It’s been a week since World Book Day, and feeling inspired by all things literary, we thought now would be as good a time as any to share some of our own recommended reading.

Below are 10 excellent books all about fitness, sports, and, of course, swimming (disclaimer: there may in fact be a disproportionate number of swimming-related books in the list. Can you blame us?).

We hope you enjoy these titles as much as we do!

Please note that none of the links below are affiliated. We haven’t been paid to advertise the titles listed here, and we don’t receive any money from sales generated through the provided links.


No Limits: The Will to Succeed — Michael Phelps and Alan Abrahamson

Michael Phelps is regarded as one of the greatest swimmers ever, and is the most decorated Olympian of all time, with a total of 28 medals to his name. No Limits is Phelp’s inspiring account of his preparation for the 2008 Olympics and beyond. It’s a motivating advocation of striving for your goals the good old fashioned way: with hard work and determination.


Gold in the Water: The True Story of Ordinary Men and Their Extraordinary Dream of Olympic Glory — P. H. Mullen

This book follows a group of budding California-Based Olympians, chronicling their journey to compete in the 2000 Olympic games. Gold in the Water centres around four swimmers and their coach, and shines a light on the highs and lows of the swimming life. A must read for competitive swimmers!


This Is Me: The Autoopbiography — Ian Thorpe

Much like Michael Phelps, Ian Thorpe is swimmer of legend. His achievements (11 World Championship titles; 10 Commonwealth Games gold medals; 22 world records; and 5 gold, 3 silver, and 1 bronze Olympic medals) are nothing short of extraordinary. This Is Me focusses more on Thorpe’s 2012 comeback as opposed to his early career. But it’s an honest account of the life and struggles (especially those outside the pool) of a world class athlete.


Age Is Just a Number: Achieve Your Dreams at Any Stage in Your Life — Dara Torres

This one’s for anyone who thinks they’re too old. It’s a story of stepping up to the challenge, despite your age and the age of your competitors, and following your dreams. It sends a wonderful and inspiring message for us to continue competing and staying active in older age.


Swimming in Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer — Lynne Cox

You don’t need to be a swimmer to be inspired by this story of unfaltering motivation. By the age of 16, Lynne Cox had broken all records for swimming the English Channel. She then went on to become the first person to swim the Strait of Magellan — and that hardly scratches the surface of her achievements. This is the story of a passionate, determined, and daring individual, and one that should strike a chord with all readers.


Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen — Christopher McDougall

In short, Born to Run is the story of a journalist who sets out to Mexico to discover how Tarahumara Indians can run hundreds of miles without needing rest or injury. But it goes much deeper than that. It’s a fascinating journey into the heart and science of long-distance running.

Non-runners, don’t be skeptical. You don’t need to enter ultra marathons to benefit from these pages. There’s something here for everyone — but who knows, it might just inspire you to dust off those old running shoes!


The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding: The Bible of Bodybuilding, Fully Updated and RevisedArnold Schwarzenegger  (Author), Bill Dobbins

Known as “the bible of bodybuilding” and written by one of the most famous bodybuilders of all time. Not much more needs to be said about this one, except that it’s an invaluable resource for weight trainers of all levels and abilities.

It’s true that this book will naturally appeal more to bodybuilders. But it’s worth noting that it does go into detail about aerobic training for fat loss too, which may be beneficial for exercisers with different goals.


Which Comes First, Cardio or Weights? — Alex Hutchinson

A pop science book all about the science behind exercise. Simplistic, informative, and presented in a Q&A style, Which Come First dispels lots of fitness myths, and calls on reliable scientific evidence to provide information, insight, and advice on all things exercise.


MEN’S HEALTH Power Training: Performance-Based Conditioning for Total body StrengthCSCS Robert dos Remedios MA

Men’s Health is an online fitness juggernaut, and this volume is a brilliant resource for gym enthusiasts. It explores lots of different exercises, detailing how to perform them and their benefits. You’ll also find nutritional information and training session examples.

There’s a strong focus here on building functional strength, as well. Which makes it perfect reading for everyone, from pro athletes to furniture lifters!


Unstoppable: My Life So Far — Maria Sharapova

An honest and inspirational account of Sharapova’s rise to international tennis stardom. It documents everything from her humble Siberian roots to her first Wimbledon win, and everything in-between and beyond.

For tennis players, athletes, fitness enthusiasts, or anyone who simply enjoys an interesting life story, Unstoppable is an absolute must read.


Off the page and into the gym

All these books left you feeling motivated to push your exercise routines to the next level? Then take a look at our 6 Swimming Workouts To Shake Things Up In The Pool. Or, if swimming’s not your thing, try 6 Plyometric Exercises To Turbo-Boost Your Workouts.