The Next Chapter

Brian Francis tries to survive day-to-day life, as well as bear attacks, with these three books

The Next Chapter columnist and acclaimed writer reviews three books that will help you survive in the wilderness, as well as day-to-day life.
Brian Francis is a writer and columnist on The Next Chapter. (Brian Francis)
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Survival is about strength, resilience and creativity in the face of enormous obstacles. But, for The Next Chapter columnist Brian Francis, survival can encompass simply learning how to complete household chores more effectively.

With this in mind, he has chosen three books that will help you survive months stranded at sea, as well as unlikable co-workers.  

Francis is the author of novels like FruitNatural Order and the upcoming YA novel Break in Case of Emergency.

438 Days by Jonathan Franklin

Jonathan Franklin is a writer and investigative journalist. (Atria, Amy Franklin)

"On Nov.14, 2012 a pair of fishermen left the coast of Mexico for a weekend fishing trip in the open Pacific. They run into a storm, their motor dies and the two men are carried out into the vast emptiness of the Pacific. The lone survivor was rescued on Jan. 29, 2014. So that man spent, as the title suggests, an incredible 438 days at sea in his small boat, barricading himself from the scorching sun, catching and eating seabirds with his bare hands and nourishing himself on turtle blood.

"As a writer, you create fantastical landscapes and characters. I'm amazed at writers who can take a premise like a pair of men trapped in a boat at sea, write an entire book about that and still make a compelling read. There's no change of scenery. There's very little dialogue. It's just a man in a boat and it's a whole book that talks about his day-to-day existence. That is such a skill from a writer's perspective."

The Ultimate Survival Manual by Rich Johnson

The Ultimate Survival Manual is written by Rich Johnson and the editors of Outdoor Life. (Weldon Owen)

"This is the Canadian edition of the book, so there's things like 'how to survive a moose attack.' It does talk about bear attacks, which I think is very practical. But here's my thing: I read this and then I can't remember what I had for breakfast, let alone facing off with a grizzly bear someday and going, 'what did that book say to do again?'

"So unless I've got the book with me — and I don't want to be that person that's constantly carrying around my Ultimate Survival Manual everywhere I go — and then I say, 'hold on a second Mr. Grizzly while I just check the chapter that tells me how to deal with you,' I'm afraid I'll forget most of this stuff.

"Having said that, you might be surprised at what you retain, the little bits and pieces that maybe might stick with you."

The Asshole Survival Guide by Robert l. Sutton

Robert l. Sutton is a writer and scholar. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Twitter)

"Like it or not, jerks are all around us — and they are likely not going to change anytime soon. So it's how we learn to deal with them that can make or break our sense of well-being.

"People will treat you the way that you allow yourself to be treated. I think sometimes too many people don't know how to assert themselves or, when they're working with someone who's not pleasant, there's a tendency to see it as personal. I think that's something that I've learned over the years is that it's not about me, because this person is going to be a jerk to the next person if I walk off the job.

"This person is going to be a jerk to the next person that comes along. Once you're able to sort of divorce yourself of that 'it's me' versus 'it's not me,' I think that helps kind of alleviate some of the stress that you sometimes feel about causing this behaviour of this jerk in your office place."

Brian Francis' comments have been edited for clarity and length. 

How to make your own coffee survival sleeve

It happens to all of us. You're on public transportation, the bus comes to a screeching halt, you drop your morning coffee, it ends up hitting the floor and splashing everyone's shoes. Not a good way to start your day or make new friends.

Here's a great DIY craft that guarantees you'll never drop another coffee cup again.

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