November, 1990 – I was working in a small independent bookstore in my hometown. We had received our copies of the NEIBA Holiday Catalog, a full-color listing of the big books for that holiday season. In the catalog I saw a listing for a new book coming out: Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. There was a short description – maybe a sentence long – but it was enough to get me so excited that I stopped by the store every day after school, even if I wasn’t scheduled to work. Some might say that makes me a bit of a geek, but I say it’s a testament to the imagination of Michael Crichton.
I’m sure by now most of you have heard that Mr. Crichton passed away this week. Many news services and blogs have done a great job of summarizing the career of this legendary author, so I won’t do that here. Instead I’ll share a little of my reader’s history with Mr. Crichton. Jurassic Park sent me onto a Crichton reading streak that saw me devour, in quick succession, The Andromeda Strain, Congo and Sphere. I think the book I most enjoyed was one many may not know about: Travels. This was Mr. Crichton’s memoir-of-sorts. In it he delves into the realm of psychics and exorcists, he describes his medical training, and recounts his many treks around the world, to places such as Tahiti, Malaysia, the Caribbean and Pakistan. And, it has one of the best first lines of a book: "It is not easy to cut through a human head with a hacksaw…" [FYI: This was part of his medical training!]
If you’ve never read Michael Crichton before, I’d say Travels is a great book to begin with, and now is a good time to start.