Monday, May 26, 2014

summer reading*

Given that a passion for writing is often linked with a zeal for reading I need to put up an asterisk.  I am not an avid reader of books and never have been. 
That’s not to say that when I do read, however, that I don’t read with passion.   

But for a long time, and for no specific reason other than time management, most of the books I’ve read have come off the shelves designated for sports or comedy. And nearly all the rest of my reading has revolved around essays and self help.
This past Christmas, I received a New York Times Bestseller as a gift.  No sports, no comedy and well…everything that’s good is self help I suppose…right? 

So there it was before me: ‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed.  An inspiring memoir unfolded amid a solo long distance hike up the Pacific Crest Trail.  Ironically put in my lap by my fully citified daughter.   
Following the pattern that change often happens so slowly over time that it can’t be discerned, the sports and humor genres were safe in their thrones.  Weeks went by and I didn’t even crack the cover. 

Then on one of those bitter and snowy nights of this thankfully elapsed winter I picked up WILD and found a warm and quiet spot in my basement seated at the end of my futon and nearby a portable heater.  I read the first five chapters and was completely engaged in the style and substance of her writing.
Unfortunately none of the other snowstorms helped me with my time management and WILD sat tranquil on top of a nesting table at the other end of the futon, dog-eared at page seventy five until this weekend.

No mini vacation was in the plans for this Memorial Day.  And I was annoyed with myself that I didn’t go back to finish a book that I didn’t want to put down in the first place.
Once I finally picked it up again, resting it was difficult.  In between washing my car, playing wiffle ball with fav bud and a trip to the Bronx Zoo I obsessively read through the remaining 240 pages of this transformative human adventure. 

Almost always as my mind was taken along this journey pulsating with fear, pain, grief, hunger, and loneliness I was feeling the faith, strength, happiness, contentment and love that Cheryl Strayed so perfectly sewed together.  Most enjoyable is that her forceful hike through the wilderness and her experiences on and off the trail avoid and go far beyond common catch phrases of change and inspiration and instead are hard, honest, simple and real recognitions.
I cannot imagine anyone reading this story while not rooting for Cheryl and amidst the heartache not also rooting for life well lived.

If you are searching for pages that are compelling, pivotal and moving while you place your toes in the sand this summer I would highly recommend picking up a copy of WILD, by Cheryl Strayed.
…And if any of you have summer reading recommendations…please don’t be shy.

© 2014 Christopher’s Views


  1. Thank you, Christopher!! I have just been thinking recently that it was time to find a new book to read and now I have one!!! I do get wrapped up in different projects etc. etc. etc. and I don't read as much as I did years ago when I had a stack of books near my bed and favorite chair and the deck etc, etc, etc. Well, you get the picture!! I am ready for one now and I will go look for this one tomorrow! Hope all is well with you and your family! Have a great summer and enjoy!! So good to see you online this evening!!

  2. have not read this...though i have heard good things about it...will add it to the summer reading kicked my butt this year and most of my reading was lesson plans and academic books for my masters work...but summer is here and i am already deep into the Game of Thrones series and will be ready to mix it up when i finish...

  3. This was a wonderful read - so well-written! I can highly recommend The Fault in our stars by John Green if you haven't already read it.

  4. I gave this to my daughter for Christmas & she also gave it 2 thumbs up, so I'm going to borrow it from her and read it myself. I loved reading Cheryl Strayed as "Sugar" on The Rumpus website, so I'm pretty sure I'll like her book. It helps that you liked it as well.

  5. Thank you for a great review of a book I had not yet heard about. It certainly sounds capturing, and I like it when an author is able to tell their own story so well.

  6. Hello Christopher,

    Well, this is a very powerful recommendation and, from you, we take that as a definite compliment to this author and her work. We have heard of neither and shall be most intrigued to investigate further.

    We read avidly but it is not always the case that one is captured by a story so much that one cannot bear to be parted from it. These are works to be treasured and it sounds as if this book would definitely be in that category.

  7. Sounds like a good book-it is always nice to have recommendations from people on good books to read. I'll give it a try. Mickie :)

  8. I love the shape and substance of your review.

  9. I read WILD a couple summers ago, and then my husband did, and then I gave it to my sister for her birthday. Interestingly, despite my like of this book, I didn't love it. Some part of me felt I'd read it before...and some part of me got a bit tired of her by the end. Yes, that's not the popular opinion, but, well, it's true. That said, I would and could read it again--so apparently it lives in some nether region of my reading skull, wherein I didn't love it, but I liked it plenty.

    If you're into non-fiction ever, I would recommend Nathaniel Philbrick's IN THE HEART OF THE SEA and THE RIVER OF DOUBT: THEODORE ROOSEVELT'S DARKEST JOURNEY by Candice Millard.

    I'll restrain myself and only suggest those two.

  10. Sounds like an interesting book. I go through spells of reading avidly and other times when I am just too busy to stop to read.

  11. I'll give it a coat of looking at. I'm currently reading The Taking of Pelham 123 by John Godey. As a New Yorker, you probably won't want to read this on the train Chris! J