I’m a pretty avid reader, have been most of my life, thus people assume I’m good at recommending books, but I’m actually terrible at it. Most of the time I can’t remember the titles of books , authors, or even a general plot line, which is all key for recommending a book. So, I figured as part of my blog I would keep track of all the things I’m reading, why I picked it up, why I liked it (or didn’t), why you may like it and so on, and you can make your own decision from there. The book I’m starting with is Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed.
It’s funny that I happened to be reading this book when I wrote my first blog post because it’s a story about a girl in her twenties, on a journey trying to figure her life out. Not only is this well… what I’m trying to do on the daily, but fits with the vibes of the blog pretty well. Oddly enough, this book doesn’t even really fit with my typical reading list. I’m more of a fiction/sci-fi/classics/short-story/magical realist reader. I stray away from anything in Oprah’s Book Club or labeled as a New York Times Best Seller, because I have these preconceived notions about what it means to be “that” kind of writer that go on “these” kinds of lists. In the past I’ve found books in Oprah’s Book Club too blatantly heart-wrenching, and as far as the New York Times Best Seller list goes… I can’t help but be reminded of the millions of copies of Twilight that have been sold (no offense if you like the series… but… really now). And yet while I was considering this book, I thought to myself, who am I to be some book snob? I’ve never written a best-selling book, Oprah doesn’t want me in her book club. So I took a chance, and it’s definitely something I like and would recommend, although it does have it’s share of heart wrenching moments – you’ve been warned.
My Synopsis: A really terrible thing happens. Cheryl goes a little off the deep end for a few years. Divine intervention. Cheryl decides to sell all her worldly possessions in exchange for a shopping spree at REI and then hikes the Pacific Crest Trail.
What I liked: Aside from liking it because it’s about a lost woman in her 20’s and it takes place in 1995, all millenials are obsessed with the 90’s in case you didn’t know, the writing is actually good, but it’s not convoluted or hard to follow. I think I also just liked Cheryl as a person, her personality comes across well in her writing, and you can sense how hard certain parts of the memoir were for her to write, but in a self-healing way, not a masochistic one. She’s also the kind of writer who really loves reading and loves other writers, not that this characteristic necessarily determines the quality of a writer’s work, but is something I like to see. A large portion of the novel also takes place in the Pacific Northwest, which is where I spent a large chunk of my childhood and Wild took me back to all the beautiful places I had been growing up. It’s funny how time can degrade memories, before reading Wild Oregon was a faint foundation of my memory; the things that I built my past on but that I couldn’t remember anymore. The smell of wet irises. My mom’s Taurus with melted crayon on the backseat. A split tree in our front yard. Oak Creek. Blackberry bushes on the path to school. Playpits full of acorns. Flying kites on a windy beach. This book gave me some of those memories back, and it’s always nice to reminisce about the good things.
What I didn’t like: Some of the nature scenes are a tad extensive; however… the book takes place on the Pacific Crest Trail so this is expected. Reading it made me want to go do something equally crazy or impulsive… but I’ll hold off for now (don’t worry mom).
Recommend: I definitely recommend this book, however I think it would mostly be enjoyed by a female audience. If you’re looking for a good memoir to read, are a lost woman in your 20’s, or have suffered some kind of recent loss this may be a good one for you. Let me know your thoughts!
Below is the book’s back cover, as well as the link to Cheryl’s website where you can find out more about her, and where I got these great photos of her on the PCT.
Live wild, die without regret.
Arty the Alien
At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.