I like adventure books. I know, I know, the girl who prefers the city to the country, can’t stand hiking and generally plays it safe when it comes to taking adventurous risks likes books in which people are exploring unknown territories, going into unknown lands and generally doing all kinds of crazy things. It’s strange, I get it. But it leads to some pretty good reads.
I’ve been meaning to read The Lost City of Z by David Grann for quite some time. At my local Barnes and Nobles, it is perpetually put out on the best seller and must read tables. It sits next to A Short History of Nearly Everything (which I MUST read soon!) and Into The Wild, tempting me with awesome tales of adventure. There was, however, always something else. It never came into my mind at the proper moment. Then I had nothing to read and it was available on the library, so I read.
The Lost City of Z describes Grann’s journey trying to find the remains of an ancient society in the amazon. He follows in the footsteps of Percy Fawcett, an explorer and member of the Royal Geography Society in the early twentieth century, who met a mysterious end during his search for said lost society. Grann ultimately takes a journey down to Brazil to tramp through the amazon, meet with Indians and see the land that consumed Fawcett and countless others following in his footsteps first hand.
It was rough going at first, I’m not going to lie. The book starts off as an interesting mixture between a travel narrative and a biography. While I love biographies, I find travel writing much more easy to get into. The constant flip-flop between the two writing styles that occurs during the beginning of the book made it quite the struggle for me to get into the story.
Luckily, however, the two narratives unite about a third of the way in and, by that point, you will be thrilled to hear the exposition on the life of Fawcett.
What made The Lost City of Z such a standout story was how Grann used both Fawcett’s and his own journey to describe a phenomenon that was larger than an anthropological, explorational or archeological obsession. Instead, the book discusses the psychological concept of the search for something that doesn’t exist but consumes us anyway. This plays into every aspect of our daily lives, whether or not it involves a hike through inhospitable lands.
If you’re interested in travel writing, history, adventure stories or just want a little philosophical examination of human motivations, you’re sure to find The Lost City of Z a truly satisfying read.
Do you like to go hiking? What is your idea of a perfect outdoorsy vacation?