Monday, January 26, 2009

Books Read in Transit

The only time I get to read anymore is on an airplane. On this last trip I read Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers – it was really interesting. In it he examines those who become successful and why. One of the most intriguing ideas he presents is that we are a product of where we come from and a person’s ability to rise above and succeed is dependent on a series of lucky breaks. He also noted that the amount of time it takes for someone to gain superior expertise in a particular profession is around 10,000 hours. Very interesting.

I also read In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick. It is a historical narrative of the ship Essex that was sunk by a whale in the 1800s and was the inspiration for Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. The true story is pretty gruesome as the survivors were forced to eat their shipmates as they died and at one point they even killed one who was still alive and ate him. One of the most interesting parts of the story is the psychological changes that take place in a survival situation. It makes you ask yourself what you would do in the same situation – or maybe it just had that effect on me because I happened to be on a cruise and wondered what would happen if the boat sank! The book also tells what happened to the survivors later in life and how the actions were viewed by others. Again very interesting.
I will be on a plane again at the end of the week on my way to LA so maybe I’ll get a chance to read some more.


Britta Coleman said...

Kern loved that book. His favorite line, from the ship's captain years after the event when asked about a particular passenger: "Did I know him?" the captain said, "I 'et him!"

dee said...

I found it errily intriguing....and the fact that they go back to live in the same small town with the relatives of the people they ate must have been really weird....