Off Balance by Dominique Moceanu: Truthfully, I didn't know much about Dominique before reading her book. I knew her name just by virtue of her being a pretty central figure in American gymnastics, so finding out what was going on behind the scenes was… pretty harrowing, honestly. I had no idea she was such a tragic figure. It's almost hard to label her "tragic" because of the incredible amount of success she had, but between her borderline-abusive father and very abusive coaches, you have to wonder what else she could've achieved had her circumstances been different. And that's saying nothing of the fact that she discovered she had another sister well into adulthood! Truly, with everything she had to deal with, it's pretty remarkable that she turned out as normal as she is. I have so much respect for her! This book is definitely worth a read!
Focused by Noelle Pikus-Pace: This is such a quick and easy read; you could knock it out in a single afternoon, no problem. Interestingly, I thought that was the book's biggest downfall. Noelle didn't go into much detail about anything, so the whole thing felt like, "I had this problem, and it sucked for a little while, but then I changed my attitude and it was fine!" I'm so inspired by Noelle's perseverance and perpetually happy attitude, so I really wish she'd given more in-depth insight into her struggles and her journey. I mean, she was hit by a bobsled, and condensed that whole experience into a handful of paragraphs. Really? There was also a bit too much religion for my taste; Noelle is really big into her Mormon faith so it wasn't much of a surprise that god played a large role in her retellings, it's just not my cup of tea. Nonetheless, this book is a hit of inspiration and happiness. It's super uplifting and I definitely enjoyed it.
Misty by Misty May-Treanor: This was a perfect book to read right before volleyball season started! I adore Misty, so getting to dig (pun totally intended) into her life a bit more was really cool. This might actually be my favorite athlete autobiography I've read since I started writing these posts. She's incredibly detail-oriented, from the exact menu at her wedding to the exact medical terminology describing some of her injuries, and all of these details makes me feel like I got a really in-depth idea of what her life was like. She didn't hold much back (bikini waxes! Sexual assault! Alcoholism! Kerri Walsh's gold-medal baby!), and some of her writing about her mom's death made me legitimately weepy. I loved learning more about her partnership with Kerri, especially since this book was written in 2010, before they decided to go for a third Olympics together in 2012. The power of hindsight is incredibly cool! Sometimes Misty is a little hard to relate to (she was a legitimate star in four or five sports, and I'm just like "...I did a few push-ups the other day?"), but she's so likable and worked so damn hard that I was okay with it. :)
A Mother for All Seasons by Debbie Phelps: Did you know that Michael Phelps's mom wrote an autobiography? Because I sure didn't. And now that I've read it, I'm still not sure why she wrote it. I probably would've gotten more out of it if I myself were a mom, but I'm not, so any parenting wisdom fell on deaf ears. It wasn't a bad book, per se, but the whole time I was reading I found myself wondering... well, why? She's a regular person writing a book about her life; it's her son that's special. She's also a little naive for my taste. Everything to her was "like a storybook." Literally, everything. It apparently took her until Michael was 19 and committed his first (at the time the book was written, only) DUI for her to realize that everyone, even herself, was human. I mean, those are some serious rose-colored glasses. Wow. So, like I said, it's not a bad book. It kept me entertained and I finished it fairly quickly. But I can't necessarily say I'd recommend it.
Now, let's work on getting part three finished in less time it took for me to get around to part two. ;)