Book Review: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

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In a quest to read as many books as possible this year, I’ve been making my way through the unreasonable number of library books I checked out a few weeks ago. I just finished Wild by Cheryl Strayed, and loved it so much I felt compelled to write about it. I generally read a lot, but I almost never read non-fiction. Probably 2% of the books I’ve read in the last five years were non-fiction. I always think I should branch out to a wider variety of genres, but then when I end up at a bookstore or a library, I feel the urge to get sucked back into a colorful world that isn’t real. I realize that I am very likely keeping myself from exposure to the colorful world that is real by limiting myself in terms of genre. Anyway, this was the eleventh book I read this year, and the only one that was a true story. Based on my positive experience, I will have to begin reading more memoirs in the rest of the year.

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Photo originally from Cheryl Strayed

I saw the movie adaptation of Wild when it was in theaters, and I enjoyed it, but didn’t feel an extreme connection to the protagonist or the subject matter. When I read this book, though, I felt incredibly attached to Cheryl’s experiences and struggles. This book contained something very important that I sometimes find that adult literature lacks: triumph. Wild tells the story of Cheryl Strayed’s heartbreak over the loss of her mother and the end of her marriage, and follows her literal and physical journey to try to get back the best part of herself. I really appreciated reading a coming-of-age story that wasn’t about an 18-year-old. It reminded me that we’re always growing and changing, even into adulthood. (Cheryl is 26 during her hike I think).

I believe one of the main reasons this book resonated with me now, as opposed to when I watched the film several years ago, is my recent personal journey towards minimalism. While Wild is primarily about Cheryl’s attempt to find herself, it also shows a modern woman who lives with an exceptionally small amount of possessions for a long period of time. An adventurous survival story like this one reminds me of just how few physical items we actual need to survive. Without the comforts of modern life like air conditioning and a variety of outfit choices, Cheryl’s life during her three-month hike becomes much more about her relationship with others and with herself than about her relationship to physical objects. It really helped put my relationship with things into perspective.

Since reading this book, my husband and I have already planned two camping trips coming up in the next couple of months. I’ve become very inspired, and I want to hold onto this inspiration and nurture it with plants and fresh air.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Are there any books you’ve read that have put your life into a new perspective for you? I’d love to read some recommendations!

 

Happy reading,

Spencer

 

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