July/August 2012 -- a year of Summer Olympics. I am mesmerized in front of the TV as I watch the athletes compete, using their bodies in seemingly impossible ways to achieve the coveted medals. "The ecstasy of victory; the agony of defeat"; the Games seem to epitomize the truth of this maxim. Actually, every competitor is already a "victor"; an Olympian who has gone through the stringent qualifying process. And yet there are tears and heads hung low even amid the smiles and high fives.
The Games have been around for a long time -- no one knows for sure when the first ones were held, but the earliest recorded Olympic competition was held in 776 BC. It had only one event -- the "one-stade" (approximately 630 foot) race, which was won by a cook named Coreobus. From such humble beginnings, we now see the wondrous spectacle presented each four years. When Rome conquered Greece in the 100s BC, the Olympics began to decline and in AD 394, the Roman Emperor Theodocius I, a Christian who considered the Games a pagan festival, ordered them stopped.
The modern games are said to have started up about 117 years ago, in 1896. Since that time, only three Olympic Games have been cancelled, and in each case it was due to a World War (1916, 1940, 1944).
The history of these games is totally fascinating, filled with wonderful, colorful characters. In our Library is a Chronicle of the Olympics - a comprehensive chronology of the first 100 years. A look at this will revive many famous names; Jessie Owens (an African-American man who won medals in the heart of Hitler's Third Reich), Edwin Moses, Carl Lewis, Tommie Smith and John Carlos (who shocked the world with the Human Rights Salute on the Podium in 1968), Nadia Comenice and Bart Conner (who found romance in gymnastics), Greg Louganis (diver extraordinaire) and many others. There are also biographies of Florence Griffith Joyner, Kerri Strug, and today's hero, Michael Phelps. Many of these are shelved in the Junior Reading Section to encourage the interest of young people, but you are welcome to browse and check out any of them. There are also several picture books celebrating the Games and their participants. I am sure your time will be well spent by a "journey through history" and these marvelous games.
The featured authors for August are Joanne Fluke, who writes fun mysteries involving food, and Joy Fielding, an author of light fiction for summer reading.
Many new titles have been added to the collection, including (but not limited to): "The Soldier's Wife" by Joanne Trollope, "Friends Forever" by Danielle Steele, "The Last Boyfriend" by Nora Roberts, "The Shoemaker's Wife" by Adriana Trigiani, and the latest titles from James Patterson, Dean Koontz, and Iris Johansen. We also have a wonderful biography/memoir by Mark Shriver about his father, Sargent Shriver, entitled "A Good Man: Rediscovering My Father."
Thanks to a library patron, we now have the latest book, "One Breath Away" by the author with an Alta connection, Heather Gudenkauf. I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but judging by her previous books, it will be great.
Check out the movie section. We now have "Hachi, a Dog's Tale"; "Sesame Street, a Musical Celebration; Big Miracle"; "The Artist"; and "Mirror, Mirror" as new additions.
Happy Olympics watching and reading, and to overcome any withdrawal you may experience, there are a wealth of choices awaiting you in your Alta Library.