Read Harder: Vol. 7

Jessica Staff Image

Another entry in my continuing adventures with Book Riot’s 2016 Read Harder Challenge

Daniel James Brown’s The Boys in the Boat is perfect for summer road trips and getting excited for the Olympics. And while it didn’t win an Audie award — the annual recognition for the best recorded books and one of the Challenge options — it did win an Earphone Award. And that is good enough for me.

book cover for The Boys in the Boat

In all honestly, the late, great Edward Herrmann‘s narration really is fantastic and adds so much to the fascinating story of the eight-man rowing crew from the University of Washington that took home the gold at Hitler’s 1936 Olympics. At the center of the book are three members of the team: rower Joe Rantz, who joins the team primarily to help pay for his schooling; British boatmaker George Pocock, a rowing prodigy himself; and Al Ulbrickson, the young coach who had taken over just ten years prior from his own mentor. Under the tutelage of Ulbrickson, Rantz makes the freshman boat in 1934. He and his boatmates not only dominate their own JV and varsity teammates, they take on their collegiate rivals from the University of California and eventually beat out east coast powerhouses from Syracuse, Harvard and Yale. Over the next two years, this crew strengthened their bond and their dominance over the field, finally making it to the Olympic trials in the spring of 1936.

Herrmann’s conversational style of narration is perfect fit for this slice of American sports lore — I can’t recommend it enough.

Jess is the Clerical Specialist at the Woods Run branch on the North Side. She’s your girl for YA lit, romance novels and knitting.