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Why We Swim
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Why We Swim


Description

Humans, unlike other animals that are drawn to water, are not natural-born swimmers. We must be taught. Our evolutionary ancestors learned for survival; now in the twenty-first century, we swim in freezing Arctic waters and piranha-infested rivers to test our limits. Swimming is an introspective and silent sport in a chaotic and noisy age; it’s therapeutic for both the mind and body; and it’s an adventurous way to get from point A to point B. It’s also one route to that elusive, ecstatic state of flow. These reasons, among many others, make swimming one of the most popular activities in the world. Why We Swim is propelled by stories of Olympic champions, a Baghdad swim club that meets in Saddam Hussein’s palace pool, modern-day Japanese samurai swimmers, and even an Icelandic fisherman who improbably survives a wintry six-hour swim after a shipwreck. New York Times contributor Bonnie Tsui, a swimmer herself, dives into the deep, from the San Francisco Bay to the South China Sea, investigating what it is about water—despite its dangers—that seduces us, tempting us to come back to it again and again.


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Testimonials


“A beautifully written love letter to water and a fascinating story. I was enchanted.”

Rebecca Skloot, bestselling author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

“The only thing better than reading Bonnie Tsui’s writing about swimming is swimming itself—and both are sublime. Why We Swim is an aquatic tour de force, a captivating story filled with adventure, meditation, and celebration.”

Susan Casey, New York Times bestselling author of The Wave and Voices in the Ocean

“Magnificent. Only a truly great story can hold my attention and Why We Swim had me nailed to the chair. . . I love this book.”

Christopher McDougall, bestselling author of Born to Run and Natural Born Heroes

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About the author


Bonnie Tsui lives, swims, and surfs in the Bay Area. A longtime contributor to the New York Times and California Sunday Magazine, she has been the recipient of the Jane Rainie Opel Young Alumna Award from Harvard University, the Lowell Thomas Gold Award, and a National Press Foundation Fellowship. Her last book, American Chinatown: A People’s History of Five Neighborhoods, won the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature and was a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller and Best of 2009 Notable Bay Area Books selection. Her website is bonnietsui.com.

Reviews

“Tsui’s history of the human relationship with water is compelling and profound, in writing so fluid it mimics the flow of her subject . . . It captivated me from start to finish.”

BuzzFeed, "24 Books We Couldn't Put Down"

“This fascinating look at the positive impact swimming has had on our lives throughout history might leave most readers eager to get back in the water as soon as possible.”

Booklist, starred review

“Drawing on personal experience, history, biology, and social science, the author conveys the appeal of ‘an unflinching giving-over to an element’ and makes a convincing case for broader access to swimming education (372,000 people still drown annually). An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.”

Kirkus Reviews

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