Jofra Archer going for gold. With almost 4000 test runs, over 200 wickets, and a couple of Ashes victories under his belt, Freddie Flintoff certainly knows a thing or two about sporting success. Right, Said Fred offers the chance to get inside the brain of a true original and a pioneer of his sport – even if that brain is often just pondering what to do with his coveted Toby Carvery Gold Card.