Thursday, March 16, 2017

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer review

Title: Into Thin Air
Author: Jon Krakauer
Genre: nonfiction/ adventure
3 Words: Intense, Tragic, nerve-racking
Quote: “I quickly came to understand that climbing Everest was primarily about enduring pain. And in subjecting ourselves to week after week of toil, tedium, and suffering, that most of us were seeking, above all else,  something like a state of grace”(140)

The Gist:

            Looking off from the highest point in the world Jon Krakauer’s primary thought is how difficult the journey down will be as he sees the storm clouds moving in.  #1 National Bestselling author, Jon Krakauer, starts the book with a glimpse of the top of the mountain at which point he jumps back to the beginning of the journey that led him there. Working as a writer for a magazine, Krakauer convinces his employer to pay for him to climb Everest and write about it. Krakauer is an avid climber and has climbed on many treacherous mountains, but nothing can prepare him for what he will face on Everest. As he meets his team and they start their hike towards base camp, the characters backgrounds are elaborated on as well as stories of other people who have climbed the mountain.

 Once they reach base camp and begin the acclimation process it seems that every moment is one of misery.  As the elevation increases the amount of problems follows.  Characters getting sick, hit with falling rocks, living in places with human feces all over the ground, and yet these are the more minor issues that occur. With each assent more and more health issues and tragedies occur increasing in both frequency and magnitude.

Dead bodies can be seen laying in the snow along the trail and it appears to have little effect on the climber’s goals to reach the top. When the climbers make their attempt at the summit nearly all of them are exhausted, sick, and suffering from lack of oxygen.  At that altitude a multitude of disease can strike even the healthiest of individuals.
Through team competition, pressure to get to the top, cognitive impairment from the altitude, over-exertion previously in the climb, and bad luck, disaster is inevitable. The only question is how bad will it be?

My thoughts:

            The negatives:

·         Slow start
·         Constantly depressing mood   
         The beginning of the novel was not very plot oriented with many asides and back stories being enlightened upon in detail.  I felt that some of the details to each character’s back story and some of the stories regarding previous climbs could have been left out or at least shortened. The detailed background stories do make the reader feel more connected to the characters, and the stories of previous climbs help to increase intensity and interest. I still feel they could have been left out.
I understand that this story ends in tragedy and that in writing down the details after the fact lead to it being remembered as more depressing than it may have been. That being said the author must have felt joy and excitement at some point during the expedition, which was seldom shown. I cannot fault the author too much since the mood matches the plot well and is consistent throughout.

 The Pros:

·         Very detailed
·         Insight into his thinking
·         Tone setting
·         Foreshadowing

The author’s account of the events and everyone involved was very detailed. He knew the facts of each individuals back story, the clothes being worn by seemingly insignificant characters, and each situation was described in a striking, sometimes overly, detailed way. Krakauer defiantly put a lot of time and effort into this book and it shows in the clarity, which is presented through the surplus of detail.

I felt that the author did a phenomenal job portraying his thinking during the actual events, which were being described. I am sure it was painful and difficult to try and put himself back into that mindset to recreate the event, but the end result is fantastic. The reader gets a clear glimpse into the mind of someone on the mountain, and that, combined with the detail, makes the reader feel as if they are on Everest with him. 

At the beginning of every chapter a black and white picture is depicted as well as a short outcrop from other authors about Everest. These two added features do wonders for setting the tone of the novel. The pictures are in only two colors and drawn jagged and dark, giving the impression of tragedy, suffering, and pain. The outcrops are nearly almost equally as depressing. Those two elements together at the start of each chapter help to keep the tone consistent and fitting throughout the novel.

The main, and most effective, literary tool the author used was foreshadowing. It can be seen throughout the entire novel from the book starting at the top of the mountain to the pictures and outcrops at the beginning of each chapter. The author gives a reader a glimpse of what is going to occur next, causing the reader to plunge deeper into the book to find out the details of the problems to come.


I would recommend this book to anyone who likes adventure books or books focused around tragedy. I probably would not read this book on the beach or on vacation as it will probably put you in a somber mood. All in all I enjoyed the read and appreciated the literary skills of the author 4/5 pens. Let me know what you think of the book? Do any of the readers like mountain climbing?

For some thought provoking questions that came up from the novel go here (possible spoilers)

  • Krakauer, Jon, and Randy Rackliff. Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster. , 1999. Print.

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Thought-Provoking questions: Into Thin Air

Thought provoking questions.

1.      Is it ethical for guides to take clients onto the mountain?

                                   Even the most experienced of climbers are not immune to symptoms from being at high altitudes. The guides themselves are battling cognitive impairment as well as other altitude related sicknesses, which are enhanced because the guide has to work extra hard to try and bring his clients to the top of the mountain. If a guide over-exerts himself trying to help a client, they cannot help any other client that gets in trouble.

