During some downtime in Big Sur while waiting for our friends to arrive, I cracked open “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed and promptly fell down a delirious and delicious rabbit hole in which I couldn’t stop reading. (My boyfriend practically had to pry the book from my hands in order for me to pause, and I snuck back into our tent several times to sneak in additional pages. I still have the remnants of a slightly severe sunburn from sitting still in the sun for so long.)
You may remember my effusive report of Strayed’s other book, “Tiny Beautiful Things,” which is mostly me announcing its brilliance. Well, the same applies for “Wild.” The book possesses that same signature Strayed warmth, humor and passion — that same brilliance.
In “Tiny Beautiful Things,” you receive provocative snippets of Strayed’s tumultuous life, but only as they pertain to the advice-seeker’s personal story and request for guidance. In “Wild,” however, you get Strayed’s full and unbridled background. As you follow the author’s journey on the arduous Pacific Crest Trail through California and Oregon, dots begin to connect.
You understand how Strayed was able to help the disconsolate, the confused and the heartbroken in her letters — how she was able to answer the questions they couldn’t (or at least state the answers they knew all along, but didn’t have the heart or courage to admit). You realize just how vast is and was her devastation when her mother passed away and how easy it can be for things to fall apart. And you recognize just how resilient and brave and strong a human can be, if he or she wills it.
Additional, quicker reading (accessible via the web!):
- Learning How to Exert Self-Control (The New York Times) – Because I personally have no idea how. Seriously, I assume I would have been one of the kids who gobbles down two cookies within the first few minutes. What about you? Do you think you would be able to wait?
- Love People, Pleasure (The New York Times) – I have read this article a few times since my sister first emailed me its link. The really hit close to home… I may return to this piece again and ramble about it on this blog soon.
- Stepping Out: Living the Fitbit Life (The New Yorker) — My coworkers and I share a love of David Sedaris and his inimitable wit, and they recommended yesterday that I give the article a read. Prepare for several good chuckles.
On a separate note (but still related): The Last Bookstore in Downtown Los Angeles has been on my to-visit list for quite some time, and I finally paid that overdue visit a few weeks ago (and again this past Sunday, after “snacking” on tacos at Gusiados). Your turn! It’s a spectacular, two-story with a soaring ceiling, eclectic decor and bookshelves encircled by even more bookshelves. They also sell a large collection of records, and there is a cool artwork gallery on the second floor, along with a variety of unique shops. Used books, priced very reasonably, are mixed with brand-new copies. I brought home a hefty stack of books (just started reading “Sellevision by Augusten Burroughs”), so more recommendations to come.