I have been wanting to post here, but find my mind is not cooperating. This is usually when I go for the “tried and true” :: A List.
This time, I am listing my top “survivor” story categories. I like stories of people overcoming hardships, disasters, war. It gives me courage to face my own troubles, and it gives me great faith of the human spirit in the face of adversity. I tend to revisit these types of books when I’m dangerously close to feeling sorry for myself.
So, here’s my list, definitely not definitive — add your own! I’m always looking for new survivor stories!
LK’S TOP SURVIVOR CATEGORIES
1. WAR STORIES: The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank, Gulag: A History by Anne Applebaum, Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, This Way for the Gas Ladies and Gentlemen by Tadeusz Borowski, and Kolyma Tales by Varlam Shalamov. I probably have more of these kinds of books than any — could there have been any more suffering than what people went through during the two World Wars? Man’s inhumanity to man, especially in light of technological developments, is disturbing and horrifying and depressing. But, as these books show, some men truly rise above it. The abilities of these writers to overcome the unthinkable, through their lives and through their writing, are neverending lessons in courage.
2.DISASTERS AT SEA: Titanic by Wyn Craig Wade and The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger. I guess it’s one of the most terrifying scenarios humans can imagine: Being stranded at sea. Titanic is endlessly interesting, because it is so unbelievable. Unsinkable ship strikes iceberg, sinks in less than 2 hours and kills thousands, including many captains of industry. The Perfect Storm is compelling because of the way Junger tells the story; swordfishing never was so fascinating.
3. TRIAL BY ICE (3-way tie) Ordeal by Hunger, George R. Stewart, Alive!by Piers Paul Read, and Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. I guess the moral of these tales is don’t get caught in the snow. Seriously, the first two books, which I’ve read multiple times, are harrowing but really amaze me in terms of what humans are capable of when it comes to survival. Into Thin Air is more of a cautionary tale rather than a survival story, but it has its elements of heroism and endurance as well.
4. FAMILY MATTERS: Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt, A Shot in the Heart by Mikhail Gilmore, The Roosevelt Women by Betty Boyd Caroli, Nicholoas and Alexandra by Robert K. Massie, Cheaper by the Dozen by Ernestine Gilbreth, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. I’m sure there’s more, but I’ll stop here. These tales range from tales of complete dysfunction (Shot in the Heart) to healthy families pulling together in times of trouble (Cheaper by the Dozen)to crumbling dynasties (Nicholas and Alexandra. Nothing like reading about another family’s dysfunctions to make you feel all smug inside! (Just kidding.)