When I get into a pattern with books, I want to keep reading. This book fits perfectly into my nonfiction/outdoors/adventure roll. Until a couple of months ago, I had no idea that these categories were even appealing to me. Perhaps reading A Walk in the Woods set off some long-hidden outdoor adventurer in me?
I doubt I’ll be setting off on a hiking trip any time soon, but for the mean time I’m enjoying being an arm chair adventurer.
And okay, I saw the movie. But that was in high school yeah, five years ago…
It’s difficult to know where to start with this book. It doesn’t pose an obvious parallel to my life, it doesn’t invite me to ruminate on nature (see above comment re: hiking) and I don’t exactly have any great life lessons to contribute. Except for making sure to floss.
The reason I want to tell you all about this book is because it targets something beyond one man’s ill-fated journey. Though there is a narrative that ties the book together, Krakauer doesn’t get caught up in the story. Rather, Christopher McCandless’s journey brings larger questions into the picture, about society, about how the individual can fit into society…I could go on and on.
What stays with the reader are the powerful relationships, emotions and ideas that inspired and sustained McCandless’s vagabonding years. Dedication, thought and compassion all spring to mind as words to use to classify them, but the book defies generalizations. The reader is introduced to the idea of the wilderness throughout history, demonstrating that there is some primal desire to want to be one with the land.
After finishing the book, I’m left to wonder what my initial attraction was, because the way in which I look at the entire situation is changed. There are no easy words to describe it, no easy way to talk about it. The book invites you to think not only about a given situation, but also about yourself. You may not be heading into the Alaskan bush to find yourself, but the moments spent alone when reading force you reflect. On society. On where you fit into society.
And any book that makes you think like that is positively first rate in my opinion.
What’s a book you’ve recently read? Next on your must read list?