We have all heard and probably said it sometimes “I just could not put down that book, once I started reading it. I had to finish it before doing anything else”. I have known people who have stayed overnight to finish the book that they started reading. There are people who leave everything else that they are supposed to do and finish the book that they started. I do not know if book reading has been the cause of conflict among the couples as TV watching is, but I would assume that there must be some cases of this as well.
The addiction that I am talking about is not reading books all the time. It is about getting hooked to a particular book and story and finding it difficult to do anything else and there is almost maniacal tendency to finish the book before thinking about anything else. Not every book can have this kind of effect on its readers but some authors have mastered the art of writing such books. Dan Brown and Jeffery Archer’s name comes topmost in my mind. They have a tendency to finish each chapter of their book on a suspense note and then you start reading the next one and then next one and so on.
I have myself been through such times when I could not put down the book that I was reading. In most of the cases I have regretted it later. The adrenaline rush that you get when you are in the middle of suspense takes away your energy once you finish the book and there is a time when you find yourself lost and sometimes unable to do anything else or start a new book. All these are symptoms of addiction and then withdrawal. It sucks you in and then leaves you completely high and dry. I have sometimes felt that the books where you are able to take a break and still enjoy it as much are much better. They are more like slow wine that takes you at a high and keep you there for a longer time.
I have been fan of Jeffrey Archer’s writings from college days when I first read “Kane and Abel”. I must have read all his books and some of them multiple times. Even his short stories are amazing with great twists and turns. When I picked up “Paths of Glory”, I was expecting a similar experience. But this book literally and figuratively took me to the greatest heights of Mount Everest. The book is a fictionalized account of mountaineer George Mallory who made multiple attempts to scale Everest and in his last attempt he died after slipping off a ridge in 1924. Whether he slipped before or after scaling the Everest is still a mystery.
According to Archer’s book, Mallory slipped after scaling Everest in 1924, that is 29 years before Hillary conquered it and came back alive. His story is based on the premise that Mallory had promised his wife that if he scales the Everest, he will leave his and his wife’s photograph on the peak. He used to carry the photograph in the pocket of his jacket. When Mallory’s body was found in 1999, there was no photograph with him even though other papers were found in his clothes.
Whether Mallory conquered it or not is probably of less significance to me but his attempts to scale Everest itself are legendary. This is a book that really highlights the grit and determination of Mallory and his team at a time when they did not have much technology to support them. The description of multiple attempts that his team made have been written really well and you get a feel of hardships that these people faced to stand on the top of the Earth. Just the fact that somebody did conquer it but it took them 29 more years itself shows the feat that Mallory achieved.
Of course, the style in which Archer has written the book adds to the fun. His way of writing almost makes it look like a romantic and heroic at the same time. This is not a regular Archer book but it is one of his best even if we leave the controversy aside.