10 Canadian books to read to get into the Olympic spirit

If you're inspired by the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, check out one of these great books!

If you're inspired by the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, check out one of these great Canadian books!

The Olympics are taking place July 23-Aug. 8 and the Paralympics are taking place Aug. 24-Sept. 5. You can see a complete schedule of events here.

My Mother's Daughter by Perdita Felicien

My Mother's Daughter is a memoir by Canadian Olympian Perdita Felicien. (Martin Brown, Doubleday Canada)

Perdita Felicien's mom Catherine was a poor young woman in St. Lucia when she was given a seemingly random, but ultimately life-changing, opportunity: to come to Canada with a wealthy white family and become their nanny. But when she gets to Canada, life is tougher than she expected, as she endures poverty, domestic violence and even homelessness. However, she still encouraged and supported her youngest daughter's athletic dreams. Felicien would go on to be a world-class hurdler and one of Canada's greatest track athletes. My Mother's Daughter is the story of these two women, and how their love for each other got them through difficult times and changed their lives.

Perdita Felicien was a 10-time national champion, a two-time Olympian and became the first Canadian woman to win a gold medal at a world championships. She now works as a sports broadcaster and is part of CBC's team covering the Olympics. My Mother's Daughter is her first book.

Perdita Felicien draws strength from the hurdles her mother faced

2 years ago
Duration 9:13
Perdita Felicien is one of Canada’s most decorated female track athletes, but her memoir focuses on the hurdles her mother faced and how that became her inspiration.

The Bone Cage by Angie Abdou

The Bone Cage is a novel by Angie Abdou. (NeWest Press, Arsenal Pulp Press)

The Bone Cage is a novel that takes readers deep into the gruelling, often solitary world of amateur sport. It follows the fortunes of two athletes: a wrestler and a swimmer, both vying for a place on the Canadian Olympic team.

The Bone Cage was a contender for Canada Reads 2011, when it was defended by Georges Laraque.

Angie Abdou the author of several books, including the novel In Case I Go and nonfiction book Home Ice. She is a professor at Athabasca University.

Shelagh Rogers talks to Canada Reads author Angie Abdou.

Girl Runner by Carrie Snyder

Carrie Snyder is the author of Girl Runner (Nancy Forde, House of Anansi Press)

Girl Runner tells the story of Aganetha Smart, a former Olympic athlete who was famous in the 1920s, but now, at age 104, lives in a nursing home, alone and forgotten. When her quiet life is disturbed by the unexpected arrival of two young strangers, Aganetha begins to reflect on her childhood in rural Ontario and her struggles to make an independent life in the city.

Girl Runner was a finalist for the 2014 Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize.

Carrie Snyder is a fiction, nonfiction and children's book author. Her other books include the short story collections The Juliet Stories and Hair Hat. She is from Hamilton, Ont.

Forever Terry: A Legacy in Letters

Forever Terry: A Legacy in Letters is a book commemorating Terry Fox, edited by his younger brother, Darrell Fox. Darrell, far right, is pictured with his brother during Terry's Marathon of Hope. (Viking, Submitted by Darrell Fox)

Forever Terry: A Legacy in Letters celebrates the 40th anniversary of Terry Fox's Marathon of Hope. In 1980, Terry Fox captured Canada's imagination when he embarked on a run across Canada to raise money for cancer. The 21-year-old from Port Coquitlam, B.C., had lost part of his right leg to cancer when he was 18. He ran a marathon every day and made it as far as Thunder Bay, Ont., before the cancer spread to his lungs and he had to stop.

The book features 40 letters by 40 prominent Canadians, reflecting on Terry Fox's life and legacy. The book was edited by Terry Fox's younger brother, Darrell Fox.

Contributors include hockey player Bobby Orr, actor Shawn Ashmore, Olympian Perdita Felicien, writer Margaret Atwood, basketball star Steve Nash, singer Jann Arden and athlete and activist Rick Hansen. A portion of the book's proceeds will go to the Terry Fox Foundation to support cancer research.

Terry Fox and the Marathon of Hope 40 years later

3 years ago
Duration 7:33
Forty years after Terry Fox ran his Marathon of Hope, an Olympian, Paralympian and one of his brothers look back on his accomplishments and his legacy. Darrell Fox has edited a new book of letters about his brother’s inspiration, dedication, and perseverance.

The Illegal by Lawrence Hill

Lawrence Hill is the author of the Canada Reads–winning novel The Illegal. (HarperCollins)

The Illegal examines the plight of refugees who risk everything to start over in a country that doesn't want them. After his father is killed, runner Keita Ali flees his homeland to a country known as Freedom State, where his presence is illegal and he must go underground to survive. 

