I’m addicted to tales of survival, whether real or fiction, that show the power of the human spirit to overcome all sorts of obstacles and challenges and live to fight another day. Here are some of my favorites:
Black Wave: A Family’s Adventure at Sea and the Disaster That Saved Them by John and Jean Silverwood
A family on a sailing trip around the world encounters a rogue wave that leaves them stranded on a Coral reef–this is as much a story about how their sailing adventure kept this family from falling apart as it is a tale of survival–which makes it twice as intriguing.
Out of Captivity: Surviving 1,967 Days in the Colombian Jungle by Marc Gonsalves
A harrowing account by 3 Americans who were held captive by a group called FARC in Columbia. After surviving a plane crash they are immediately attacked and taken captive. They then must survive forced marches, hellish camps, and abuse by their captors–and surprisingly other hostages as well.
Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff
The exhilarating, untold story of an extraordinary World War II rescue mission. First of all a plane crash in the South Pacific plunges a trio of U.S. military personnel into the jungle-clad land of New Guinea. As they struggle to survive, their comrades much launch one of the most daring rescue attempts ever–launching a glider into a remote jungle valley
The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls
While Walls was never scaling mountains, surviving shipwrecks, or struggling to free herself from kidnappers–she was struggling to survive a childhood with parents who were often neglectful of her basic needs.
My Stroke of Insight by Dr. Jill Taylor
Taylor’s tale of survival involves her experiences as a brain scientist who gets the unique opportunity to discover her own brain in an entirely new way when she suffers from a stroke. As a reader I was rooting for Taylor to regain the full use of her body as she detailed all that she went through in her recovery–and I was also fascinated by her descriptions of how she was treated by the medical profession.
The Survivor’s Club: The Secrets and Science that Could Save Your Life by Ben Sherwood
So how well would you do if you were suddenly placed in your own tale of survival? Ben Sherwood decides to answer that question by investigating the characteristics that bind survivors together. Along the way he endures a military survival school and a simulated airplane crash and he also interviews experts on topics related to survival and real life survivors who endured unimaginable challenges and beat the odds and live another day. Bonus: go to www.thesurvivorsclub.org to take an assessment test that measures your own survival strengths and to read more survival stories.
The Greatest Survival Stories Ever Told edited by Lamar Underwood
Travel to the South Pole, the Andes, the Gobi Desert, and many other places in this collection of short stories and excerpts from novels full of the excitement of seeing someone survive against all odds.
Little Bee by Chris Cleave
A refugee from Nigeria is one of the central characters in this novel–her life intersects with that of a middle class women in England who is struggling to survive after her husband’s suicide. I found it thoroughly engaging–and then some.
What is the What by David Eggers
Valentino is a refugee from Sudan. As a boy he walked away from his hometown after war destroyed it. As a man he is fortunate enough to be living in the U.S., but he finds it just as hard to survive muggings, injustices, and those who act as if he is not there. I found this a moving and powerful tale of survival–based on the true life struggles of the lost boys of Sudan.