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I loved last summer. As a royalist, I loved all the celebrations around the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. I wasn't hugely excited by the Olympics, but excitement began to build around London and I got caught up. Then it all began - and I was hooked. I was watching online, on the TV, following live text...I couldn't get enough of the magic. And when the Olympics were over, there was even more magic to come with the Paralympics, which astonished us all.
When it was all over, I felt bereft. I had collected some newspapers and magazines during the events, but I wanted more to remember it by. I heard there was to be DVDs of the two competitions, and so I had a look on Amazon - where I discovered there would also be official commemorative books on the games.
I chose two books, one of them being London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games: The Official Commemorative Book. Out of the various books on offer, I felt this was the must-have, covering both competitions on depth.
The book is a large hardback with a lovely dustjacket, and is printed on good quality paper. If I had enough space on my coffeetable, it would make a great display item. But of course I didn't just buy it because it looked good - I wanted to soak up the memories and pictures and be transported back to that special summer.
The Official Commemorative Book takes you through the bid, the planning, the build up to the games, and then of course through the six weeks that the Olympics and Paralympics spanned. I found the sections on the bid and planning quite interesting as I hadn't paid that much attention - when the games were awarded to London I was still living in Aberdeen, so it barely registered. There were some interesting sections on both bid and planning, and it covers the story nicely without getting bogged down in detail.
The coverage of the games themselves is thorough and detailed. The book features full medal listings, and goes through the games day-by-day, highlighting medal winners and special stories. There is good international coverage in here, as while there is a focus on Team GB, there is plenty of coverage on athletes from around the world.
However, while the text is of course very important, the photographic content is what is truly key when you're looking for a keepsake. There are some great shots in here of the epic opening ceremony and London itself, and brilliant stills of the athletes in action which show detail and concentration which were never apparent from the TV coverage. I recognized a lot of the photos from newspaper coverage through the games, but there were plenty which were new to me, and I enjoyed looking through them all and remembering last summer when all of London had a spring in its step.
One point which is worth pointing out, although I must be honest and say this was brought to my attention by a review on Amazon so I can't take credit for it, is that The Official Commemorative Book is less evocative of the mood which prevailed through London than other books have been. This is spot on - although an excellent record of an incredible summer, this is more factual than you would get from newspaper articles.
That said, this is really a very minor point, and that's what my collection of newspapers is for, along with the DVD if I get round to buying it. London 2012 Olympic & Paralympic Games is a beautiful book and a very thorough record of one of the best summers I can remember. London was happy and sunny, and I felt proud to be living here. Now I'm happy to own this book - although I'd rather the games were coming back!