So, here’s the next Reading Group post- sorry it’s taken ages, we had a while to wait until the next meet!
This month’s book was: Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I hope you enjoyed the novel if you read along too, or at least found it interesting to read!
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.
I don’t often read autobiographies/ memoirs, so this was a nice change for me! This is not a book about hiking as such, but more about the emotions and experiences Cheryl went through when undertaking this enormous challenge. None of us in our book group had read this before and we all have varying interests, genre-wise.
The novel had a great mix of her internal thoughts and feelings, description about her surroundings along with her troubled past which led to her ‘breakdown’. We all felt like we understood her a lot more by the end of the novel, although there was still a lot of decisions that she had made that frustrated us! However I can’t imagine the state of mind she must have been in after losing her mother, so I don’t know how I could ever react in that same situation, and this feeling was echoed by most of the group.
In some ways I really admire Cheryl Strayed in it and in other ways I really dislike her. I have massive respect that she had the balls to go out and do this with next to no training or knowledge about the trail (which in all honesty is pretty stupid), and I can’t imagine the pain she must have gone through losing her mother and how that must have affected the decisions she made. However, I really felt sorry for her ex-husband, who seemed so lovely and who she really seemed to treat quite badly, and this made me less sympathetic towards her at some points. I also wanted to scream at her for a certain point in the novel when she becomes addicted to a substance with her then-boyfriend – it just felt SO STUPID, but hey – again I can’t imagine her frame of mind at the time what with everything she’d experienced.
This wasn’t a particularly fast-paced novel but it kept me wanting to read on despite the slower pace. A few others in the group felt it was a little slow/ devoid of action at times but I didn’t struggle to continue reading it at all personally. I feel like sometimes it’s nice to read something that doesn’t feel the need to rush the reader through its narrative. Even the more mundane descriptions of her bag and hiking gear were concise enough that you didn’t feel bored reading them.
I’d like to see the film version to see how they’ve adapted it. A few people also said they’d be really interested in seeing the landscapes that we read about in the book, as it’s hard to picture them properly sometimes, so I might try and get hold of it soon to watch!
I would certainly recommend Wild to most people I know, whether they have an interest in hiking and/or the Pacific Coast Trail or not, as I’m not hugely interested in either yet really enjoyed reading it.
The resounding conclusion from everyone else in the book group was “an enjoyable, entertaining read!”
Edit: We decided to change Next Month’s Book as Otrich had some themes that might upset some members of our group.
So the next month’s book group choice will now be: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
Paulo Coelho’s enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and inspiring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest.
No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within.
Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts
Have you read either of these novels? If so, what did you think?