An Evening With Daniel James Brown

My husband made a comment to me last night that I needed to start a book club. I responded with a sigh, said I’ve tried that more than once, but I’ll stick to the books that interest me.

“No, you need to start a book club for women older than 60,” he said.

Now, I’ve been described as an “old soul,” but I’ve never thought about what demographic I best fit in with. I guess now I know.

Friday night is date night, and my husband was gracious enough to sacrifice our usual date of dinner and a movie, to attend a local author event. The event was the finale of Pierce County READS 2015, which encourages the county to read the same book. This year was The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown.

I have already blogged about the book, and I’ve already said that if you have yet to read it, you should stop whatever you’re doing and pick it up.

We were surrounded by 1,400 other fans, or family members of fans who had no choice but to come (including the bored teenage girl who sat next to me). Brown gave insight into how his 4 1/2-year research culminated into a New York Times bestseller. He read excerpts that put you in the Husky Clipper with the nine boys as they raced for a national title and a shot at the 1936 Olympics.


Georgia Lomax, executive director of the Pierce County Library System, described it best when she said she first picked up the book and already knew how it ended. But as she read she couldn’t help but worry about the boys. Brown’s narrative sets you in the scene of a time long gone.

The event also included a short video clip of Team USA’s gold medal-winning race. You can’t help but feel emotional watching the finish because as a reader you know about the adversity the boys went through leading up to Berlin. You even know what was going on in the boat during the race thanks to Brown’s insight.

Brown said The Boys is more than a book about rowing, but that it’s also about us and where we come from. We read about the Pacific Northwest small towns after the stock market crash, during the depression and pre-World War II.

The event wasn’t enough to encourage my husband to pick up the book, but he did say he would watch the movie. I’m already looking forward to that date night.


What I’m Reading Wednesday

imgresEveryone has a story. And being the curious one that I am, I’m always asking people about theirs.

With that being said, The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant, is the perfect book for me. It’s someone simply telling their story, from beginning to nearly the end.

Addie Baum is the Boston Girl, born in 1900 to immigrant parents. But the story starts in 1985 when Addie’s grand-daughter asks her “How did you get to be the woman you are today?”

Readers learn the building blocks of Addie’s life of growing up in Boston, holding onto every bit of education while trying to avoid child labor. She goes through more than one tragedy, happy experiences and major accomplishments, my favorite of which is her experience working for a newspaper as a twenty-something.

Each experience, each person she meets along the way create Addie’s tale, and the story helps readers gain the appreciation that every story is worth being told.

A thank you goes out to my step-mom, who picked up this book for me!

What would you say if someone asked you,”how did you get to be the person you are today?”

What I’m Reading Wednesday

TheBoysintheBoatSometimes I come across a book I wish would never end. And sometimes the story is so compelling, I wish it were a true story. I found both traits in Daniel James Brown’s The Boys in the Boat.

Based on the University of Washington rowing team and their quest for Olympic gold in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, The Boys is more than a sports biography. It’s a compelling narrative that goes beyond surface descriptions of the nine Americans who made up the boat. It delves into the almost unimaginable personal tales of the boys who endured the Great Depression, and at times insurmountable odds, to be a part of something historical.

I tend to favor the fiction genre, but when I come across a work of non-fiction such as The Boys, I am always in awe at the amount of research the author did to obtain the historical and personal nuggets of their subject. Brown takes you inside the mind of the boys, on board their shell, the Husky Clipper, battling fatigue, rough waters and competition. This book became one of my favorites before I even reached the Author’s Notes.

I can see why Pierce County Library System selected The Boys for the 2015 Pierce County READS (one-community, one-book program). I only wish I hadn’t waited so long after hearing so many positive reviews before giving it a chance myself.

Even if you’re not a fan of sports, the personal stories alone are enough to pull in a reader. Brown weaves the story of the boys, the coaches, and the historical WWII German figures in his book.

I knew how the story would end. But yet, I could not wait to be in that boat with the boys in Germany. To see how they battled through an epic race, joined together as brothers, to bring home the gold.

Every four years during the Olympics I am often weepy watching high-caliber athletes reach the very top of their sport, often times overcoming crazy odds. This was no exception.

Thank you, Mr. Brown, for breathing such life into the boat’s story, and sharing it with the state and the world. This Washington State University graduate admits a Husky pride.