Usually if a book doesn’t capture me in the first few pages, I give up on it before it wastes any more of my time. Always having more than enough to read and not enough time for reading, it’s a rule for me. Well, it usually is, but I have to say that, despite my reluctance, I’m glad that I broke that rule for this particular book. It was touch and go for a while, though.
Now, this isn’t a book that I would have chosen for myself. I knew nothing about it and very little about it’s author. It was a few months ago, while I was talking to someone about books in general, that they mentioned it and asked me if I’d like to borrow it. “It’s the best book that I’ve ever read,” they said. That alone enticed me to say “Yeah, sure. Why not?”
Why not? It only took a few pages before I started sputtering my regrets. But since this got such accolades and was also a New York Times Bestseller, I had to give it a chance. After about a month, I managed to get through maybe 50 pages. I read another book on the side and even started a third. I apologized for not returning it yet, claiming that the holidays had gotten in the way. What I didn’t say was that there was no way that I could envision getting through all 400 pages of this boring, boring story.
The holidays were soon over, but every time I looked at that book sitting on my coffee table, along with the others that I’d rather read, I just couldn’t get myself to pick it up again. It took the stomach flu and a few days off from work to decide that I was going to give it one more chance. I still wasn’t thrilled about wasting my time on it and several chapters later, I hadn’t changed my mind about it, but I was searching for the reason why it was so special. I found that reason right after Page 100.
After that, I was hooked and couldn’t put it down. It’s a true story about a young lieutenant, Louis Zamperini, a former Olympic runner, who’s Air Force Bomber crashed during World War II. He survived the crash, but was stranded in a life raft in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Surrounded by sharks, thirsty and starving, there were no signs of rescue. I’ll leave it there–you’ll have to read it yourself to find out what happens next–but I will say that after the crash (Page 101) was when I stopped just reading a story about a guy’s life and began to be part of his amazing adventure. Did the author do anything differently at this point to capture my attention? I’d say no, the book was written well throughout. It was just that Zamperini’s life wasn’t really interesting, at least to me, until this happened. But a moment in time sure can make a difference!
When I give the book back to its owner next week, I’m going to be sure to thank him. I also have one word for it—WOW! It was a fantastic read. Was it my favorite book of all times? Well, probably not my very favorite (I like all sorts of books), but it is now among my favorites and I’ll never forget it. That’s saying a lot.
The book is UNBROKEN written by Laura Hillenbrand*. Be sure to check it out (and give it a chance).
*If the author’s name sounds familiar, you may know her by another bestseller, SEABISCUIT, which was also a true story that later became a movie.