In Life After Death, Damien Echols recounts his life spent on Death Row, for 18 years, following a wrongful conviction for murder. Like many young men dismissed by society and rebelling against authority, Echols was a teen who grew up in poverty and remained on the outside of acceptable society, wearing black and with long hair–characteristics which drew the attention of local police. When three young boys were murdered, Echols and 2 friends were arrested, charged and convicted of the crime. They became known as the West Menphis Three. Echols describes his life on death row–the lack of humanity and privacy, deplorable living conditions and cruel jailers. His strength and his ability to rise above his circumstances are nothing short of amazing. Echols studied and learned about many religions, finding strength and solace in Zen Buddhism, spending many hours meditating in his cell. HIs spirituality and his love of reading helped him to survive the isolation and desolation of prison. The case drew the attention of several celebrities following a documentary made by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, titled West of Memphis, and the publicity created a demand for the case to be re-opened. Echols and the other two men were released from prison in August of 2011. This is a remarkable story of not only survival but of courage and dignity under the most dehumanizing conditions and raises many questions about the harsh treatment of prison inmates and about the death penalty itself.
To Heaven and Back: A Doctor’s Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life Again: A True Story - This memoir by Dr. Mary C. Neal, an orthopaedic surgeon, is a fascinating account of her spiritual journey. An outdoor enthusiaist, Dr. Neal was kayaking in southern Chile when her boat became wedged under water and she drowned. She describes this event as one of the greatest gifts she was ever given. Mary describes her experience of death and then the immediate soul experience of being greeted by human spirits sent by God to guide her on her journey. The vivid recollections are fascinating and uplifting as she shares how God has used her experiences in the subsequent years. This extremely gifted and educated scientist and mother answers many questions that people have asked about her unique experience throughout the book and in a Q and A section at the conclusion of the book.
by Susan Withee, Adult Services Manager
I’m a pretty eclectic reader overall with interests that bounce around through much of the Dewey Decimal system and make forays into all sorts of fiction. But an ongoing and constant reading interest of mine is books about women’s lives, which have fascinated me since I climbed the stairs to the Children’s Room in the old Carnegie Library and checked out Abigail Adams: A Girl of Colonial Days. Since then I’ve continued to read anything from collections of women’s journals and letters, to books of humorous and true confessions, to biographies and personal memoirs, to social and cultural history. Here are some interesting books that I’ve enjoyed in the past year about women and their lives and history.
The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure. Author McClure, a young woman with a very understanding boyfriend and a childhood obsession with writer Laura Ingalls Wilder, set out to revisit all the joy she experienced from the Little House series by traveling to locales from the books, researching the real Laura’s story, and experimenting in her own apartment with Laura-esque chores like grinding wheat and churning butter. Reminiscent of Sarah Vowell’s wacky and humorous travelogues through American history, McClure’s experiences and commentary are often hilarious and wry, and her observations on girlhood both in Laura’s time and now are penetrating and poignant. A fun and unexpectedly touching book.
The Magic Room: A Story About the Love We Wish for Our Daughters by Jeffrey Zaslow. A series of vignettes taken from a bridal shop owned and operated by three generations of strong, hard-working women in small-town rural Michigan, this is a tender, sympathetic look at the changing nature of weddings, marriages, and families since the shop opened during the Great Depression. The Magic Room is a wonderful book about ordinary women and the dreams, joys, and sorrows they encounter and share. (I especially recommend it if you, like me, are a secret devotee of the TV show Say Yes to the Dress!)
When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present by Gail Collins. Starting out in 1960, when women still needed their husband’s permission to get a credit card and single women were routinely denied home mortgages (if they were even allowed to apply), this book tells the amazing story of five decades of nearly unimaginable social change in the lives of American women. For women and men of a certain age, this is a startling reminder of all they have lived through and witnessed first-hand, and for those young women who take the changes of the past 50 years for granted it’s a sobering revelation. Collins’ writing style is conversational, anecdotal, and witty and this social history is a page-turner – absorbing, enjoyable, and enlightening.
Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman. Born into the ultra-orthodox, insular Satmar Hasidic sect, Deborah Feldman grew up under strict traditional religious and social customs that governed every aspect of everyday life, but she struggled to meet the group’s expectations and live the life prescribed for girls and women. Her first rebellion was to secretly visit a public library some distance from the Satmar neighborhood and read voraciously from secular and popular works in English. Her final attempt to conform, an arranged marriage, was a disaster, and with the birth of her own daughter, Deborah began planning her escape from the community. This is a fascinating look at a mysterious and secretive group; an absorbing and suspenseful personal memoir.
Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen. Pulitzer-prize-winning columnist and novelist Quindlen looks back on her life from the milestone of her 60th birthday, and makes observations and offers perspectives in her trademark style – candid, astute, funny, acerbic, and touching. Of parenthood she writes, “Being a parent is not transactional. We do not get what we give. It is the ultimate pay-it-forward endeavor: We are good parents not so they will be loving enough to stay with us but so they will be strong enough to leave us.” About her aging body she writes, “I’ve finally recognized my body for what it is: a personality-delivery system, designed expressly to carry my character from place to place, now and in the years to come. It’s like a car, and while I like a red convertible or even a Bentley as well as the next person, what I really need are four tires and an engine.” Amen, Sister. This book was a delight.
True Believers by humorist Joe Queenan is a great read for football season. If you are a rabid sports fan (you know who you are), you will appreciate this book. Queenan opens his book by recounting his visits to a therapist for his sports addiction problem. He and the therapist quickly reach an impasse when Queenan can’t understand how he can care more about the fate of the rain forest than that of the Philadelphia 76erers. This book had me laughing from the get go, because I could relate to many of Queenan’s sentiments. There is a particularly hilarious chapter on front-running fans, (whom I also find annoying). While Queenan states that these fans have the right to be front runners, he does not believe that “such individuals should ever be married, befriended, employed, feted, consulted, or fed . . . . .Attention, marriageable females: If you go through your Los Angelino boyfriend’s closet and find a Chicago Bulls jersey, call off the wedding. If he betrayed the Lakers, he will have no trouble betraying you.”
There is also a great chapter on parents bringing up their kids to be fans. Any parent who has tried to take their young kids to a sporting event will appreciate Queenan’s account. His theory is that concession lines are long at major league baseball games because nobody really wants to watch more than six innings or so of baseball anyway. And, if you take your kids to the concessions three times during the game to get snacks, you might actually make it to the end of the game! He decries those “mentally ill” parents who bring their own snacks thus ensuring they will only make it to the bottom of the fifth before having to leave. If you don’t mind laughing at yourself or fellow fans, give this one a try!
Every day life may never seem every day again. Life in Southern Florida with Mama is never every day stuff. When Bailey’s father, through his fourth wife, leaves them his 1958 Porsche, in original condition, Mama wants to put it out to pasture with the tractors and lawnmowers. Instead, she takes the screen off the back porch and parks it there, never to be moved again.
When Mama isn’t feeling well and Bailey convinces her to go to the Instant Care Facility to see the Doctor. Mama was really impressed with the curb side service and easy remedy. What Bailey didn’t know was that it was the three butchers from the grocery store who gave Mama the advice.
Then there are other family members that add to the mix, like Aunt Belle, who tames an alligator by giving it dead chickens for treats. When a cousins fiance’s family is coming for Thanksgiving, Bailey and her sister try to rid the house of stuff, but Mama is not overly willing to have her house cleared out. Mama Makes Up Her Mind keeps the smiles coming as you read about this family’s southern living.
Every year a handful of Kansas book lovers have the difficult job of choosing their favorite books written by Kansans or about Kansas. This group of representatives from the Kansas Center for the Book, choose a list of the best books published the previous year by Kansas authors or about our state and then forward this list to the State Librarian for the final selections.
They must consider many titles including fiction, nonfiction, adult and young adult books. In early July the 2012 list was announced. Yesterday, the winning authors were awarded medals at the Kansas Book Festival in Topeka. The following titles were chosen as the winners of the seventh Kansas Notable Book list.
8 Wonders of Kansas! Guidebook by Marci Penner
The 8 Wonders of Kansas Guidebook is a 272-page book filled with over 800 beautiful photos of the 216 entries in the 8 Wonders of Kansas contests. Author Marci Penner has created another useful tour guide to help us enjoy our state’s highlights.
The Afterlives of Trees by Wyatt Townley
This new collection of poems by Wyatt Townley uses trees as a motif to explore the theme of transformation.
Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Candace Fleming
This is the thrilling story of America’s most celebrated female flyer, Amelia Earhart, who was born in Atchison. It is told alternating between Amelia’s life from childhood up until her last flight and the exhaustive search for her and her missing plane. Level: middle graders.
Bent Road: A Novel by Lori Roy
Arthur Scott tries to escape the race riots of 1967 Detroit by returning with his family to the tiny Kansas town he left 25 years ago after the violent death of his sister.
Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard
For a man forced into the presidency, the legacy of James Garfield extended far beyond his lifetime, Destiny of the Republic revisits his meteoric rise within the military and government with meticulous research and intimate focus.
Doc: A Novel by Mary Doria Russell
Dr. John Henry Holliday, an ailing Southern gentleman, arrives in Dodge City with a prostitute who helps him find high-stakes poker games that will support them both in high style. The unlikely friendship of Doc Holliday and a fearless lawman named Wyatt Earp begins here.
The Door in the Forest by Roderick Townley
Roderick Townley spins a magical tale of lies and truths, of secrets kept and secrets revealed in this adventure story for youth or the adventurous at heart.
Liar’s Moon by Elizabeth C. Bunce
One of Kirkus Blog’s Favorite YA Novels of 2011, Liar’s Moon is a sequel to StarCrossed. These are high-fantasy, forbidden magic with castles, prisons, poisons and passion.
My Ruby Slippers: The Road Back to Kansas by Tracy Seeley
At 39, settled in San Francisco, a midlife crisis shakes Seely to her roots — she tells the story of a search for Kansas roots, the tale of a woman with an impassioned if vague sense of mission: to find the meaning of home.
The Northern Cheyenne Exodus in History and Memory
by James N. Leiker and Ramon Powers
The Northern Cheyenne in 1878, attempted to flee from Indian Territory back to their Montana homeland. This important event in American Indian history is equally important in the history of towns like Oberlin, Kan., where Cheyenne warriors killed more than 40 settlers and in turn suffered great losses through violent encounters with the U.S. Army.
Osa and Martin: For the Love of Adventure by Kelly Enright
Legendary filmmakers and adventurers Osa and Martin Johnson, via film, brought the jungles of Africa and the South Pacific to millions of Americans from the 1910s to 1940s. Kelly Enright brings this amazing couple fully to life, chronicling their journey from a honeymoon among cannibals to safari camps in lion country.
Prairie Fire: A Great Plains History by Julie Courtwright
This traces the history of both natural and intentional fires from Native American practices to the current use of controlled burns as an effective land management tool, along the way sharing the personal accounts of people whose lives have been touched by fire.
Rode by Thomas Fox Averill
This is the imagined story behind Jimmy Driftwood’s ballad “Tennessee Stud”, a story of the legendary exploits of the greatest horse that ever lived and his owner.
Send Me Work: Stories by Katherine Karlin
In this collection of short stories, Karlin offers rare insight into the place of work in the lives of women.
Tapped Out: Rear Naked Chokes, the Octagon, and the Last Emperor: An Odyssey in Mixed Martial Arts by Matthew Polly
At the age of 36, author Matthew Polly decides to immerse himself in Mixed Martial Arts training and competition in order to write a book about it.
This is the only honor for Kansas books by Kansans, highlighting our lively contemporary writing community and encouraging readers to enjoy some of the best writing of the authors among us.
In this true life adventure tale, Colin Angus and two of his friends decide that it would be a great idea to raft down the entire length of the Amazon River from its source to where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean. The Amazon River is the second longest river in the world, and the largest by volume, so this was no easy task. Their journey started on the Peruvian coast where they began trekking across the desert to find the source of the Amazon in the Andes Mountains. Before even setting foot on the river, their lives were in danger of ending from dehydration as they realize their 50 year old maps are not entirely accurate. As they near the wild Apurimac River, the start of their rafting, countless locals warn them against embarking on this quest. The Apurimac drops from an elevation of 17,700 feet to 4,900 feet in only 37 miles, and other adventurers before them have perished in its violent waters. After finally beginning their trek down the Apurimac, they come close to drowning themselves on only their second day on the river. The river isn’t the only source of danger, however. Part of the river runs through areas which are known for harboring terrorists and at one point they even come under fire from bandits. At least two thirds of the book takes place in Peru, so there are bits and pieces about Peruvian history and culture that were fun to learn. If you like adventure or travel tales, give Amazon Extreme a try.
