We asked some of our Oxford Stories reporters to tell us what they’re reading. Here are some of the books on their list:
By Grayson Baird
I recently read the book The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. I am not a fast reader, nor do I read as often as I would like too, but I finished this book in just three days. The book tells the story of an elderly man, Eddie, a war veteran, who has worked as a handy man at an amusement park for the later half of his life. He checks, fixes, and repairs all the rides throughout the day, and takes his job more seriously than all the younger employees around him.
On Eddie’s 83rd birthday, an accident involving one of the park’s roller coasters comes dangerously close to killing a little girl. Eddie pulls the little girl to safety at the expense of his own life. The rest of the book tells the journey Eddie takes on his way to heaven in a completely unique perspective.
Throughout the story, he meets five people that, in some way, shaped his life. Whether it was a stranger that Eddie does not even recognize or someone very important to him, these five people help explain how and why certain life-altering events took place. Although Eddie was convinced that he lived a rather meaningless life, these important people reveal to him the true meaning and purpose for his time on Earth.
The idea of one day knowing the reason you were brought into this world is intriguing for everyone, not just those who would say they are religious. I have grown up a Christian my entire life and have heard many stories and read lots of scripture that talks about heaven, and what happens when we pass away. Never have I looked at death as if it were a journey and not just a destination.
The idea of dying is scary to most people because there are so many unanswered questions. This book completely contrasts the belief that we are called to figure out why we are alive while we are living and, instead, demonstrates that our path to heaven is what truly answers all our questions. Although I bought this book out of pure curiosity about afterlife, I began to realize that The Five People You Meet in Heaven is more about life than it is about death.
Eddie’s life was explained to him in a different and deeper way than he could have ever discovered on Earth. Whether Albom meant to or not, there is a hidden message of appreciation and respect hidden within this book. An appreciation for all the people that touch your life in some way, both noticed and unnoticed, and respect for the path God has for your life. This book is not only for Christians, there is something to get out of this book no matter what you believe in. The message you get out of readying Eddie’s story is different for everyone. Not all readers may take away the same meanings as I did, which is just one of the many great parts about this novel.
It made me realize whenever I am feeling sorry about myself, or I think I am having a bad day, I need to suck it up because it is absolutely nothing compared to what some of the U.S military servicemen go through. – Noah Scannell
By Noah Scannell
I recently finished reading the book Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 by Marcus Luttrell. Most people know about this story because a movie was released in 2013 based on the book. This was hands down the best book I have ever read.
It is about four Navy SEALs (Sea Air and Land, the special forces of the U.S. Navy) who were members of SEAL Team 10. Thier mission was to capture of kill one of Osama bin Laden’s right-hand men. They were dropped from a helicopter into the mountains of Afghanistan and hiked to mountains near the village where the enemy was thought to be. After hours of surveillance, the four Navy SEALs were discovered by a pack of goatherders. The Americans let them go, and the goatherders alerted the Taliban of their location.
Soon after the SEALs let them go, an estimated 140 Taliban fighters were right on top of them. Outnumbered and outgunned, the four U.S. Navy SEALs endured a brutal gunfight on the mountain, fighting for their lives. The story displays the courage and toughness of the United States military with excellent and gruesome details. These men would die before they quit.
It was obvious they had a calling for the military; a strong desire to protect the United States of America at the highest level. They were all true patriots, and I have the utmost respect for them and what they did in the mountains of Afghanistan. Never did they believe they were out of the fight. The four U.S. Navy SEALs were all shot multiple times and suffered terrible injuries from their numerous falls down the mountain, but they never gave up. There wasn’t an ounce of quit in them.
Marcus Luttrell, the author of the book, was the only one to make it out alive. He does an excellent job portraying the courage of these men and how talented they were. This book will cause chills to go down your spine and make you proud to be an American.
It made me realize whenever I am feeling sorry about myself, or I think I am having a bad day, I need to suck it up because it is absolutely nothing compared to what some of the U.S military servicemen go through.