I lifted this small story from the website: Readitforward.com. I laughed thinking of how many times I've done exactly this—hoped against hope that a huge sneezing man wouldn't sit next to me. Life is ultimately such a crap shoot, isn't it?
In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick
“Many years ago I was boarding a plane to Las Vegas, planning on doing two things I really enjoyed: gambling and reviewing All-You–Can-Eat buffets (I was young. Thankfully, I got both habits out of my system.). Also boarding was a large passenger sneezing and wheezing. Here was someone who desperately needed a bowl of chicken soup and a flight refund. While he squeezed his way down the aisle looking for his seat, everyone on the plane was thinking the same thing I was—I hope he doesn’t sit next to me. As he settled in next to me, I imagined the worst. Needless to say, by the end of the flight, we not only became friends who still keep in touch twenty years later, but he recommended a book which changed my life. During the flight, he sold me on In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick.
I asked my mom for this book for Christmas and as my Vegas friend promised, the book was extraordinary. So much so, it convinced me to write my own. Up until that point, I wrote comedy pieces and columns in publications but never anything long form. Speed up to today—20 years later—In the Heart of the Sea has been adapted into a movie and now that I’ve finished my current project (Footnotes from the World’s Greatest Bookstores), I plan to publish that illustrated novel inspired by my favorite book. Called The Sea Below Us, it’s a black comedy about the missing Sir John Franklin. I sent a manuscript to Nathaniel Philbrick—whom I have also met and kept in touch with over the years—and thanked him for the inspiration his book provided. He loved the manuscript.” —Bob Eckstein, author of Footnotes from the World’s Greatest Bookstores