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Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui

Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui

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A Time Magazine Must-Read Book of 2020
A Best Book of the Year: BuzzFeed * Bustle San Francisco Chronicle * NPR's Book Concierge 

“A fascinating and beautifully written love letter to water. I was enchanted by this book." —Rebecca Skloot, bestselling author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks


An immersive, unforgettable, and eye-opening perspective on swimming—and on human behavior itself.
 
We swim in freezing Arctic waters and piranha-infested rivers to test our limits. We swim for pleasure, for exercise, for healing. But 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, swimming is 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 that seduces us, despite its dangers, and why we come back to it again and again.

Bonnie Tsui is a journalist and longtime contributor to The New York Times. She's the author of AMERICAN CHINATOWN, winner of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature and a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller. Her new book, WHY WE SWIM, was published by Algonquin Books in April 2020; it was a TIME 100 Must-Read Book of 2020, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, a Boston Globe bestseller, an L.A. Times Book Club pick and bestseller, and an Amazon Editors' Pick for Best Nonfiction. Bonnie's first children’s book, SARAH & THE BIG WAVE, about big-wave women surfers, will be published by Henry Holt for Young Readers in May 2021