Posted in Books, Exploring, Quotes, Spirit, TLC Book Tour, Writing

Book review: Dryland: One Woman’s Swim to Sobriety

I drink the way I used to swim: all or nothing. Truthfully, “nothing” was never an option. It was always “all.”

~ Nancy Stearns Bercaw

As regular visitors to my blog know, I occasionally do book reviews for TLC Book Tours.  The publisher sends me a free copy and in exchange I read and review the book.  I seem to be on a memoir roll lately which is surprising because there was a time when I would have said I don’t really like reading memoirs.  Well, it turns out that’s not true.

Dryland was a fast read (it took me about 2-3 days from start to finish and I’m a slow reader these days because it’s hard to find time for it), interesting, and I enjoyed the writer’s style and sense of humor.  (It would be easy to leave it that, wouldn’t it?)  There were parts of the book I easily related to because I, too, am a former athlete (gymnast) who also made it to the Junior Olympics and felt a little lost without the hours spent in the sport, the training, and the competitions when I quit at my peak.

Nancy Stearns Bercaw

I get out of the car and walk onto a campus full of people who’ve most likely never taken a sip of alcohol in their lifetimes.  Stepping through the security gate, I put all thoughts of drinking behind me.  I smile at the notion that, from this day forward, my relationship with alcohol will exist only in the past.  And everything else that happens is my present.

~ Nancy Bercaw

Dryland truly was an interesting read about Nancy Bercaw’s journey in life and through various parts of the world.  The book begins with Ms. Bercaw living with her husband and son in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, where you need to have a personal alcohol license to purchase alcohol.  It is there that she begins to think about how much alcohol she is consuming and what effect that is having on her life.  Throughout the story, we are moved back and forth through time (from childhood and her athletic years as a swimmer who qualified for the 1988 Olympic Trials in the fifty-meter freestyle event) and through Nancy’s journeys around the world and into the life of alcohol addiction.  And what an amazing journey she’s had!  I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Nancy in this jaunt around the world and through her life, and cheered her on as she began to take a good look at her life and see what needed to be changed.

I will leave you with the official information about the book.  Thank you so much for stopping by today.  Be good, be kind, be loving.  Just Be.  🙂  (And for those looking for the Forty Early Mornings post, I did meet the challenge this morning and I’ll be back to posting about that tomorrow.)


About Dryland

• Paperback: 256 pages
• Publisher: Grand Harbor Press (April 18, 2017)

For swimming champion Nancy Stearns Bercaw, the pool was a natural habitat. But on land, she could never shake the feeling of being a fish out of water. Starting at age two, Nancy devoted her life to swimming, even qualifying for the 1988 Olympic Trials in the fifty-meter freestyle event. But when she hung up her cap and goggles after college, she was confronted with a different kind of challenge: learning who she was out of the lanes.

In this honest, intimate memoir, Nancy reflects on her years wandering the globe, where tragic events and a lost sense of self escalate her dependence on booze. Thirty-three years after her first sip of alcohol, the swimmer comes to a stunning realization while living with her husband and son in Abu Dhabi—she’s drowning in the desert. Nancy looks to the Bedouin people for the strength to conquer one final opponent: alcohol addiction.


“A brave, honest, adventurous memoir that keeps you turning pages as Bercaw travels around the world and rediscovers what it really means to win…at life.” —Leigh Newman, author of Still Points North

Purchase Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million

About Nancy Stearns Bercaw

Writer and national champion swimmer Nancy Stearns Bercaw is a seventeen-time NCAA All-American athlete and was inducted into the University of South Florida’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009. Her writing has appeared in publications around the world, including the New York Times, the Huffington Post, the Korea HeraldU.S. News & World Report, Abu Dhabi’s Tempo magazine, and In addition to Dryland: One Woman’s Swim to Sobriety, she is the author of Brain in a Jar: A Daughter’s Journey Through Her Father’s Memory and a contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias. She lives in Vermont with her husband and son.

Find out more about Nancy at her website, and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.


Robin is a photographer, artist, writer, yoga teacher, sometime poet, wife, mom, grandma, daughter, sister, friend, and occasional traveler currently living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. She shares her daily walks and meanders, a lot of quotes, some of her artwork, and a lot of her photography here on Ye Olde Blogge. Older posts can be found at Life in the Bogs, her previous blog. Robin and her husband are (still!) in the midst of renovating the house and cleaning up the property they refer to as the Wabi-Sabi Ranch, 35 acres that include marsh, a dock on a tidal creek, meadows, and woodlands. Every day brings new discoveries.

16 thoughts on “Book review: Dryland: One Woman’s Swim to Sobriety

  1. Sounds like a good read with lessons to share. I expect many could relate to this – when you have an all-consuming goal that becomes your life center, what do you do when it is no longer there?
    Interesting that you were in the Jr. Olympics, that takes a lot of focus and training. I never had the self-esteem in my teens for sports, I bloomed late and more than made up for it. 😉
    35 min. today… this is SO good for me to practice focus and breathing. A good challenge. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it was more my mother’s goal than mine, Eliza, but it took me a while to figure that out. She started me in dance and gymnastics when I was 2.
      I’m enjoying the challenge, too. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You are the second person whose review of this book I read today. The other person also commented that she was surprised that she’s enjoying more memoirs than ever before. I’ll add this one to my ‘to read’ list.

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are delightful and always appreciated. I will respond when I can (life is keeping me busy!), and/or come around to visit you at your place soon. Thank you!

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