Books, Bikes, and Food

Reviews, Recipes, Rides… and some other things, too.

Cheryl Strayed: Wild (2012)


wildThere’s not really a need to tell most people about Wild any more, I don’t think (but I will anyway, because I loved loved loved it! Ha.). Most people have heard of it, possibly because of the film that came out recently with Cheryl Strayed played by Reese Witherspoon. That’s how I first became interested – I’d seen the book in bookshops before but it wasn’t until I saw a review of the film that I became interested. Usually I like to read the book before watching the film, but in this case it was actually the other way around: I became so intrigued by Strayed’s solo hike along the Pacific Crest Trail when I watched the film that I wanted the additional depth of the book.

I’m very glad about that, too, because Wild is an absolutely fascinating account of how a woman finds herself (again). Shaken by her mother’s too early death, Cheryl Strayed’s life gets out of hand. Her stepfather, her siblings, her husband – all the relations that have been her social web lose meaning in the aftermath, or people filter out of her life. Strayed had a very special relationship with her mother and losing her throws her completely off track: she cheats compulsively on her husband, races across the US from one temporary living arrangement to another, and even starts doing heroin.

Then, one day, she sees a guidebook of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) at a shop, and an idea begins to take shape: can she find herself again by hiking the trail all by herself for three months? And so she starts preparing, sells most of her belongings, and sets off. Wild is a journey, not just along the PCT, but towards becoming the woman she once was.

I loved Cheryl Strayed’s voice in Wild: unapologetic, honest, thoughtful, and smart. I really enjoyed the reflections on her life before and after the watershed of her mother’s death, on love, on what it means to be a daughter, a wife, and on physical and mental challenges. I had expected to like it, but not to enjoy it this much, to be honest. Wild made me want to pack up my stuff, hike out for three months, and see what would happen to my personality. Who knows, perhaps I will, one day. Maybe not three months, but a while.


Author: bettinathenomad

Nomad. International Relations geek. Reader. Feminist. Swimmer. Boulderer. Runner. Hiker. Not necessarily in that order.

8 thoughts on “Cheryl Strayed: Wild (2012)

  1. I’m so glad you liked it this much. I got it and was suddenly not sure but it sounds like it’s my kind of book. I like to read her old Dear Sugar columns. They are wonderful. I alos downlaoded the book – Tiny Beautiful Things – or something like that.

    • Yes, I think you would like it, especially if you’ve read her old columns and liked them. I hadn’t read anything by her before and was a bit worried it would turn out to be Coelho-esque (he has a book on someone hiking the Camino de Santiago). But that’s absolutely not the case.

  2. An honest and gritty memoir of coming back from a rough spot can be a great reading experience. Mary Karr’s memoir was like that for me. I’ve thought about reading this one but still have not seen the movie because the casting struck me as odd. Did you enjoyt he movie?

    • I haven’t read that one, but I’ll be sure to take a look!
      As for the movie, I did enjoy it, but in a very different way than the book. The film has some really beautiful scenery (it made my little outdoorsy heart beat faster) and the flashbacks to Strayed’s past are very well done. But it obviously doesn’t have the depth of her writing and her powerful voice. I liked the film (and Reese Witherspoon does a good job), but I liked the book a lot more. The film was really just a teaser for the book.

  3. This sounds infinitely better than Eat, Love, Pray, a book I loathed. Sometimes a book about finding oneself can be far too selfish, but I’m glad you liked this one. And, thanks for visiting me at Dolce Bellezza. xo

    • You’re so right, a book about finding yourself can easily be selfish. I think it depends on who is finding themselves, why, and how ;-). I’ve purposefully stayed away from Eat, Love, Pray. And I’d stayed away from Wild until I’d seen the film. But this one is worth it, trust me.

  4. That’s interesting that seeing the movie made you want to read the book. I had enjoyed the book and thought that the movie did a good job portraying it. But the people I went to see the movie with hadn’t read the book and didn’t like the movie. I thought that perhaps the movie came across better if you had read the book. But maybe it was just that the people I went with didn’t appreciate it!

    • That is interesting! Usually I try to read the book first and then, if I feel like it, watch the film (and I’m usually disappointed). As for the film, as I said it made me hungry for more and I appreciated it because I love the outdoors and hiking, and I was actually pleasantly surprised by it. I didn’t really think the book was for me until I’d seen the movie.
      The book definitely enhanced the film in this case, at least for me.

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