Bill Geist, a roving correspondent for CBS News, goes Way Off the Road in his tribute to quirky places and people in rural America. Never Mean-spirited and always respectful, Geist finds the humor in off-beat and odd celebrations and occupations. From a 92 year old paper boy who delivers the paper by airplane (and has had 5 heart attacks!) to the Iowa town that celebrates the summer solstice with a festival built around the sunset over the railroad tracks, or from the Prairie Dog vacumers in Colorado to the UFO believers in New Mexico, we meet people and places that make the reader laugh out loud. Filled with charming and interesting stories, this book will inspire you to turn off of the interstates and explore the places in America that are unique, fascinating and more than just a bit eccentric.
Dan Zevin is a stay-at-home dad in Brooklyn. There is nothing earth shattering in his story of taking care of his kids, walking the dog, trying to make a living, and wondering if his life is headed in the right direction. That may be the true gift of his writing, the ability to take the everyday struggles that all parents face and show the humor. Dan Gets a Minivan won’t provide you with any helpful advice, but it will make you laugh out loud – at Zevin, but also a bit at yourself. A must read for anyone who has children.
Lately we’re hearing about a great deal of local interest in The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. In fact, this newspaper recently ran Chris Banner’s review of that 2010 title. Readers who have read the book know that on one level, it can be approached as the personal account of a woman’s death as a result of cervical cancer. On another level, there’s the phenomenal extent to which her cancer cells have been used in the last sixty years to combat other ailments like polio. On yet another level, there are the inevitable ethical questions about the harvesting and the sharing of human tissue without patient consent. Perhaps it’s the last concern, the ethical treatment of patients, which accounts for so many strong reader reactions about the book’s contents.
I just finished reading this book, and I found that I really struggled to finish it. It’s not that it was badly written or that the content was dry; in fact, the book was fascinating in a gut-wrenchingly painful way. I struggled with the revelation of the many awful situations it conveyed. The appalling series of treatments to which Henrietta, a black woman from Baltimore, was subjected (the radium implants and the heavy doses of radiation that she suffered) were shocking. The fact that various tissue samples (designated as “HeLa cells”) were harvested without the family’s permission during her autopsy, let alone the manner in which the samples were shared and later sold commercially, was repugnant. And the gradual awareness on the part of the Lacks family that Henrietta’s tissue had attained a state of “immortality” was truly disheartening.
Why the local attention some two years after initial publication?
The K-State Book Network, the all-university reading program, selected this title as the 2012-2013 school year common reader. Committee members made this choice based on the book’s variety of discussion topics and its easy availability in different formats, among other criteria. The university kickoff ceremony was held early last spring, but there is ample time to attend one of several book-related events yet to occur.
One such event is scheduled for Thursday, September 20th, at 7:00 p.m., in the K-State Union Ballroom. Attendees are invited to share a visit with the Lacks family. Another event is scheduled for Wednesday, October 10th, at 7:00 p.m., in the K-State Union Forum Hall. At that time, guest speaker Yvonne Reid, PhD, Manager and Scientist in Cell Culture Contracts, will address the aspects of biological research impacted by HeLa cells. Her address is entitled “HeLa Cells and Biomedical Research: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” A third event will take place on Tuesday, October 30th, at 7:00 p.m., in the Hale Library Hemisphere Room. The topic for the evening is “Speaking the Silences: Women and Race in Kansas.” Each of these events is free and open to the public.
Manhattan Public Library is also hosting a related event. The library auditorium has been reserved on Tuesday, September 18th, at 7:00 p.m., for a discussion of the book. Dr. Irma O’Dell, Senior Associate Director for Administration/ Associate Professor of the School of Leadership Studies at Kansas State University, will be the facilitator for the evening. This event is also free and open to the public.
If you have not yet read this worthy book, you still have time to do so. Manhattan Public Library has multiple copies of the Skloot book in a variety of formats. Beyond print copies, also available in large print format, there are books on cd and a loanable book kit available for book groups. MPL also has website links that will allow cardholders to download both audiobooks and ebooks of the title.
