This latest book `A Survival Guide for Life' by Bear Grylls is a 5-star publication - beautifully bound with a marker ribbon and with a variety of fonts and almost bullet-point bold print presentation that is simple and straightforward to read. In addition to books the author is probably best known for his world-wide television swashbuckling adventure and survival programmes. At age 23 years in 1998 he became the youngest Briton to climb Mount Everest, and I was impressed by his subsequent book `Facing Up'. As a Boy Scout one of my grandsons is equally impressed by Bear's contributions as Chief Scout and his promotion of guidance on how to stay alive in the wild and sustain oneself in hostile situations. On the basis of its title `A Survival Guide for Life' seemed to be a perfect Christmas present for my grandson (coming up 11 years old), and certainly it is inspiring and inspirational - but it is not what I expected - it does urge venturing outdoors, adoption of practical skills and tackling mountains, and Bears refers to Scouting and to SAS/Commando experiences, but `A Survival Guide for Life' is more about firing readers with enthusiasm as a form of treatise on life challenges and motivation.
Topics covered include commitment, courage, perseverance, tenacity, working hard, overcoming hurdles, kindness and caring with emphasis on fun and laughing at oneself. In the first chapter Bears encourages readers to think big and find their dream - their own personal Everest. He goes on to warn of `dream-stealers' and to beware of obstacles - but to make the first step, be passionate and positive, and to follow goals wholeheartedly. He employs numerous metaphors linked to mountaineering - taking things a step at a time, leadership and team spirit, assessing the risk:reward ratio, not carrying unnecessary baggage, acknowledging retreat is not failure etc. In giving advice about how to cope when things aren't going well he also relies on homilies and stories concerning family and friends plus Biblical quotes and comments from his heroes including Winston Churchill, Edmund Hillary and Neil Armstrong. The final chapter is on humanity and humility and there can be no doubting Bear Grylls as genuine. His writing endorses him as a likeable person with narrative that oozes enthusiasm and humour, and I credit him with speaking from the heart and having genuine faith - but his book is for older children and adults - at Christmas I'll be giving my copy of `A Survival Guide for Life' to my grandson's dad!