The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown-Book Club

Wow! What a week. Power was out for two days and no internet or TV for three. I was forced to unplug and, in a way, it was a nice break. But alas, we are up and running and back online as usual. This week on the blog, book club was back in business. And by business I’m talking more about wine and cheese than the book, but if you are interested in the book here’s what I can tell you.

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown is a best seller and came highly recommended, yet book club gave it a unanimous thumbs down. To be honest, no one actually read it in its entirety. Most didn’t read it at all and I skimmed the majority just to get to the end.

The Synposis (a brief excerpt from Goodreads)

Daniel James Brown’s robust book tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans. The sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, the boys defeated elite rivals first from eastern and British universities and finally the German crew rowing for Adolf Hitler in the Olympic games in Berlin, 1936.

The Review

We simply were not the right club for this book. As I see it, if you are passionate about the sport of rowing, you may like this book. If you are a history buff, you may enjoy this book. If you’re curious about Seattle, WA, this book may be for you.

Otherwise, like me, you may struggle to get into it. Deep, deep within the pages of excruciating and often unnecessary detail, that didn’t move the story forward, there was a decent story. I didn’t come to appreciate this until chapter twelve.

To me, this felt like a case of indulgent writing where the author couldn’t help but include every bit of minutia uncovered in the book’s creation.

There was so much backstory to every account that it struck me as all over the place. It jumped from the teamwork of a rowing crew to Nazi Germany to boxing, filmmaking, lumberjacking, boat making and more. Not to mention the compelling family dynamic of the main character which was lost among everything else.

I’m all for descriptive, colorful, even flowery writing, but I’m afraid this just went way overboard – no pun intended.

If you truly enjoyed this book, please forgive my lack of appreciation. I don’t discount it for the massive research that must have gone into its making. There were also occasions of truly deft writing, however just much too much of all of it.

Despite my struggle to reach the end of this book, I’m glad I got there. That’s the challenge of book club – to push through stories that aren’t to my taste, but have value none-the-less.

If not for this book, I may not have been inspired to check out the Head of the Charles for the first time. So much fun!


Head of the Charles

crew boat in Charles river


If not for our book club meeting, I wouldn’t have had the chance to cozy up to this lovely lady. Isn’t she sweet?


Lily and her friends


Did you read The Boys in the Boat? What did you think?

Next Up

Since bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand is visiting our area in December, book club has decided to give her Winter series a read. Options include Winter Street, Winter Stroll or Winter Storms. I can probably get through all three quicker than I did The Boys in the Boat.

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6 years ago

I listened to the Boys in the Boat and loved it. Maybe it was the narrators calm, yet authoritative voice that drew me in. He’s also the narrator of Unbroken, another book I loved. Give the audiobook a try if you are thinking about reading this book. As for the Elin Hildebrand…I’ve read the entire Winter Street series and enjoyed it. A good holiday read.

6 years ago

Lily is lovely, but what about Oscar?