Again, this is not enjoyable reading, but in an age of explosive medical advancements and ethical dilemmas about sharing information and tissue samples, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a necessary reminder of human dignity and responsibility. I would strongly encourage you to explore this book and to actively seek answers to your own questions about the contents.
by Dave Ihlenfeld
You’ve heard of Oscar Mayer hotdogs, but have you seen an Oscar Mayer Wienermobile and did you get a wiener whistle? For some reason I missed out on meeting up with the Hotdoggers that took a year out of their schedules for the privilege of driving a 27 foot long hotdog around the country. Dave humorously shares his teams experience as they drive this monstrosity of a Wienermobile around the country. One incident happened at a Walmart store: three of the four team members made the decision to run into the store. Dave thought they were nuts, so he decided to just walk in. Well, after returning to the mobile innumerable times to get yet one more person a wiener whistle, he decided they weren’t quite so nutty after all. He did finally make it into the store. They traveled California, Louisiana at Mardi Gras (where Dave ended up in jail), and finally Dave finished his year with one other team member traveling over seas to drive the Wienermobile in Germany and Italy. Dog Days is an exciting action fulled journey you’ll not soon forget.
The long hot days from late July through August have been known as the Dog Days of summer since ancient times, when the proximity of Sirius, the Dog Star, to the sun at that time of year was believed to cause of the hottest days of the year and all the evil thereof. This year our Dog Days have set new records for high temperatures and duration, causing us grave discomfort and occasionally short tempers, so this August especially is a good time to pour a tall, cold drink and read something short, light, and quirky. Try something from this list of books that take unexpected subjects and make them delightfully entertaining.
Just My Type: A Book About Fonts by Simon Garfield. For over 500 years the printed word has surrounded us, usually without our appreciating the artistry and graphic nuances of the typefaces we see. With the arrival of the IBM Selectric typewriter and its revolutionary changeable typeballs in 1961, this began to change. Suddenly, an ordinary individual was able to change the typeface on a document at will and creative sensibilities were piqued, although at the time our choices were limited to such sober typefaces as Courier or Prestige Elite. Just over 20 years later, Steve Jobs marketed the first MacIntosh computer with a selection of typeface choices and suddenly “font” became a household word and the creation of new and more evocative typefaces exploded. Now there are fonts for every emotion and message. We all have our favorite classic fonts – Helvetica, Goudy Old Style, Albertus – and some fonts have acquired the stature of pop cultural icons. There are even a few fonts – Papyrus, Brush Script, Comic Sans – that have caused the occasional online “font war” or have been reviled for misuse or overuse. This amusing and enlightening book will introduce you to the social history of type design and the words we see all around us.
In Praise of Chickens: A Compendium of Wisdom Fair and Fowl by Pulitzer-prize nominee Jane S. Smith offers a sublime escape into poultry lore galore. A bright and sunny book of chicken history and trivia with excerpts and quotations from Aristotle to Twain, filled with antique illustrations and handsome portraits of chicken breeds, this small book is a summer delight.
In London Under: The Secret History Beneath the Streets, Peter Ackroyd, prolific author, historian, and biographer, tells tales of the thousands of years of history buried beneath the streets of London. Underground rivers, forgotten prisons, buried monasteries, ancient sewers and canals, Roman galleys, Anglo-Saxon graves, hideouts, tunnels and shelters, creatures of the underworld real and surreal – all appear in their own time and context in this absorbing and atmospheric book.
Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences by Kitty Burns Florey. If you’re a Person of a Certain Age like me, you may remember diagramming sentences on the blackboard for your sixth or seventh grade teacher (requiescat in pace, Miss Johnston of MJHS). Diagramming was introduced to American schools in 1877 as a standard technique for teaching grammar and it endured through most of the 20th Century before being largely abandoned. Sentence diagramming was a way to visually depict the structure of sentences, a cross between puzzle-solving and graphic design. It was an illuminating and effective way to learn grammar and an oddly satisfying mental exercise. In this charming and humorous book, author Florey revisits her own memories of sentence diagramming and the challenges, elegance, and clarity offered by this forgotten skill.
Good to Go: A Guide to Preparing for the End of Life by Jo Myers. What?! A book about dying that’s quirky and light? Yes, and it’s fun to read as well. Myers offers practical advice and a basic template for preparing for the end of life, your own or another’s, with acceptance and love. With chapter headings like “Making an Ash of Yourself” and “Let’s Put the Fun Back in Funeral,” this book offers reassurance and encouragement with tenderness and humor.