To make matters worse most of the clients have limited climbing experience and usually not much experienced being exposed to extreme altitudes. Given this it seems like the guides are giving people false confidence about climbing the mountain and allowing for people who would not be able to climb the mountain, to get into the higher more dangerous altitudes. Are the guides then leading these clients to their deaths?

2.      Is it ethical to take advantage of the Sherpas?

The Sherpas work the hardest on the mountain, making it safe for every other climber on the mountain. However, they receive the least amount of pay often receiving around $2,000. The Sherpas are risking their lives everyday on the mountain and sometimes even go as far as to carry other climbers that cannot go any farther. Is it wrong to have these employees be so under-payed for the danger they are putting themselves in?

3.      Why do the Sherpas work so hard for little pay?

        As discussed above the Sherpas are very severely under-payed yet they continue to put in more effort than anyone else involved. Why do the Sherpas feel so obligated to go far beyond what others do? What sense of duty are they acting on? Is it honor? Why are they willing to risk their lives on an everyday basis for people they don’t even know?

4.      Why do people continue to climb the mountain?

         What is it that drives people to climb that mountain? Is it daredevil adrenaline junkies? I personally don’t think so adrenaline wears off and even at the top of the mountain there is no moment of great achievement. No reward is felt until you have successfully descended the mountain. So why do people put themselves through such pain just to climb a mountain? Are they looking for acceptance from other people? Or just need a challenge to conquer?

5.      Is selfishness experienced during ciaos a sign of true human nature?

         When people were in trouble and dying on the mountain, there were countless times that they were left to die, sometimes so that the other climber would be able to reach the top of the mountain. Is the life of another person worth the bragging rights of reaching the summit of Everest? Why is it that when chaos breaks out people lose all signs of morality and start operating on animalistic tendencies? Is it simply human nature to act like this, or are these just bad people?

6.      How do some people survive against such insurmountable odds?

        There was one man in the story who was found after spending a night out on Everest exposed. He was found with a three inch plate of ice covering his face and was barely breathing. This man was left for dead assuming he could not recover. Later on, however, this same character walked into the camp under his own power. That night his tent blew open, his sleeping bag was blown off him, and he could not move, spending another night exposed. Somehow this climber ended up surviving. How is it that a man in such bad condition could manage to survive? How do people die in much less extreme conditions? Was he extraordinary with a will to live or was he just really lucky?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

How to Keep an Open Mind

I personally feel that in today's world people are becoming and less open minded and becoming more emotionally attached to their opinions. They feel that only their idea  can be right and that it must be the truth because it  is what they believe to be the truth.  Due to this, common discussions turn into arguments, more feelings are hurt,  people lose friendships, and it  limits the ability to learn. So what is the secret to keeping an open mind. It is very simple and almost everyone can  do it.

                                          Read more      

That 's  right the key to keeping an open mind is to simply read more books. Reading allows you a  chance to get inside someone's head, to see the world from their perspective. They may bring up ideas that you personally disagree with, but try to be open to the new idea and not immediately object to it. This is easier to do when you read, since you are exposed to how the author thinks. Also the more you read, the more you learn and the better you'll be at forming educated opinions and discussing them. Now unfortunately the solution does not just become as simple as if you read a bunch of books you will automatically become more open minded. The world does not work like that. You have to pick the right books read.
    Choosing  the Best Book to Help                                                     ?????????

Most people when they read have a favorite kind of book, whether its a specific genre, character trait, plot line, etc. The key to becoming more open minded is you have to select a book that has ideas in it that are different than your own. This can be in any genre as long as the ideas are different. Try to  read something that your interested in, so that you can enjoy the book and get through it, but make sure the characters/ideas are different than what you're used to. To get the absolute best results, chose a book that addresses controversial topics, or that challenges a wide held belief in society. Malcolm Gladwell for example loves to write about these topics and he is good giving evidence to back his claim.

