Monday, November 28, 2022

The Stranger in the Lifeboat

 Another book another blog about my thoughts.

I have never read any book by Mitch Albom. He has been quite popular from his Tuesday with Morrie book but I never got into it. Now I decided to pick up his latest book. I will admit, it was an intriguing read. It kept me engaged throughout the book. It was written in three story lines - the lifeboat, a future in which the lifeboat has been found and a reporter's accounting of what is happening when the lifeboat has been found.

The book is about 10 people stuck in a lifeboat when a man boards the lifeboat and claims that he is God. The book is written from the perspective of one man, Benji, who is writing the stories of the survivors of a boat explosion. The lifeboat is stranded in the middle of the ocean. God has said he would save them all, but they ALL need to believe in him. Well, that does not happen, so the survivors are dying one by one. 

In the future, a man comes to a police officer and shows him the lifeboat that has floated to the island. There is the journal found in the lifeboat which the police officer does not tell anyone about. It is the journal of the Benji that he is writing about his day to day survival to his wife and about the impending doom/death. 

There is a little girl also in the boat who never speaks. One of the survivors takes a knife and kills the man who is calling himself God - so that means he was not God. The little girl says she is God when only she and Benji are left. The thing about Benji's story is that he first thinks his cousin caused the explosion and then later realizes that he may have been the one to cause the explosion. The girl/God makes him realize that he did not in fact cause the explosion and he actually jumped off the yacht to commit suicide. He was really depressed and decided to end his life, but he did eventually got saved by God. It was actually Benji who showed the police office the lifeboat.

Now Benji lives to make life good for people, he helps them get through tough times. 

I feel sometimes that just like any other thing in our life, books also come in our lives at particular times. Another book I just read was "Many Masters Many Lives" by Brian Weiss. It was about how Weiss, a therapist, cured his patient through hypnosis. But the main part of the hypnosis was that the patient went into her past lives during that time. During hypnosis she recalled more than 80 past lives. My friend had told me to read this book 15 years ago, but I read it only now. Similarly the Albom book, I just decided to pick it up. Both books are about spirituality, believing in God and doing good.

I don't have many spirituality issues, and am usually quite happy. Lately though I have been wondering if there is something that is bothering me. Maybe that is why these books are coming into my life.

Sunday, October 2, 2022


Two book reviews back to back...but one year later. Does not mean I have not read any books! I just felt like writing about this one. 

Breathless by Amy McCulloch is her first adult fiction about murders on Mount Manaslu. She is the youngest Canadian (Chinese-White) woman to climb that mountain in 2019. It is a feat as it is about 8163 m (26781 ft) high. It is quite something! She had a few mountain climbing before but this was her first eight thousander, as mountain climbers call more than 8000 m high mountains.

The book itself was a great read, it kept me engaged throughout the journey of Cecily Wong, the protagonist. In fact just as Cecily was pushing herself to finish the summit, I was eager to find out what happens at the end of the story. The book makes you feel like you are part of the journey with Cecily. Of course it helps that Amy herself has climbed the mountain, so anything she writes is going to be from personal experience, except the murders, of course! 

The story is about Cecily, a journalist, invited by a charismatic climber, Charles McVeigh, who is scaling the last of the eight thousanders without the use of ropes etc. that are used for other climbers. So alpine climbing - that is what they call when you do climbing without any commercial help. Cecily will be writing his story on return from the summit. She is joined by three other team members, an influencer, a film maker and a Tech entrepreneur, the sponsor of this trip. No one knows anyone before. And then the murders start occurring.

She takes us through the base camp and all other camps in very detailed manner. I was right there climbing with her (from the comfort of my home!). I enjoyed all the details of the trekking, the gear, the food, the Sherpas, the tents and just the living in the base camp at such high altitudes. The mystery is also good. It just shows that you never really know anyone and what their ulterior motives are. And also that everyone was practically a stranger at the start of the trek, but you have to depend on your team mates throughout the journey.

The mountains seem isolated enough, yet just crowded enough to make them seem like a tourist spot, as there are so many people on the trail. Ever since reading this book, I have been exploring on the internet for pictures and found many. One blog I read was of Jackson, an Australian climber. He has amazing pictures if you want to see. 

I know I will never be doing this trek. I have done two mountain treks only - Wayna Picchu (next to Macchu Picchu, 2667 m) and Mount Sinai (where Moses received the ten commandments from God, 2285 m). And that was sufficient! 

The only other mountain trek book I read was Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. That was a bit confusing, but still good. The movie was more enjoyable. I will recommend Breathless to anyone who likes adventures and thrillers!