It is the quietest time of year in Manhattan. Most of the summer activities have come to an end and we still have some time before the energy of returning students and school starting up. The recent heat has caused us all to be a bit wilted. A good laugh can help you through the end-of-summer doldrums so you can be cheerful when all our new residents come pouring in.
You might have heard of Lisa Scottoline’s suspense novels. What is less well known is that she partners with her daughter to write nonfiction that will crack you up. Her latest, Best Friends, Occasional Enemies: the Lighter Side of Life as a Mother and Daughter talks about the close and challenging relationships in families, while making sure to see the humor in life. Another nonfiction favorite is Bill Bryson, known best for his travel memoirs. Whether he’s on a trip across the pond in Notes from a Small Island or traveling back in time with The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid Bryson’s work is known for causing annoyance to those near readers because of the constant chuckling and the repeated phrase “You’ve got to hear this.”
Romance is a genre ripe with scenarios of people making idiots of themselves for our reading enjoyment. In Summer at Seaside Cove by Jacquie D’Alessandro, Jamie Newman escapes New York for the beach in an attempt to regroup after a failed relationship, only to face a run-down shack, an ever-present family, and a difficult (but of course attractive) neighbor/landlord. The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig takes us back to the French Revolution with the story of Amy Balcourt. Amy heads out to France with hopes to become a spy with the league of the Purple Gentian. Secrets, misunderstandings, and clumsy spying attempts don’t bode well for her career, but the Purple Gentian finds that he wants her close by anyway.
If you like your romance heavy on the humor but light on spice, you might like these Christian authors. A Bride in the Bargain by Deeanne Gist tells the story of Washington settler Joe Denton who needs a wife to keep his land and Ana Ivey who unknowingly signs off as a bride when she just hopes to escape to the west to find a job cooking. Full of witty dialogue and likeable characters, Gist’s books are a treat. In Fancy Pants by Cathy Marie Hake, Lady Syndey Hathwell escapes to her long lost uncle’s ranch disguised as a man. Ranch manager Tim Creighton is disgusted by his new ranch hand’s hardworking but inept and weak attempts to live up to his expectations.
For humor with a more mysterious turn, you might try The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection, takes up the case when characters suddenly begin to disappear from great works of literature. A mix of fantasy and mystery is delightfully witty. Alan Bradley takes you into the world of the engaging Flavia de Luce, eleven year old chemist in The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. When she discovers a dying man in the garden, she revels in the joy of investigation.
Some of us like our humor to be a little otherworldly. In A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore, neurotic hypochondriac and recent widower, Charlie Asher, is faced with the challenges of a new baby and a new and unwanted job as a merchant of death. Scott Rockwell has adapted Terry Pratchett’s Discworld into Graphic Novel format, maintaining the bizarrely humorous feel from the original novels about a parallel world that rests on the backs of four elephants balanced on a giant turtle hurtling through space.
When the hot, slow days start to get you down, just remember the words of MarkTwain, “Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.”
Jennifer Pharr Davis spent four months hiking the Appalachian Trail after her college graduation. How many women would wear the same pair of socks for days on end while hiking mostly on her own for 2,175 miles, encountering moose, rattlesnakes, armies of bugs, lightning storms, blizzards, rain and hail? Unlike her fellow hiker, Cheryl Strayed whom I wrote about in the review, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, Jennifer chose to backpack with a lighter pack getting along without the best equipment. Her trials were similar but her background was far less ‘wild’, coming from a stable southern Christian family. Jennifer’s experiences with people she meets along the way are funny, frightening and an education. Her miles traveled per day seemed nearly impossible to me. The second time she hiked the AT she set the fastest record for men or women on thru-hikes averaging 47 miles per day. This book is a great motivator to get outside and enjoy nature while you exercise!
Cheryl Strayed has written a frank memoir of her life journey as she hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. Cheryl chose to hike the 1,100 mile trail after the devastating death of her mother from cancer and her divorce. This remarkable tale of her hike is composed of harrowing and painful experiences such as rattlesnake near misses and hiking in boots that are too small with a back pack, The Monster, considerably larger than anyone else carried. This book is also composed of beautiful discoveries about life and how she wants to live it and helpful, good people she meets along the way.
Oprah chose Cheryl’s book as her first book club selection for her new 2.0 book club in June. She said her thought was after reading Wild, ‘Where is the Oprah Winfrey show when you need to announce and tell everybody about this book?”