     The Final Steps     

So after you have chosen your book, sit down and read it, and when you come across something that you disagree with, try to refrain from immediately thinking its wrong and wait and see why that character/author feels the way they do. If once you've heard the reasoning behind it and you still don't agree that is perfectly acceptable too. The idea behind being open minded is not to simply agree with everything anyone says. It is to actually consider the possibility that they may be  right and if you hear their argument and  still don't agree still respect their  mind set and agree to disagree. That may sound like a waste of time to some since dismissing their  claim from the start comes to the same outcome, but perhaps at some point you may actually find out that you agree with the other person. So read as much as you can, enjoy it, and try to respect other peoples opinions. If there is one thing Malcolm Gladwell's books have taught me, it is that some things that appear to be obvious have more to them than you originally thought.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

What The Dog Saw: and other adventure by Malcolm Gladwell

Title: What The Dog Saw: and other adventures
Author: Malcolm Gladwell
Genre: nonfiction/ social psychology
3 Words: Intriguing, wide-encompassing, enlightening
Rating: 5/5 pens
Best Quote: "If everyone had to think outside the box, maybe it was the box that needed fixing"(Gladwell, 374)

The Gist:
  Think you have an idea about the rules of society? Do you have an interest in a broad range of categories? What the Dog Saw: and other adventures by #1 bestselling author of The Tipping Point, David and Goliath, and Outliers may be the book for you. It is made up of pieces that Gladwell had published throughout his carrier. The individual pieces are organized into three main sections. The first section, Obsessives, Pioneers, and Other Varieties of Minor Genius, focuses on the success stories of individuals in a wide range of professions from salesman to dog trainers. Each chapter focuses on a different story and has a different central theme. The second section, Theories, Predictions, and Diagnoses, takes a look at common problems in the world from the homeless to the medical field. Gladwell points out alternate solutions to the problems at hand using evidence to back his claim. The third section, Personality, Character, and intelligence, focuses on how these traits are viewed in the world today and how they are often viewed the wrong way.

      It is hard to give a summary of the content of this book without spoilers so I will present you with the format of each chapter. Malcolm Gladwell likes to take issues that seem like common knowledge or issues of extreme controversy and look deeper at what we think we know. He usually presents the issue in the form of an anecdote, showing how the topic arises in everyday life. Throughout the remainder of the chapter Gladwell masterfully links the original anecdote to a variety of other scenarios all the while citing scientific research to back his claim. Once he feels his point is proven he leads the reader back to the original issues and clearly connects how the solution applies to that circumstance, usually ending with his message clearly stated.

My thoughts: 
The negatives: It is not an easy task to name the negative parts of this book for there aren’t many. One possible place of concern is the F-word appears once during the book. Also the information could be presented with a bias, by specifically picking the cases that prove the authors point and by ignoring cases that may show the opposite. Throughout the book, Gladwell rarely brings up specific arguments against his case. He spends most of his time showing the data that supports him. In this circumstance, however, if he spent all the time presenting the oppositions case the novel would turn into an encyclopedia and that is not the purpose of this book. So it is understandable why he left that out.

        The Pros: My favorite aspect of this book is the amount of topics that it covers. I seldom find myself only interested in one topic, and this book gives you an opportunity to explore a wide range of topics. Not only does the book build your education, but it also supplies a source of entertainment. After reading this book I feel like I know significantly more than when I started.

       At the beginning of the book, Gladwell states that he put together this book to allow people to get a perspective of other people’s live and that is exactly what he achieved. Dispite the mass amount of different topics, each one felt very personal as if you knew the person in the story. The amount of research Gladwell put into every chapter is incredible. His attention to detail helps the reader to better connect with the individuals in the stories, he writes it in a way that does not feel educational but simply like reading a story.

Since I have been reading a few of Malcolm Gladwell’s books over the past few weeks, I have become fond of his style. He writes with an easy flow to his sentences and ideas. Each idea connects to the last seamlessly, allowing the reader to go through page after page in a matter of minutes. That kind of effortless reading is enjoyable to me and adds to the enjoyment of picking up a good book.

          Recommendation: Out of the Malcolm Gladwell books I have read so far this is by far my favorite. I would recommend this book for anyone who has an interest in psychology or any social issues. Also if you just like critical thinking and entertaining stories, you will enjoy this book. If one of the stories does not interest you, then simply skip it and move onto the next chapter. This was an easy 5/5 pens.

Gladwell, Malcolm. What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2009.

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Friday, March 10, 2017

David and Goliath: Underdog, Misfits, and The Art of Battling Giants- Malcolm Gladwell

            Thought-provoking, confident-boosting, and all around inspirational.  Well known author Malcolm Gladwell provided an incredible book that I would strongly recommend for anyone to read. The psychological science tied to the enlightening anecdotes leaves the reader constantly wanting more and turning page after page. 

            The book starts with the classic story of David and Goliath told in the classical sense. Gladwell then takes the time to point out the significant details of David’s success and starts the book out with the strong theme, if you look close enough you will see the underdog is not always an underdog. Gladwell takes this theme and applies it to people in the real world.  He points out how the advantage is not always with the person with more power and that is a lesson that most people need to learn.

