Sunday, February 18, 2018
Books

What's Dan O'Brien reading?

Nightstand

Dan O'Brien

When O'Brien, 45, won the gold medal for the decathlon at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, he was the first American winner in the sport since 1976. O'Brien, who will be inducted into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame in July, grew up in Klamath Falls, Ore., and has worked as a color commentator and guest analyst for ESPN, CBS and NBC. Currently he is working with the U.S. Olympic Committee as part of its Olympic Ambassador Program, mentoring athletes who are on their way to England this summer. O'Brien, whose memoir Clearing Hurdles was released Friday, lives with his wife, Leilani, in Scottsdale, Ariz. He is entering his seventh year as an assistant coach at Arizona State University. We caught up with O'Brien by phone in Anaheim, Calif., where he was going to spend the day with some of this summer's Olympic volleyball players. "As a facilitator for the Ambassador program I help the athletes go through training to understand what life will be like over there. It has to do with media and social media training, living in the Olympic Village and different scenarios they will run into.''

What's on your nightstand?

I read science fiction and fantasy. Right now I'm reading George R.R. Martin's A Dance With Dragons: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book Five. He paints a wonderful picture.

Do you like it as much as his earlier books?

This series has gotten better as it has gone along.

Do you remember an author who kick-started you into reading when you were growing up?

I was not good in school. I especially had a hard time learning how to read. I can honestly say I didn't finish a book until I got into high school. The first book I made it through from start to finish was The Sword of Shannara.

How old were you when you read it?

I was a junior in high school. I went on to read the others in the trilogy and I've continued reading from there. I like to tell kids that are having trouble with reading to get started with something that interests them and also find something that is easy for them to read. Keep plugging through, and there will come a day when you start experiencing the feeling of being sad and depressed when you know the end of the book is near. That's how I felt recently with Hunger Games.

Are you going to write another book?

I'm already planning on it. I've got a couple projects I'm working on right now that have to do with sports psychology for kids. I want to help kids with the way they approach sports at a young age and help give them the tools to approach the game.

When you wrote Clearing Hurdles, did you realize you like memoirs as a genre?

Actually, Andre Agassi's book, Open, was a big inspiration. It helped to read about somebody else's life while I was starting to get into my book.

Piper Castillo, Times staff writer, can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
‘Hello, Universe’ and ‘Wolf in the Snow’ top American Library Association awards for books for young readers

‘Hello, Universe’ and ‘Wolf in the Snow’ top American Library Association awards for books for young readers

The American Library Association announced its 2018 Youth Media Award winners Monday during its midwinter meeting in Denver.The annual awards honor books, video and audio for children and young adults and are highly regarded guides for booksellers, t...
Published: 02/16/18
Review: Paul Goldberg’s ‘The Chateau’ sets sharp political satire in a Florida condo

Review: Paul Goldberg’s ‘The Chateau’ sets sharp political satire in a Florida condo

The election is fraught with wild allegations and vicious character assassination, accusations of corruption and kickbacks, misspelled messages and outrageous debates — and of course the Russians have their hands all over it.The 2016 presidential rac...
Published: 02/16/18

Events: Dr. Steven Masley to discuss ‘Better Brain Solution’ in Tampa

Book TalkRoslyn Franken (Meant to Be: A True Story of Might, Miracles and Triumph of the Human Spirit) will discuss and sign her memoir at 2 p.m. Feb. 22 at Seminole Community Library, St. Petersburg College, Seminole Campus, 9200 113th St. N.Dr. Ste...
Published: 02/15/18
Lauren Doyle Owens’ ‘Other Side of Everything’ a suspenseful look at life and death in suburbia

Lauren Doyle Owens’ ‘Other Side of Everything’ a suspenseful look at life and death in suburbia

Adel Minor dies alone, in her three-bedroom ranch house in a South Florida suburb. It’s the fire people notice first, a column of smoke rising amid the 1960s ranch houses of Seven Springs, but once it’s put out the firefighters find Adel, a widow in ...
Published: 02/14/18
Jeremy McCarter, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s co-author, tells us what he’s reading

Jeremy McCarter, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s co-author, tells us what he’s reading

NightstandJeremy McCarterMcCarter, 41, is the co-author with Lin-Manuel Miranda of the book Hamilton: The Revolution. It was McCarter who introduced Miranda to Oskar Eustis, the artistic director of the Public Theater in New York, and that introducti...
Published: 02/14/18
Review: David Pedreira’s ‘Gunpowder Moon’ a gripping story of murder on the lunar surface

Review: David Pedreira’s ‘Gunpowder Moon’ a gripping story of murder on the lunar surface

Gunpowder Moon drops the reader right into the action — and I do mean drops."Dechert stood at the crater rim and looked down," David Pedreira writes in the opening line of his debut novel. "Dionysius was a monster — two miles deep and wide enough to ...
Published: 02/09/18
Amy Bloom’s ‘White Houses’ explores love between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok

Amy Bloom’s ‘White Houses’ explores love between Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok

Imagine what it would be like to love someone who belongs to the whole world.When we fall in love, we always compete with other people and forces for our beloved’s attention. Amy Bloom’s smart and tender new novel, White Houses, takes us inside the e...
Published: 02/09/18
Crimes and passion: Three very different kinds of love story

Crimes and passion: Three very different kinds of love story

We love lovers’ stories that pit them against all sorts of obstacles, and these new books do just that — whether it’s a young couple struggling with an unthinkable separation, middle-aged lovers whose affair is heightened by religious guilt, or a guy...
Published: 02/09/18
Ryan McIlvain reads for the radical

Ryan McIlvain reads for the radical

NightstandRyan McIlvainMcIlvain, 35, is an English professor at the University of Tampa who received his MFA degree from Rutgers-Newark University and was awarded the Stegner Fellowship in Fiction at Stanford University. In his new novel, The Radi...
Published: 02/08/18
Updated: 02/12/18

Events: Pulitzer winner Wesley Lowery talks about ‘They Can’t Kill Us All’ at USF

Book TalkKeep St. Pete Lit and Friends of the Mirror Lake Library present author Steph Post (Walk in the Fire) discussing and signing her Florida noir novel at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 12 at the library, 280 Fifth St. N, St. Petersburg.Tampa Bay Times staff wr...
Published: 02/08/18