The Boys in the Boat

The Boys in the BoatThe Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics is a New York Times bestseller by Daniel James Brown that was published in 2013.

Summary

The Boys in the Boat tells the story of the University of Washington’s 8-man rowing team that shocked the world by winning the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

In an age when Americans enjoy dozens of cable sports channels, when professional athletes often command annual salaries in the tens of millions of dollars, and when the entire nation all but shuts down for a virtual national holiday on Super Bowl Sunday, it’s hard to fully appreciate how important the rising prominence of the University of Washington’s crew was to the people of Seattle in 1935.

They were the poor sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers coming into adulthood during the Great Depression. Rowing was thought of as a prestigious sport for upper class boys on the East Coast. Through exhaustive hard work, determination, and team work, the UW rowing team overcame some impressively tough obstacles to become not just American, but world, champions.

The US Olympic rowing team in 1936
The US Olympic rowing team in 1936

Review

I went into this book as someone who knew nothing about rowing, wasn’t a sports person, and preferred fiction to non-fiction. The fact that I really enjoyed this book should tell you something about how compelling The Boys in the Boat is.

It was maddeningly difficult, as if eight man standing on a floating log that threatened to roll over whenever they moved had to hit eight golf balls at exactly the same moment, with exactly the same amount of force, directing the ball to exactly the same point on a green, and doing so over and over, every two or three seconds.

There is so much detail in this story, coming directly from the rowers, their families, diaries, video footage, and other records. Although the book focuses primarily on one rower, Joe Rantz, it also tells about his dysfunctional family, teammates, coaches, the man who crafted the rowing shells, and the time period (the Great Depression, Hitler, the Dust Bowl, etc.).

Even if you don’t think this is the type of book for you, I encourage you to read it.

You might like this book if you like…

  • Rowing (obviously)
  • Pacific Northwest history (1930’s)
  • Rooting for the underdog
  • The rise of Nazi Germany
  • The Great Depression

Book trailer

Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Whoops, a post slipped through my fingers! I finished reading Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple a month ago, but I forgot to publish my post about it. Here it is:

Where'd You Go, BernadetteSince it was released in 2012, Where’d You Go, Bernadette, a novel by Maria Semple, has been getting a lot of attention. A film studio has even already gotten film rights to make it into a movie.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette is an epistolary novel about a wacky architect named Bernadette who goes missing just before a family trip to Antarctica. The story is told from the perspective of Bernadette’s 14-year-old daughter, Bee, and a collection of emails, letters, etc. she acquired. The book takes place in Seattle and Bernadette, a transplant from L.A., can’t stand Seattle and has no problem poking fun at the city.

In one such rant about Seattle, Bernadette complains about the slow drivers,  “athletic do-gooders,” Microsoft, and the locals’ lack of attention to physical appearance. And she says:

Whoever laid out this city never met a four-way intersection they didn’t turn into a five-way intersection.

I have to admit there is some truth to that; there are some pretty bizarre intersections in Seattle. 😛

Bernadette complains about Seattle frequently (though she came to love it in the end), but it was fun to see the local references scattered throughout the book. She mentions things like Beecher’s Cheese, “Go Huskies!”U Village, the Seattle Freeze, and the blackberry bushes that grow like weeds. Bernadette even says “the 405,” which is something Californian transplants are notorious for doing.

While gossipy, self-absorbed, passive-aggressive  private school mothers aren’t really my thing, I enjoyed the novel. It’s not particularly cerebral, but it was an entertaining and easy read.

New Camera: Canon T2i

Union Bay and Cascade Mountains
Union Bay and Cascade Mountains

Nick and I have been without a decent camera for a while now, relying on our cellphones for taking pictures. A couple weeks ago, we decided it was time to invest in an entry-level DSLR camera. After a lot of research, we had it narrowed down to a Canon EOS Rebel T2i and a Nikon D5100. We went back and forth between the two several times (they’re both very comparable) before finally picking the Canon T2i on the advice of our friend, Shaun Pezeshki.

Nick used to be pretty into photography, but I’m only a novice, so I’ve been learning from him, the wonderful world of the Internet, and (of course) experience! We’ve been posting our photos on Flickr: Nick and Marie’s Photostream.

Prior to yesterday’s Tulip Festival photos, Nick and I didn’t have a system* for determining who took which photos, so I’m not entirely sure who took which photos in the Magnuson Park and Arboretum and Kerry Park sets. Nick took all of the Woodland Park Zoo photos because I knew Nick would do a better job taking photos of moving animals (at least until I get more experience). 😛 I’ve included a few of my favorite photos I have taken so far with this post.

Red and Yellow Tulips
Red/Yellow Tulips at the Tulip Festival
Orange Tulips
Orange Tulips at the Tulip Festival

*Our current system is to take a photo of our shoes before we start taking photos lol.

I Moved to Seattle!

Wow! It has been a crazy month and a half!

In the middle of June, Nick was offered a job at the University of Washington Information School as a web developer, which gave us only two weeks to coordinate our move out to Seattle. We somehow managed to do it, though! We’ve been documenting our move on our blog, Wests Go West.

Seattle

Nick and I have been living in our apartment for two weeks now. Nick loves living so close to work. He takes a bus three miles to and from work everyday, which is much better than the 30-mile each way drive we were doing before! The weather has been great. While the rest of the country is suffering from a massive heat wave, temperatures are staying in the 70’s here in Seattle. 🙂 Nick and I have been busy, too! Now that we’re back in Seattle, we’ve been going on adventures and spending a lot of time with friends and family.

I updated my resume earlier this week, so now it’s time for me to start looking for a job!