The best part of God's Hotel.
Fiction Interlude: Divergent.

I'm still going to fall apart in a disaster...

...but after reading Amanda Ripley's fantastic nonfiction book The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - And Why, at least for now I'll have the comfort of thinking I've learned something about surviving "the unthinkable."

I found this book because I enjoyed Amanda Ripley's more recent investigative title The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way. After reading it, I looked to see if she had written anything else, and up popped this title. So, because I am, in some small way, always expecting the worse*, this was a book I really wanted to read.

And I was not disappointed. I liked it even better than her book on education. Ripley set out to discover how people really DO behave during disasters (not how they THINK they'll behave), and to explore the psychology behind our survival tactics and fear responses. Her book is organized in the same order as we tend to respond to disasters: Denial; Deliberation; and the Decisive Moment.

Sadly, oh so sadly, I only read this book a few weeks ago and I've pretty much forgotten everything I thought I learned. Oh wait, I do remember something. In case of an emergency, try not to mill around aimlessly (as many people who survived the 9/11 attacks remember doing, and watching other people do). Do NOT go back for your personal belongings or load up on them, just get out. And don't be hurt if airline personnel scream at you to get you to exit the plane after an emergency landing or crash. They're doing that because they've been trained that people do actually need to be yelled at to get moving.

It's a fascinating book, if a bit sobering. And let's face it, these days it's probably not a bad idea to try and imagine how you'd react in a disaster (and consider even more efficient or helpful ways of responding). I'm two for two with Ripley; can't wait to see her next book.

*Although when bad things happen, I often find myself surprised. It's like I do all of that worrying for nothing!