Shelf Life: Aly Raisman

Welcome to Shelf Life,’s books column, in which authors share their most memorable reads. Whether you’re on the hunt for a book to console you, move you profoundly, or make you laugh, consider a recommendation from the writers in our series, who, like you (since you’re here), love books. Perhaps one of their favorite titles will become one of yours, too.

She’s a three-time Olympic gymnastics gold medalist, but Aly Raisman will be the keynote speaker at U.S. Soccer’s SheBelieves Summit on women’s empowerment in Chicago later this month, coming on the heels of the publication of her first children’s book, From My Head to My Toes (Henry Holt Books for Young Readers) on the importance of self-love, consent, and bodily autonomy. Her previous book, the 2018 memoir Fierce, was a NYT bestseller. At the 2018 Espys, she and more than 100 other women took to the stage to accept the Arthur Ashe Courage Award in recognition of their bravery and courage in advocating for systemic change surrounding abuse. Raisman also advocates for mental health and body positivity.

Team captain of the USA Women’s Gymnastics team in 2012 in London, where the Fierce Five won gold, she won an individual bronze on balance beam and became the first American to win gold on floor, for which she danced to “Hava Nagila.” She was captain again in 2016 in Rio de Janiero, when the Final Five won team gold, and Raisman medaled in the all-around competition and floor, winning silvers in each. With 6 medals, she is the third most decorated American gymnast, behind Shannon Miller and friend and former teammate Simone Biles. She retired from the sport in 2020.

The Needham, MA-born and-based Raisman started the sport at age two at a Mommy and Me class (her mom was a gymnast in high school), though she was told she didn’t have the right body type; is a role model for Aerie, with whom she collaborated on an activewear collection to benefit child sexual abuse prevention organization Darkness to Light; has a leotard collection for Sylvia P; a rescue dog named Mylo (who had a playdate with Chris Evans’s rescue, Dodger); is the oldest of 4 kids; was told by Stuart Weitzman not to let Olympics be the highlight of her life; placed 4th on season 16 of “Dancing with the Stars”; appeared in Maroon 5’s video, “Girls Like You”; recently joined ESPN as a gymnastics analyst; and was just named to USA Today’s 2024 Women of the Year. The street she grew up on was renamed Aly Raisman Way.

Likes: gardening, murder mysteries, Grey’s Anatomy; blue light blocking glasses, showering at night, her meditation app, essential oils especially lavender; hot yoga and the Special Olympics; investing.

The book that…

…helped me through a breakup/loss:

The Shift by Tinx. Love how Tinx empowers us to not settle for anything less than we deserve!

…kept me up way too late:

Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner. I love murder mysteries! (SA warning for survivors!)

…made me rethink a long-held belief:

Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel S.F. Heller. I’m always interested in learning more about myself and I love books that challenge me to work on myself.

…I read in one sitting, it was that good:

Black Edge by Sheelah Kolhatkar. This book is jaw-dropping!

…currently sits on my nightstand:

Heart Talk by Cleo Wade. I love this book. It’s an easy read and you can flip open, pick any page & find something inspiring.

…I’d pass on to my kid:

29 Gifts by Cami Walker. I want my kids to learn about the power of being kind and doing things for others. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. I want my kids to be proud to be Jewish & understand how important Jewish history is. Learning about the Holocaust is crucial!

…I’d give to a new graduate:

Why Does the Stock Market Go Up? by Brian Feroldi. I love learning about finance. I think financial literacy is so important. There’s no such thing as a dumb question and we should all feel comfortable asking questions about our finances.

…I’d like turned into a TV show:

This Close to Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith. Beautiful story of love and friendship & how kindness goes such a long way. It shows how making someone feel seen is one of the kindest things we can do. It also shows we are all going through something! You may never know what someone else is struggling with.

…I last bought:

8 Rules of Love by Jay Shetty. I love Jay’s positive attitude & great advice for self improvement and relationships.

…has the best title:

The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post by Allison Pataki. I loved this book.

…has the greatest ending:

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides. The ending shocked me!

…broke my heart:

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave. I still wish the ending was different!

…features a character I love to hate:

Lie to Me by J.T. Ellison. I couldn’t put this book down.

…helped me become a better writer:

Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle. I love Glennon’s style of writing.

…should be on every college syllabus:

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. It horrifies me how many people don’t believe the Holocaust happened or don’t even know what it is. I am proud to be Jewish!

…makes me feel seen:

More Myself: A Journey by Alicia Keys. I admire Alicia, she’s an incredible role model and I want to be friends with her!

…fills me with hope:

Where to Begin by Cleo Wade. I’m a big fan of Cleo’s books!

…I’d want signed by the author:

The Mermaid with No Tail by Jessica Long.

…that holds the recipe to a favorite dish:

The Food Lab by J. Kenji López-Alt. I learned how to cook my best hard-boiled egg.

…. I want to read next:

Finding Me: A Memoir by Viola Davis. My mom read this book and highly recommends. I can’t wait to read.

Bonus question: If I could live in any library or bookstore in the world, it would be:

Beacon Hill Books & Cafe in Boston.

Read Raisman’s Picks:

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