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Greenwich Reads Together — 'The Boys in the Boat'

The fourth annual, community-based book reading program will focus on 'The Boys in the Boat.'

Greenwich Library Board of Trustees President Haley Rockwell Elmlinger and First Selectman Peter Tesei reveal the 2014 GRT selection. Contributed photo.
Greenwich Library Board of Trustees President Haley Rockwell Elmlinger and First Selectman Peter Tesei reveal the 2014 GRT selection. Contributed photo.

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown has been chosen for Greenwich Reads Together 2014.

The title was announced last week at Greenwich Library in a ceremony attended by more than 40 community members. Three thematically related companion books for younger readers were also announced. Greenwich Reads Together (GRT) is a community-wide reading experience which will engage all of Greenwich in exploring a single book.

The Boys in the Boat is the story behind one man’s personal quest, and the triumph of his team, the University of Washington rowing crew, that stunned the world at Hitler’s Olympics.

Gordon Adam, Chuck Day, Don Hume, George “Shorty” Hunt, Jim “Stub” McMillin, Bob Moch, Roger Morris, Joe Rantz, John White Jr. — these were the boys in the boat, the University of Washington’s 1936 crew, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans in the depths of the Depression. 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.

At the emotional heart of the story is Joe Rantz, a teenager without family or prospects, who rows not for glory, but to regain his shattered self-regard and to find a place he can call home. The crew is assembled by an enigmatic coach and mentored by a visionary, eccentric British boat builder, but it is their trust in one another that makes them a victorious team. They remind the country of what can be done when everyone, quite literally, pulls together—a perfect melding of trust, determination, and optimism.

Drawing on the boys’ own diaries and journals, their photos and memories of a once-in-a-lifetime shared dream, The Boys in the Boat is a portrait of an era, a celebration of a historic achievement, and a chronicle of one extraordinary young man’s personal quest. 

Three companion books for younger readers were also announced: Outcasts United by Patch Editor-in-Chief Warren St. John (adult and YA versions), A Strong Right Arm by Michelle Y. Green and Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman by Kathleen Krull.

More than 45 suggestions were submitted by the community covering a wide range of titles and genres, reviewed by the selection committee of Roy Brayton, Joan Eaton, Stephen Schmidt, and Robin Terzi; and community members Susan Boyar, a book group moderator; Amy Fleishman; Joan Slattery, Middle & Upper School Librarian at Greenwich Academy's Jean and David W. Wallace Library. 

“Reading one book together helps to foster communication and spark ideas,” said Barbara Ormerod-Glynn, Greenwich Library Director. “Greenwich Reads Together will bring together thousands of people of all ages and backgrounds to compare views and interpretations; share feelings and personal stories; view exhibitions, movies, and performances; attend classes and panel discussions, as well as workshops--all inspired by a common reading experience,” said Ormerod-Glynn.

Greenwich Reads Together will take place between Oct. 14 and 30. Copies are available to borrow at Greenwich Library and may be purchased at local bookstores including Diane’s Books.

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