Virtual Book Club
THE HAPPY WOMEN
WHY WE SWIM
Book Club Dates are Two Tuesday Afternoons:
Bonnie Tsui, award winning author of A People’s History of Five Neighborhoods with her newest book Why We Swim, will be meeting with the Happy Women Virtual Book Club over Zoom for 2 gatherings and discussion.
Tuesday, May 25 at 5:00 pm PST
First session is a 20 minute Welcome Introduction to the group before we begin reading the book.
Tuesday, June 22 at 5:00 pm PST
Next Session after we have completed the book is one hour.
A Zoom link will be sent to you a few days before each meeting.
Bonnie Tsui reminds us that humankind also once sprang from — and still seeks — water.
Why do we swim? In Why We Swim, Tsui takes us from ponds to pools to surfers, racers and a few who have survived icy currents, seeking the answer in her new book.
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 21st 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, 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 seduces us to water, despite its dangers, and why we come back to it again and again. She offers an immersive, unforgettable, and eye-opening perspective on swimming—and of human behavior itself.
On her interest in swimming:
My family origin story is that my parents met in a swimming pool in Hong Kong. You know, we kind of came from there — as my brother and I like to think about it. And we grew up a swimming family. We grew up at Jones Beach in the pool. Long Island lifeguards. Swim team. And I just always remember feeling more comfortable and happy in the water, actually, than on land. And I do think that that carries over today. I just — that comfort in that, I mean, there's just this sense of magic that you get from being in the water and buoyancy that you just don't have on land.
On swimming during the pandemic:
In the San Francisco Bay Area, the beaches are still open. And so, I've been getting into Ocean Beach early in the mornings. And I actually had what I call a "wrestling session" with the ocean this morning. So I feel much better. ... I swim early in the morning usually. When there is no pandemic, I'm in the pool in the mornings or in the ocean surfing in the open water. So I get the fix of mine early in the morning because I know that will make me a better person for the rest of the day.
I think that there are a lot of us who are longing for the water right now. Specifically, the swimmers who are just, you know, they get their daily tonic. And I know that from talking to a lot of researchers and scientists for this book that the water is a draw for us no matter what.
And so even if you can't get in the water, if you can walk near it, can look at it, can see it ... Just look at imagery. Watch a surf movie. I mean, those things make a difference for our souls and the way our bodies and brains work. Like we respond to those points in the environment — those blue spaces are what we respond to. And even if we can't get in the water right now, the ocean will be waiting for us, the pool will be waiting for us, on the other side of this.