Book Review: A Mile Down by David Vann

A Mile Down by David VannA Mile Down: What it is about

Windmill Books says: “In this inspirational memoir, internationally bestselling author David Vann tells the true story of building his own sailing ship and of the disastrous voyage that ensues.

As a thirty-year-old tourist in Turkey, David Vann stumbles across the steel frame of a ninety-foot sailboat and decides to fulfill a long-buried dream: he will rebuild the boat. From friends, family, and credit cards, he borrows $150,000 to construct the ship and achieve his ambition.

However, when the Turkish builders take shameless advantage of him, eventually charging him over $500,000, Vann finds himself on the edge of financial ruin and decides to start a chartering business. Battling with construction nightmares, spiraling debts and freak storms, Vann begins to wonder if he is merely repeating his father’s failures at sea, and a career that led to tragedy.

At once a page-turning memoir of adventure on the open ocean and a tale of one man’s attempt to overcome fate and realise his dream, A Mile Down is an unforgettable story of struggle and redemption by a writer of rare power.”

A Mile Down: What I thought

This was indeed a bit of a page turner, as it promises in the blurb! I read it during the 24-hour readathon, at the worst hours (when tiredness has set in), and it was very readable. It was a little depressing, though, as many of the things the author tries don’t work out for him. He knows the Turkish boat builders are taking advantage of him, but there is very little he can do, and he can only hope that the finished boat will be as he specified.

Later too, he meets mainly people who take advantage of him in some way, or refuse to help him. Worst is a captain at sea who does the very minimum to aid him when Vann’s boat is all but sinking. But slowly but surely, Vann meets people who are happy to help him out and things turn for the better. Or do they? It’s a journey of frustration, but great to read about.

Given that I would never buy a new house (too much hassle choosing wallpaper, a kitchen and bathroom, flooring, etc.), let alone have a house built from scratch, I was almost ill with the idea of having a boat built from scratch: that’s like a house with an engine. Think of all that could go wrong!! (Well, it did in this book.)

An enjoyable read, even for people like me, who don’t sail or would ever want to build their own boat.

Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)

Number of pages: 242

First published: 2005

I got this book: from a book shop

Genre: non-fiction

Extra: Other books by Vann I read: Sukkwan IslandCaribou Island, Dirt, Goat Mountain, Acquarium


Book Review: Conquering the Seven Summits of Sales by Susan Ershler and John Waechter

Conquering the Seven Summits of Sales by Susan Ershler and John WaechterConquering the Seven Summits of Sales: What it is about

From the publishers: “Two experts who have summited the tallest mountain on each of the seven continents—and scaled the highest peaks in corporate sales and business—examine what it takes to achieve success.

In making the grueling journey to the top of Mount Everest, Susan Ershler and John Waechter joined the elite group of climbers who had conquered the Seven Summits—the tallest mountains on each of the seven continents. This same determination has made them star performers in corporate sales and established them as business leaders. And both of them cherish the deep sense of satisfaction that comes from attaining a seemingly impossible goal through focus and persistence.

In this unique guide, Susan and John draw on concrete experience to inspire sales professionals—as well as all team members—to overcome limitations and reach new heights of success, illustrating how anyone can achieve peak performance. They will show you how to define your goals clearly, commit to a vision, “choose the right sherpa” (build the right team), “travel light” (manage time), and “measure the mountain” (track progress).

Weaving together stories from harrowing climbs and lessons of indomitable perseverance with actual tested methods for high achievement in sales, business, and life, Conquering the Seven Summits of Sales proves that anyone can overcome limitations and accomplish something real and meaningful in business and in life.”

Conquering the Seven Summits of Sales: What I thought

Since I have a small business myself, but sales is not my strongest point, I was keen to read this book and find out all kinds of sales secrets. It turned out the intended readership was corporate sales people, which I am not, of course. Because of that, the book was not as useful for me as I had hoped.

The book very systematically describes what to do in the sales process: first you set your (realistic targets), then you research your prospect’s business to some detail, and then you go out, talk to them, and persevere. That’s basically what the book says, but there are to-do lists and schemes that seem very useful if you’re into corporate sales.

The basics are having a vision, setting goals, and never giving up. I’ve heard that before. 🙂 However, the systematic approach seems worth trying out and sounds likely to lead to the intended result.

The combination with the authors’ climbing story was interesting, if you like to learn a bit about mountain climbing, but it felt a little random to me. Any other experience may have lead to the same story. I wasn’t convinced but it made a fun diversion from the sales talk.

I did pick up a few new tips but will look further for a different book to learn how to turn prospects into customers.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars (okay)

Number of pages: 208

First published: 2014

I got this: for review from Harper Business

Genre: Non-fiction, business


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