I just finished reading “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed and am totally blown away by her writing! I didn’t start out this impressed. After seeing the book on the NY Times best sellers list for months, decided to pick it up when I stopped by our library a couple of weeks back. Read the first several pages, and was quite repulsed by her irresponsible and reckless lifestyle in the wake of her mother’s death, and figured that there’s no way I was going to finish reading this book.
I have come to realize this thing about myself. I need some visceral connection to an author or a book or a main character in the book to keep my interest. I mean, Gretchen Rubin, who seems to be an uptight, high strung, frequently snacking, perennially freezing lady is someone I can totally relate to (even little N remarked the other day – “she sounds totally like you, mommy!). Interestingly, GR’s word for this year is “lighten up”, which as you know, was my word last year. Not that I am saying she got the idea from me, just that we seem to be kindred souls, which makes me enjoy her writings and podcasts (even though the rest of the family thinks I am bonkers). You also know that I am, ahem, careful with the purse strings. One of my friends recommended “Confessions of a Shopaholic” by Sophie Kinsella. I could not STAND reading more than a few pages. I was utterly mortified with the ridiculous spendthrift ways of the main character, Becky Bloomwood. I soooo wanted to shake her and tell her to stop being an irresponsible moron, and first put money into her 401(k) (or whatever they do for retirement in the UK). Bridget Jones, my kinda girl. Jo from Little Women, two thumbs up (except that she really should have married Laurie and not that old Mr. Bhaer). You get the idea. Either it’s clearly my kind of book, or it’s not. Yes, I am quite opinionated (but you knew that already, didn’t you?).
So. The tale of a woman solo hiking through the Pacific Crest Trail starting from the Mojave Desert all the way to Washington, especially one who spent a couple of years before that indulging in cringeworthy self-destructive behavior, just didn’t seem like one that would hold my interest for v. long. Did a quick google search on Cheryl Strayed and learnt that Strayed is not her real name (that would have been too much of a coincidence, no?), but one that she chose for herself after her mother’s death and her divorce – realizing that she was totally astray. Plus, saw that she’s a fellow Virgo and my curiosity was piqued. And, as I thought about it, I understood her sense of profound desperation and loss after losing a much-loved parent. After all, losing Appa is what drove me to start writing my blog. Decided that I have enough commonality with Cheryl Strayed and hiking the PCT, and started plowing through the book. After a few dozen pages, I was totally hooked. Her writing is mind-blowing, raw, honest, straight-from-the-heart in a way that few authors would dare to write. I felt especially haunted by the last few lines of her book (I won’t quote them here, will let you enjoy them when you read the book yourself). Planning to watch the movie in the near future (because, let’s face it, I am not going to hike the PCT anytime soon).
Hope Reese Witherspoon doesn’t disappoint!