Reading can count as cardio — really. Not only do books give your brain a good workout, but some can also get your heart pumping and muscles firing. And since it takes creativity to stay fit while socially distancing, why not add page count to your step count?
As a novelist, I’m always interested in stories about women that history has overlooked, and the world of sports is full of them. A few years ago, my fourth-grader was working on a biography project and picked Gertrude Ederle, the first woman to swim the English Channel. While I helped my daughter research Ederle’s life, the scope of this woman’s contribution to society dawned on me — the progress women athletes were making in sports like swimming, tennis, and running mirrored broader efforts by feminists to achieve more political and economic power across society.
Inspired by Ederle, I started digging around in history and found Betty Robinson, Helen Stephens, and Louise Stokes and knew that these three largely overlooked Olympic track stars of the 1930s would be the inspiration for my next novel, Fast Girls, because their dramatic stories of perseverance, friendship, and second chances are about so much more than running. So, even if you prefer kettle corn over kettlebells, you’ll find ways to relate to these athletes because at the core of every great sports story is a human story.
The following reading suggestions all feature superstar women athletes and cover everything from fiction to memoir to history, so slide off your running shoes, dive onto the couch, and prepare to be inspired.