Tag Archives: Daniel James Brown

Book Club Reflection: The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

14 Dec

My book club met last week to discuss a book I really enjoyed, The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. Happily, most of us enjoyed the book a lot so it was a very positive discussion.

Many commented that the races were well written and easy to follow. The quotes from Pocock at the beginning of each chapter were really great, too, and helped give some context. We gave rowing a lot more credit after reading the book because of the details we learned went into it, even with sports technology where it was in the 30s. Some felt that the narrative got a little detailed at times because of the minutia about the sport, but they were able to push through and still enjoy the story.

Many of us were very impressed with Joe. He went through a lot of trauma with his mother dying when he was so young and how his family left him when he was only ten years old. He was very motivated to attend school so he could get a good job and raise himself up. Many other students were mentioned throughout the book who were in the same situation. He was lucky to have Joyce, who was one of the only constant things in his life and one of the most wonderful things to come into his life.

Rowing is not a big sport in our area. There are some crews on the Detroit River, out of the Belle Isle Yacht Club, but that’s a very exclusive and small set. I know there are big schools in our area with teams. My sister-in-law rowed in college so I’m probably a little more aware of the sport than most. Many readers said they wouldn’t be aware of rowing outside the Olympics.

There was a good historical context in this book as well. The lead-up to WWII was a prominent part and we wondered if the coxswain had revealed his Jewish ancestry if he’d still have been able to compete. A reader recommended the book Olympic Pride, American Prejudice by Deborah Riley Draper about the Black experience at the 36 Olympics, focusing on the runners and Jesse Owens. This book didn’t go into that area much but it’s another big historical marker from the 36 games.

At our meeting, we looked and saw that WU was ranked 2nd nationally in men’s crew. USC was 3rd. I guess the rivalry is still strong.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, 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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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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WWW Wednesday, 25-November-2020

25 Nov

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: This has been a week of no change. I still haven’t opened Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono. I guess it didn’t grab me in the first few pages and I haven’t given it a fair try again since.
I keep moving forward with Knitting Yarns by Ann Hood but I’m not near finishing it yet. If I’m optimistic, next week?
I’ve finished our next section in The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger and we’ll pick up and talk about it again after the holiday. I’m liking it OK so far. I’m not won over, but I’m not disliking it either.
I’m now in a race to finish The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. My book club meets on Monday so I’ll be pushing to finish it this weekend!

Recently finished: I’ve got a better feeling about next week. Fingers are crossed.

Reading next: I honestly can’t wait to start A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger. I’m optimistic I’ll have it started next week. I really want to finish the reading challenge!
I’ll probably need a physical book next. Reading during quarantine has been a great time to get through signed books that I don’t want leaving my house. The next one on my list is the last of my backlog. I guess I’ve got to get to some author events as soon as I can! The book is Golden Glow by Kaitlin Sandeno and Dan D’Addona. I love my swimming books, so I’m pumped to get to this.


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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WWW Wednesday, 18-November-2020

18 Nov

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: Again, no progress with Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono, sorry to say. I hoped to get back to reading during lunch, but I turned to outdoor walks instead which has been lovely and I’m not sure I’ll change it, to be honest.
I got through one or two essays in Knitting Yarns by Ann Hood before putting it aside again to return to my Buddy Read
I’m about through the next section of The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger for my Buddy Read and we meet again tomorrow to talk about it. This is going faster than our past reads, I think because my Buddy is enjoying it so much. I’m not complaining!
I’m enjoying The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown and almost wishing I had a commute to help me enjoy it! Well, I’m not wishing too hard for that.

Recently finished: Nothing this week. I’m optimistic about next week but it honestly doesn’t look that good, either.

Reading next: I’m excited to start A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger so I’m hopeful it will be soon! It’s the last book to finish my challenge, which is making me all the more eager to start it.


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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WWW Wednesday, 11-November-2020

11 Nov

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: I haven’t opened Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono, sorry to say. It’s been a crazy week with the US election going on and I spent my free time refreshing news websites instead of reading this. I hope I can get back to it this week with a winner declared.
I put Knitting Yarns by Ann Hood aside for now. I’ll get back to it soon.
I started my buddy read again! We missed each other a lot during my move and we’re both glad to be reading again. We decided to read The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. I never read this in high school and I’ve been told that’s nearly a reader’s crime. I’m hoping to rectify it soon.
I began a new audiobook for my book club, The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. So far, it’s reminding me of Erik Larson and I’m happy about that!

Recently finished: I was able to finish The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare and even managed to write my review of it already! It posted yesterday so please go check it out and let me know what you think. I gave the book Four out of Five Stars.

I posted my review of Running with a Police Escort by Jill Grunenwald on Thursday of last week. I gave the book Four out of Five Stars. Each time I think about it, I think about going for a run. That’s good, right?
I also got to my review of The Millionaires by Brad Meltzer this week. I’m killing it with reviews! The post went up on Monday so, again, let me know what you think! I gave the book Four out of Five Stars (I’m seeing a trend).

Reading next: It’s got to be A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger next. I can’t wait to get to this one and finish my reading challenge!


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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WWW Wednesday, 4-November-2020

4 Nov

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: I’ve been making steady progress with The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare on audio. Without commuting, I’m getting creative with my listening time and have utilized going to the gym to get a lot in. I should have this book wrapped up next week.
I surprised myself by finishing my ebook! I grabbed Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono for my next read. I like the idea of teaching creative thinking and I wonder if it will help me with writing at all.
I pushed to finish my physical book as well and was able to start Knitting Yarns by Ann Hood on Friday. It’s a nice collection of essays and while it’s not overly gripping, I’m moving forward through it well. With the cooler weather, I’m thinking more about knitting and this has gotten me in the mood for it.

Recently finished: My final push to finish Running with a Police Escort by Jill Grunenwald was successful! Hearing Grunenwald’s story was good for me right now as I feel a drop off in running coming with the winter months. I’ll probably switch to swimming, but her motivation will carry over and I hope I can keep it up. My review for the book will be up tomorrow.
I got caught up in The Millionaires by Brad Meltzer and finished that on Friday as well. It was a good day for me! I was a bit disappointed in the ending which seemed to fall a bit flat, but it was a fun ride along the way. Meltzer is a good place for me to turn when I need a book to pick me up. My review will be up early next week.

Reading next: I still plan to read A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger but it doesn’t look like it will be my next audiobook due to some book club demands.
My book club decided on reading The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. I can’t believe I haven’t read this one yet after all the good press it’s gotten. I’m excited to dive in soon and see what the hype is about.


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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