The other day, I was looking for a book to read. I wanted something light and entertaining, but with enough substance to keep me entertained on the train ride I was going to take. I came across Strayed’s Wild, which I had been hesitant to read because of the hype. (It’s a character flaw for an otherwise indiscriminate book lover like me.)
Wild tells the story of twenty-something Cheryl, whose life falls apart after her mom dies from cancer. She sleeps around, gets divorced, sleeps around, even tries heroin. Then she comes across a guidebook for the PCT: the Pacific Crest Trail. Supremely underprepared, she buys whatever she thinks she needs and sets off.
I think one of the reasons I liked the book so much was because I was expecting a “read how I grow as a person while battling the wild outdoors and become one with nature” type of narrative, but it wasn’t that at all. She details her trip, the people she met, the toenails she lost (spoiler: six of them) the time she had to hike through snow and rain and blistering sun. And while she does grow as a person, regains the balance she’d lost when her mom died, there’s no miraculous recovery here or anything. The PCT isn’t as much a karmic experience as much as a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. And Strayed can write–she describes everything that happens with raw honesty but also a lot of humor and grace.
Conclusion? My book snobbery was entirely unjustified, here. (But I’m still not ready to read Eat, Pray, Love.)