Archive | December, 2020

Book Review: The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown (5/5)

3 Dec

I was excited when my book club picked this one. I’ve heard a lot about it over the years and it sounded like one I’d like a lot. When it came down to the wire and if I’d finish it or not in time for my book club, I wished it was a little shorter. But I loved every minute of it.

Cover image via Amazon

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

Summary from Amazon:

It was an unlikely quest from the start. With a team composed of the sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the University of Washington’s eight-oar crew team was never expected to defeat the elite teams of the East Coast and Great Britain, yet they did, going on to shock the world by defeating the German team rowing for Adolf Hitler. The emotional heart of the tale lies with Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not only to regain his shattered self-regard but also to find a real place for himself in the world. Drawing on the boys’ own journals and vivid memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, Brown has created an unforgettable portrait of an era, a celebration of a remarkable achievement, and a chronicle of one extraordinary young man’s personal quest.

As an atelete, I love stories about athletic achievement, even if it’s in a sport I don’t practice. I enjoyed reading about rowing, a sport I don’t know much about. I was able to find parallels to swimming and triathlon that helped me understand what the men were going through. I loved the details about setbacks and races, things that many sports have in common. I think a lot of the themes in this book were universal for sports and I enjoyed it a lot.

Joe was a great focus character for this book. Not only did he have to overcome the physical challenges of being an elite athlete, he had to overcome socioeconomic barriers to get to where he was. I was fascinated by the descriptions of how he reacted to the teasing his teammates gave him and how he overcame the poverty he was faced with. Every time I was shocked at the way his father and step-mother left him alone, I had to remind myself that this was a different time and a boy of his age had different ways to fend for himself that a boy today wouldn’t have. I was amazed at the resourcefulness of Joe and also jealous that he could raise enough money for a year of college in the summer!

Joyce was a favorite character of mine. I always enjoyed when she’d come up. She was such a genuine and caring person. She was brave to stick with Joe while he was going through so much and her support helped him stay motivated. I was impressed by how she moved to Seattle and worked to be near Joe. I was glad to hear she graduated herself. The way she interacted with Joe’s siblings was very sweet and made me realize she was going to be a good partner for someone with a heart as big as Joe.

I related a lot to the training side of this story. I was a competitive swimmer for 8 years and I’ve been doing triathlon for the past six years. Early mornings and sore muscles are part of my life as well so I could understand the grueling training regimines the boys were going through.

Daniel James Brown
Image via Amazon

The descriptions of the races were incredible in this book. I loved that a race could be an entire chapter. There are so many little moments that make up a race and it was great to hear it all given it’s due.

There wasn’t a part of this book I disliked. I thought it was all relevant and all came together to tell the story of the team and how hard they had to fight and how much they labored to get to where they were. I found it inspiring.

The audiobook was narrated by Edward Herrmann and I thought he did a wonderful job. He gave weight to the heavy moments and was lighthearted during happy times. He didn’t try to do voices which I thought was best for a nonfiction book like this. I see he’s done some Stegner novels as well so I might have to check him out again.

The boys from Washington were underdogs and everyone loves an underdog story. Their win was the result of a shift in Washington that prioritized rowing and made them believe they could do what many thought was impossible. They proved that Western rowers could be dominant and that the small state of Washington should be on the map. It’s crazy  now to think of Seattle as a small town with a small school.

Writer’s Takeaway: I enjoyed the back-and-forth that Brown had with the boys in Washington and developments in Berlin. It would have been difficult to read the story of the Olympics and not think about Berlin on the brink of WWII. Hearing about the propaganda and playacting that the Nazis did to prepare for a stage made it fascinating to hear about these boys going to Germany and seeing what they did. It helps you understand why people didn’t believe the stories coming out of Germany and why the world was slow to react to Hitler. It was a great balance for the book.

A really enjoyable read for those who like history or athletics. Five out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Related Posts: 
The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown | Bob’s Books 
The Boys on the Boat, by Daniel James Brown | Reading on the Run 
Daniel James Brown, “The Boys on the Boat” | Book Group of One 
Daniel James Brown – The Boys on the Boat | Don’t Need a Diagram 

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WWW Wednesday, 2-December-2020

2 Dec

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: Is anyone surprised I haven’t touched Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono? Because I’m not. As the weather gets nasty, maybe I’ll stay in and read during my lunch breaks.
My buddy and I meet tomorrow to talk about The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger so I’ll be pushing forward with this one again soon!
I started Golden Glow by Kaitlin Sandeno and Dan D’Addona over the weekend. Too early to say so far what I think, but I love a good sports biography so I’m just excited to be back to the topic.
I’ve finally started A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger! This is a long audiobook and I know I’m in for the long haul so I’m strapping down, determined to finish this during December to complete my reading challenge.

Recently finished: I finished Knitting Yarns by Ann Hood over the weekend and even had time to review it. My review was posted yesterday. I gave the book Three out of Five Stars.
I finished The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown just in time! It was a bit of a race but I was ready for our book club discussion on Monday. I’ll likely post a review and a book club reflection next week or soon after.

Reading next: It’s hard to say. Maybe it’s best that I don’t? I don’t have a plan and with me being so early in my books, it’s hard to predict what I’ll want to pick up next. I’ll stay quiet here this week.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

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Challenge Update, November 2020

1 Dec

This month was slow. It wasn’t until I went to write this post that I realize how slow it was. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page. I’m also starting a monthly mailing list. You can sign up at the bottom of this post.

Books finished in November:

The Witch of Blackbird Pond // Elizabeth George Speare (4/5)
Knitting Yarns // Ann Hood (3/5)

And that’s it. Yikes. At least I’m caught up on reviews?

When Are You Reading? Challenge

11/12
I’m going to hold on to the win that I finished one more book for this challenge. I’ve got a plan in place to finish it up, I just have to execute. I see the end in sight!

Goodreads Challenge

55/55
Again, the silver lining to a slow month. This was just enough to get me through my annual reading challenge and I’m so glad to have finished!

Book of the Month

Not much of a choice this month, huh? I’m going to pick The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. It was a quick and fun read and I think it would be perfect for middle school audiences to read and learn about early America.

Added to my TBR

I’m back up again at 47 books. I don’t remember adding so many but I took so few off that it’s no wonder I’m not moving fast.

  • Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline. I can’t be the only one who’s pumped for this book to come out, right? I can’t wait to read this one and I’m hoping Cline’s kept his page-turning pacing because it’s my favorite.
  • Malorie by Josh Malerman. I went to a virtual author event with Malerman and loved every second of it. It convinced me to add his new book to my list so I can revisit the terrifying world of Bird Box.
  • Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui. With my love for the water, is it any wonder I added this? I saw the book on the Goodreads 2020 polls and added it right away.
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. This is an upcoming book club selection that I’m getting excited about.
  • The Rebel Wife by Taylor M. Polites. I read an essay by this author that I really enjoyed and decided to give his fiction a try as well.

How are your challenges going so far? I hope you’re closing in on the end of a successful year. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, give my challenge a try next year and join the fun.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Sign Up for Monthly Newsletters

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.