1.31.2008

Thoughts for Thursday - none!

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.)

10 comments:

Tara said...

I own and have read rather a lot of these sorts of books as well. I have Gulag and it looks so good, but I keep putting it off since it's also so long! What did you think about it?

Dorothy W. said...

Robinson Crusoe! That would fit into your disasters at sea category.

LK said...

Hi, Tara, I liked it, but it was a slog. If you can, check out Kolyma Tales -- fiction but by a man who suffered in the Gulag.

Dorothy, great choice! I've never read it -- was toying with it for the Year of Reading Dangerously. Think I'll add it to the list.

Iliana said...

You've got some great choices on here - Man's Search for Meaning. Powerful. Have you read A Fine Balance? Talk about hardships and how people overcome them (or not).

Literary Feline said...

What a great post! I think I'm partial to the war stories and family matter categories myself. :-)

d. chedwick bryant said...

I would like to add

The Orchard by Adele Crockett Robertson

An incredibly beautiful memoir of hardship during the depression when a Radcliffe educated girl struggles to save her family's apple orchard.
She overcomes so much recalling her late father's love for the orchard, and makes some interesting friendships. One of the best depression stories I have read. You feel like you are there with her.

The manuscript was discovered by her daughter after her death, & her daughter being unaware of the story makes it even more poignant.

Amateur Reader said...

Two classic, short firsthand Disasters at Sea:

William Bligh's "Narrative of the Mutiny", with its amazing 4000 mile boat voyage.

Owen Chase's "The Loss of the Ship Essex, Sunk by a Whale". The description of the whale going after the ship is incredible.

LK said...

Oooh, goody, thanks so much ched and AR for giving me some new titles to seek out!

verbivore said...

This is great - gives me a raft of books to think about. Most of these I have never read!

Danielle said...

I love lists--this is a great idea. I probably could add some titles to your survivor's category (#1)--The Seamstress and The Nazi Officer's Wife were both good WWII NF titles about Jewish women survivors.