Long Beach Public Library Foundation

Long Beach Leaders are Readers: Billie Jean King, Long Beach Hometown Hero and Equality Champion

Top leaders of the world have the exceptional simple habit of reading. Whether for enjoyment or enrichment, reading stimulates the mind and fuels creativity. Long Beach Leaders are Readers features leaders in our community as they share their recommended reads.

In honor of Women’s History Month, we are featuring a Long Beach hometown hero, legendary sports icon, philanthropist, New York Times bestselling author, and equality champion Billie Jean King.

Continue reading to learn more about Ms. King’s book recommendation and the leader behind it.

Tennis legend and women's equality activist, Billie Jean King, holding Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye"

The Bluest Eye


Toni Morrison

What made you choose The Bluest Eye as your recommendation?

Some of the best learnings come from books that are tough to read. This is one of those books. In this book, her first novel, Morrison, takes a stark look at racism and a quest for equality and authenticity through the eyes of a young African-American girl in the depression era. We have to remember when it was written and how much things have changed, and how much things can still improve.

What are your favorite genres to read?

I love history. My parents got my brother and me library cards when we were in elementary school so we learned how to use them early. Randy and I loved to read. I really loved bios on people. Just like I love documentaries on streaming and television now. I still like true stories about people – people’s stories inspire me.

What do you hope other readers get from reading your book recommendation?

I had wanted to read this book for years and it took me a while to get to it and it was worth it. It is a heartfelt look at a difficult story. Never give up on a good book. As they say, it’s better late than never.

How old were you when you got your first library card?

I was in Elementary school at Los Cerritos Elementary in Long Beach when I got my first Long Beach Public Library card. 

As a kid I asked if I could use my parents library card and the first library I remember going to was at Los Cerritos elementary school. We also went to Harte Library on W. Willow.  

Reading for free was a privilege which our parents were very clear on. Also having a choice of what we were able to read was also a privilege.

Why do you think reading is important?

Information gives you knowledge and knowledge gives you power.

Finally, if you wrote a memoir, what would the title be?

All In

cover photo of the book all in, written by billie jean kingAll In is an autobiography/memoir and New York Times Bestseller written by Billie Jean King. 

“An inspiring and intimate self-portrait of the champion of equality that encompasses her brilliant tennis career, unwavering activism, and an ongoing commitment to fairness and social justice.” Visit www.PenguinRandomHouse.com for the full overview.


Billie Jean King won 39 Grand Slam titles and 3 World TeamTennis championships, founded the Women’s Sports Foundation and the Women’s Tennis Association and was the first female athlete to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She founded the Billie Jean King Foundation and is part of the ownership groups of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Angel City FC and on the Advisory Board of the Professional Women’s Hockey League. A New York Times bestselling author, her memoir, All In, was released in 2021 and released in paperback in 2023.