Contact: Dawn Dietrich, director of Western Washington University’s Western Reads program, at Western.Reads@wwu.edu
BELLINGHAM – Western Washington University has selected Daniel James Brown’s book “The Boys in the Boat” as the Western Reads book for the 2014-2015 academic year.
Western Reads is Western’s campus-wide reading program designed to promote intellectual engagement and civil discourse among members of the campus community.
All new freshman and transfer students will receive a complimentary copy of “The Boys in the Boat” at orientation and will be invited to participate in a variety of Western Reads activities during the academic year, including discussions, faculty presentations and guest lectures.
In this moving and insightful book, Brown tells the emotionally charged story of the eight-oar crew team from the University of Washington that beat the odds and won gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
Brown shares the moving story of working-class boys who came from the state’s “foggy coastal villages, damp dairy farms, and smoky lumber towns" and mastered the art of rowing and work together and to become Olympic champions.
Joe Rantz, the central character and emotional heart of the book, is a young man who knows that a seat in the boat, and the camaraderie and commitment of the other boys, is his best chance of remaining in college. In the depths of the Great Depression and looming rise of Nazi Germany, nine young men changed the world of rowing and captured the hearts of the nation.
The Western Reads selection committee is comprised of faculty, staff and students from across campus. Criteria for selecting the book include issues of concern to students, accessibility, and possibilities for interdisciplinary conversation and opportunities for students to reflect on their own lives as learners. The Whatcom Reads program has also selected Brown’s book for the coming year and the two programs will work together on programming and events.
Previous years’ Westerns Reads books include: “Early Warming: Crisis and Response in the Climate Changed North,” by Nancy Lord; “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” by Rebecca Skloot; “The Young and the Digital,” by S. Craig Watkins; “Omnivore’s Dilemma,” by Michael Pollan; “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” by Mark Haddon; “Persepolis,” by Marjane Satrapi; “Honky” by Dalton Conley, and “The Battle Over the Meaning of Everything” by Gordy Slack.
Western Reads is sponsored by Western’s Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education – Senior Vice President, and Vice President for Enrollments and Student Services and by New Student Services/Family Outreach.