I deeply enjoyed reading this book. The structure was incredibly crafted with very smooth transitions from one idea to the next, always tying in ideas that had already been discussed previously, and explaining the connections clearly. This lead to a building effect where the points were even further driven-home as the book continued. The sentences flowed together seamlessly allowing for a quick, easy read.
The actual content matter of the book provoked lots of personal reflection and in-depth thinking trying to decipher the merit of what was being said. Each topic was controversial in its own right, but upon reading could be shown to be the truth of reality.

The themes were consistent throughout every section each posing a paradox that the author would spend the rest of the chapter proving correct. The proof was offered in the form of at least one anecdote, including quotes from the interview, conducted by the author, of the individuals involved in the scenario. The paradox was then further proven using scientific studies and factual research done on the topic, which adds in an increased level of credibility to the author’s claims. Every claim came with a underlying truth; although the paradox can be true, the scenarios where the paradox is true are nearly always required more work and hardship from the individual affected.

Overall I deeply enjoyed reading this book and found it thought-provoking and intellectual, giving a clarity to the reality of the world. This is a book I feel that anyone could enjoy, but I would specifically suggest it to people interested in social psychology or anyone who needs a reminder that they are not at as much of a disadvantage as they think. Overall I give this book a 5/5. 

Gladwell, Malcolm. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. First edition. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2013

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Outliers: The Story of Success

Ever wonder what makes a hockey star, famous lawyer, or billionaire entrepreneur, different from the rest of society? Malcolm Gladwell, #1 bestselling author of The Tipping Point and Blink, poses an interesting answer to that question in his psychology based book Outlier.
The book is organized into two parts. The first part of the book analyzes individual success stories of famous people such as Billy Joe, Bill Gates, and The Beatles, rightfully naming them the outliers. In this analysis of how each individual got to the position they hold today, Gladwell claims they are merely a productive of extremely lucky and unlikely circumstances that happen to befall them. In doing so, Gladwell does not undermine the ability of these individuals nor does he deny their hard work. He often points out their tireless efforts to achieve mastery of their trade as one of the leading factors to their achievement, merely elaborating on how it was they gained the opportunity to have access to the tools they needed to work hard.
In the second part of the book the main focus is on how culture influences daily actions of people, leading to success or failure in their everyday lives. Gladwell ties events such as family feuds, plane crashes, and academic ability all to culture. The underlying theme of part two is developed as if cultures effects on individual’s success or failures can be acknowledged without insult, than it can be used as a means to bettering performance of all individuals. Gladwell ends the book with a very personal account, detailing his own mother’s story of success.
Gladwell flaunts a very easy-to-read writing style with well-connected ideas, facts and anecdotes to try to persuade the reader of what he is saying. He brings up many good points, presenting some interesting information that most readers would be unaware of, which keeps the pages turning. There are some issues that came up while reading. The overall theme of the book was not built upon well. The start of the book seems to supply information of little use towards any central point. To point out the circumstances these individuals achieved is interesting yet not practical to the reader in any sense. There are small moral lessons in part one such as work hard and a suggestions to change the system, but they are overshadowed by his insistence that the only way many achieve greatness is through luck; not very motivational.
In the second part of the book a theme emerges when Gladwell claims that this knowledge can be used to grant everyone a chance at becoming great, which although valid, was never brought up throughout the majority of the book. Even once that theme is identified, He chooses to end the book on a passage about being thankful for the circumstances that landed you where you are today,  which is not central to the other themes throughout the book and in no way was ever suggested until the last page.

This book provides an interesting, quick read that allows readers to be exposed to multiple interesting thoughts and ideas about the reality of certain situations.  The lack of development of the theme makes it difficult to pull a central message, but the reading was still enjoyable. I would recommend this book to readers interested in subtle facts of social psychology and how the world works, not the best option to provide intellect on how to become successful. Overall the book deserves a 3.5 out of 5.
Gladwell, Malcolm, 1963-. Outliers : The Story of Success. New York :Little, Brown and Co., 2008. Print.

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Hello to all future viewers of this blog,
I would like to make my first post a short description of myself and what I intend to do with this blog. I am 19 and currently attend college at The University of Akron. If I had to describe myself in one word, it would be "energetic". Throughout my life I have come across a wide variety of  hobbies that interest me and continue to find more interesting things every day. My hobbies include reading, writing, playing sports, listening to music, playing music, watching sports, hanging around with my friends, and of course spending time with my family.
The main focus  of this blog, at least at the start, is going to be to review books that I have read. Every so often a random topic may appear, but that is simply how my mind works. So if you are a big fan of books, like me, then you are in the right place. If you also like  being random in sporadic, also like me, then perhaps you will be able to enjoy this blog as well.
I hope that you have fun reading my content and appreciate the time put in to produce it. If you ever have a need to contact me for any reason, questions or suggestions, you can reach me at