Check it out: Book fuels flames for fan of Summer Olympics



Ask me to watch a football game, and I’ll try to suppress a yawn. Tell me the NBA finals are a must-watch on television, well, sorry, I might miss “Jeopardy” and “Wheel of Fortune.” But remind me that the Summer Olympics are less than three weeks away? I’m your gal!

As you might have surmised, most athletic events are not a cause for celebration in my little universe, but the Olympics — oh, man — now that’s an entirely different game. For one thing, they don’t take place every year, which gives them a certain mystique. Then there’s the ceremonial pomp and circumstance at the beginning and end of the Games. Plus, athletes train for years to for a chance to get a spot on a team, knowing that if they don’t, it will be four more years before they can try again. And I haven’t even mentioned the medals!

When the Summer Games officially open on July 27, it’s easy to think that catching daily highlights of the popular swimming, track and field, and gymnastics events means you’re following the Olympics. But if you would like to be a bit more savvy about lesser-known sports, such as the hammer throw, canoe slalom, women’s sabre, and badminton, get your hands on “How to Watch the Olympics” by David Goldblatt. Not only will you learn mounds of information about each event, you’ll also receive a painless overview of the opening and closing ceremonies. I say “painless” because let’s face it, sometimes the ceremonies are very cool, and sometimes they’re real patience-testers. But Goldblatt helps the reader to understand why certain Olympic traditions started and why we have to sit through “… mime artistes and creatures from the black lagoon …” as he so wittily describes the ceremonies.

I can hardly wait for the athletes to begin parading around the track and for the Olympic flame to be lit, so the competition can begin.

In the meantime, I’ll boost my Olympics IQ by reading about archery and which country is favored to win, athletics (the official term used for the track and field events), and why releasing doves before the Olympic flame was lit at the 1988 Seoul Summer Games turned out to be a really bad idea.

Jan Johnston is the Collection Development Coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email: She blogs at