The Illegal won Canada Reads 2016. The book was defended by Olympian Clara Hughes. 

Lawrence Hill is the author of several books, including the novel The Book of NegroesThe Book of Negroes won Canada Reads in 2009 and was adapted into a six-part miniseries for CBC. He is also the author of Black Berry, Sweet Juice and Blood. He lives in Hamilton, Ont.

Canada Reads: Clara Hughes and Lawrence Hill

7 years ago
Duration 4:35
The Illegal's celebrity champion and its author talk to CBC's Deana Sumanac about the 2016 Canada Reads winner.

Open Heart, Open Mind by Clara Hughes

Clara Hughes is a Canadian cyclist and speed skater who has won multiple Olympic medals in both sports. (Canadian Press, Touchstone)

A six-time Olympic medalist, Clara Hughes was the first athlete ever to win multiple medals in both summer and winter games. But there's another story behind her celebrated career as an athlete — a long battle with substance abuse and depression. She shares this story in her memoir Open Heart, Open Mind.

Hughes is a cyclist, speed skater, author and humanitarian. She is the only Canadian athlete to win multiple medals at both the summer and winter Olympic Games. Open Heart, Open Mind is her first book.

Clara Hughes recalls her 1996 Atlanta Olympic debut

3 years ago
Duration 4:08
The 6x Olympic medallist breaks down her first Games as the rookie on one of Canada's most iconic teams.

Swimming Studies by Leanne Shapton

Swimming Studies is a book by Leanne Shapton. (Robbie Lawrence, Riverhead Books)

Swimming Studies is a collection of autobiographical sketches that explore the worlds of competitive and recreational swimming. Leanne Shapton contemplates how sport has shaped her life, from her training for the Olympic trials as a teenager to meditative swims in pools and oceans as an adult. Her stories are told in both writing pieces and illustrations.

Shapton is an artist and author of several books, including Guestbook: Ghost Stories and Women in Clothes. She is also the co-founder of J&L Books, a publisher of art and photography books. She lives in New York City.

Reclaiming Tom Longboat by Janice Forsyth

Reclaiming Tom Longboat is a book by Janice Forsyth. (ZG Stories, University of Regina Press)

Reclaiming Tom Longboat looks at the history of Indigenous sport in Canada, using the Tom Longboat Awards as a guide. The Tom Longboat Awards annually recognize Indigenous athletes and their contributions to sport in Canada. Reclaiming Tom Longboat tells this story, alongside assessing how Canadian governmental practices and policy have shaped Indigenous relations, and Indigenous sports throughout history.

Janice Forsyth is an associate professor of sociology and the director of First Nations Studies at Western University. She is also the co-editor of Aboriginal Peoples and Sport in Canada

The hurdles Indigenous athletes face chasing Olympic dreams

2 years ago
Duration 6:34
A lack of access to elite sports, and issues with racism, are some of the hurdles facing Indigenous athletes when they chase their Olympic dreams. Previous Olympians are working to help remove those barriers. [Correction: The locator at the beginning of this story should read Siksika First Nation, Alberta]

The 4-year Olympian by Jeremiah Brown

The 4-year Olympian is a book by Jeremiah Brown. (Dundurn Press, The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick)

The 4-year Olympian is a story of courage, perseverance and overcoming self-doubt. After nearly being incarcerated and becoming a father at 19, Jeremiah Brown manages to grow up into a responsible young adult. But he has one more goal — to become an Olympian.

Jeremiah Brown won an Olympic silver medal as a member of the Canadian men's eight rowing team at the London 2012 Olympic Games. He lives in Peterborough, Ont.

Rower's path to silver

11 years ago
Duration 6:10
Jeremiah Brown, a rower on Canada's medal-winning men's eight team, talks to CBC's Heather Hiscox in Trafalgar Square.

The Greatest Athlete (You've Never Heard Of) by Mark Hebscher

The Greatest Athlete (You've Never Heard Of) is about 1900 Olympic gold medallist George Orton. (University of Pennsylvania/Wikimedia Commons, public domain/Dundurn Press)

George Washington Orton, paralyzed as a child and told he would never walk again, was the greatest distance runner of his generation, a world-class hockey player and a brilliant scholar — yet he is virtually unknown in Canada. Mark Hebscher tells his story in this book.

Mark Hebscher is a sports broadcaster and journalist who lives in Toronto. The Greatest Athlete (You've Never Heard Of) is his first book.

Olympic Games Replay: Top Canadian Moments at the Summer Olympics

2 years ago
Duration 1:33:13
Watch some of the biggest events involving athletes wearing the Maple Leaf at past Summer Games.

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