It’s unsurprising, given my former book purchases, (see below) that Amazon has been been trying to persuade me read Cheryl Strayed’s ‘Wild’ for years. And I genuinely don’t know why I didn’t… Well that’s a lie. It was inevitable. I’m such a sucker that I’d get about a quarter of the way through before I started adding hiking socks to (my amazon basket) and wondering if it’s possible, plausible or sane to pack my life into boxes grab a bag and walk by the time I’d hit the final pages, mopped up the deluge of tears that sprung from my eyes if already found an ideal pair of hiking boots and planned not only to allow Andrew McCloy and Andy Robinson to guide a walk from John O’Groats to Lands End but also that Everest was back on my list and a Ladkah was my Indian destination for 2016. I knew why I’d waited. I’d waited until I was safe, rooted, safe enough not to do anything too silly, like pack up and leave
They say books allow you to travel the world from your armchair but books have also forced me out into the world to explore (india) and to reassure my explorations into the unknown(South Korea)
Both Snow Geese by William Fiennes and A Single Swallow by Horatio Clare and books were men decide to follow birds along their migratory paths. Both are clearly far more than ‘Bird books’ and indeed travelogues. I came across both of these books at random, and having now met both William through his work with First Story and Horatio through his work with Guardian Masterclasses, I can concur thatboth are brilliant people and if my original copies hadn’t been burnt in the house fire then I would definitely re-read them. I have yet to decide on my breed of bird*, but when I do I’ll be off on that migratory path
Into the wild (film) I cheat on this one, i know so soon, i’ve not read the book because I find the film so perfectly beautiful. I first saw it when I was living in South Korea, and the beauty of films on South Korean TV is that they repeat them constantly twice a day at the same times for about 2-4 weeks. So I watched it repeatedly for this time. It’s a true story of Christopher McCandless who renounces material possessions to cross the american wilderness under the name Alexander Supertramp. It’s the film that maybe even want to go to the USA and to follow Chris’ journey, if not it’s end. It was definite inspiration for me giving up everything, even if just for six months, back in 2012 and heading to India.
Holy cow by Sarah MacDonald was more of a guide to India for me than My battered Rough Guide. Before Holy Cow I knew I wanted to go to India, however Holy Cow made me realise I needed to go but it also gave me an itinerary. Whilst I didn’t follow this route or partake in alot of what Sarah did, she definitely inspired me. It’s also absolutely hilarious.
I also can’t ignore the ‘Pray’ bit of Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert when it comes to India, for reasons I don’t even feel like I need to explain.
Shaman in stilettos by Anna Hunt. Anna heads to Peru changes her life and now splits her time between London and Peru. Another aspirational tale which can be undoubtedly dangerous when living in a cold flat in grey London in winter…
Meeting Mr Kim: Or how I went to Korea and learned to love Kimchi by Jennifer Barclay. When I signed a job contract for a teaching position in Munsan, South Korea I was clueless about where I was going. This was 2009 and alot has changed since then. As a reader of anything I tried to find pieces on the country I had committed to spend twelve months living in. There was little, I found a great blog called ‘Harrow Kimchi’ which inspired me to write my own terrible blog on Korea. I also found this book by Jennifer Barclay, which was the only other taste I had of what I was expecting, it was my complete security blanket of comfort in the months leading up to that one way plane trip From Gatwick. It’s also published by Summersdale Press, who unknown to me at the time are based in Chichester which is where i grew up!
Others include: The Battersea park road to enlightenment by Isabel Losada, The Yes Man by Danny Wallace, Touching the Void by Jon Krakauer, Dharma Bums and (obv) On the Road by Jack Kerouac, The Year of Saying Yes by Maria Headley, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin and about twelve million other books whose spines i can’t see from where I am.
I wrote this post as part of my attempt in making my ‘Throwback Thursdays’ more of a theme than a one off. Thinking that I was stable and rooted enough to read these crazy tales and stay in cold miserable grey london. Then today happened. And today sucked. Today bought the point of this blog and all of the changes i’ve been trying to make to this horrible, visceral moment of actual vomit, and when all you really need/want to do is get the hell out, then the raw memories of these books than be dangerous… to me, anyhow. So instead this post has turned into ‘Forward Thinking Friday’ instead. I’ve looked over my goals, extended some deadlines and found more options for hiking boots…. just in case because as much as I may have roots; i think they may not be taking to the soil as much as I’d originally thought.
P.S I also found this great piece on Wild here. by Kathryn Schulz called ‘The Walking Cure: talking to Cheryl Strayed about what made Wild work’ originally published in the December 1, 2014 issue of New York Magazine.
*I think it’s the penguin, i’m just not yet ready for the amount of snow involved with following penguins.