Leanne Shapton Penguin, £12.99
Now a successful artist and illustrator, Leanne Shapton trained to be an Olympic swimmer when she was in her teens, briefly ranking eighth in Canada. Despite giving it up when her parents moved house, she has never shaken off her fascination with water and swimming, and it’s left an indelible mark on her art, as can be seen here in the reproductions of her paintings and a gallery of photos of her swimwear collection. Those “brief, intense” years as a swimmer, and the “quitting” of it, seem to define her, and in this memoir she conjures up memories of how it felt, both physically and emotionally, to devote herself to a goal. These are not rose-tinted reminiscences. The seeds of ambivalence, if not open resentment, were always in her heart, and she remembers the pain and the reluctance to get up for early-morning training sessions, as well as the dedication. It’s a poignant, wistful hymn to a life that might have been.