Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer. I am not a mountain climber and I am not particularly athletic. But the idea of average people placing themselves into extraordinary circumstances has always appealed to my sense of adventure and imagination. This is a true story about people who climbed Mount Everest in May 1996 and of their fight for survival when a storm caught them unawares at or near the summit.
The cover wouldn't have necessarily captured my attention. To be honest, I don't remember why I picked it up in the book store and began to thumb through it. But I do know that when I glimpsed the photographs of some of the people--people I didn't know at that point whether they lived or died--I was hooked. I had to read of their ordeal.
At that point, unbeknownst to me, I was emotionally invested in that book. The investment grew as I read it. I felt as if I knew the people--where they came from, the families they left behind as they followed their dreams, what drove them to do what they do. I turned the pages well into the night, knowing I wouldn't rest until they were off that mountain safely.
And when some died on the mountain--and twenty years later, their bodies are still there, frozen in place--the images couldn't escape. I still, to this day, recall Beck Weathers' superhuman effort to descend that mountain even though he was blind; I still think of the oldest Japanese woman to summit the peak, only to die on her way down; I still think of the postman who saved his hard-earned money to do something extraordinary--and lost his life in the process.
The movie based on the book brought these people to life once more, and of course I had to see it. I went with someone who hadn't read the book and hated the movie, though I could have watched it repeatedly. Another friend actually signed up to travel to Base Camp. So obviously what captured my imagination captured someone else's but repulsed another.
What was the last book you read? Did it make an emotional impact on you in the store or as you heard about it? Did it continue to make an emotional impact on you as you read it?
The Tempest Murders is now available as an audio book. Irish Detective Ryan O'Clery comes to life through the voice of actor Jack Nolan. Listen to a free sample on amazon.