Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland's History-Making Race Around the World, by Matthew Goodman.
On the morning of November 14, 1889, New York World reporter Nellie Bly set sail for England, aiming to travel around the world in 75 days, just to prove it really could be done. That evening, The Cosmopolitan magazine literary columnist Elizabeth Bisland caught a train for San Francisco, aiming to travel around the world faster than Nellie Bly. Bly had proposed the trip to her editors almost a year earlier, but had only gotten their approval that week; she had three days to get ready. Bisland's editor only came up with the idea of sending her in the opposite direction when he read the World's announcement of Nellie Bly's departure that morning, so Bisland had all of about ten hours to prepare.
I am not sure where I first heard of Nellie Bly, but I've been a fan of hers for years. I read a biography of her some time ago, so I knew about her round-the-world race, and even recognized the name of her competitor Elizabeth Bisland, but a lot of the details were new to me: like the fact that Bisland was shipped off by her editor with less than a day's notice, and Nellie Bly didn't even hear that she had a competitor until she got to Hong Kong, more than halfway home. Fascinating story!