With tornadoes locally and hurricanes on our coastlines, the thought of disaster striking close to home can make us think about how we might react in such situations. In Amanda Ripley’s new book The Unthinkable, she interviews survivors of the 9/11 attacks, airplane disasters and natural disasters in order to see if there are common lessons that we can all learn to be able to face a disaster and survive. For some, fate will quickly decide life or death, but for many others, their decisions and actions will decide their survival. The main idea I took away from reading this book is that we all have the potential to be survivors and we can all do more to be better prepared and more aware of the situations that surround us. Ripley’s descriptions of normal human responses in disaster situations are fascinating–delay, part of the denial phase, is a common response, as is waiting for instructions but panic is surprisingly rarely seen. Be prepared is the theme of this book–pay attention to emergency exits and instructions on an airplane, be prepared for smoke and heat in a fire and familarize yourself with building exits, and think ahead about procedures to follow if you are in an emergency situation–don’t rely upon government agencies to be there with assistance. With her insights into the psychology of disaster response along with intense interviews with disaster survivors, Ripley offers a fascinating look at how to increase our chances to survive the unthinkable.