True North Blog

Suggested Reading from Erik

Suggested Reading from Erik

It shouldn’t come as any surprise, I hope, that I am not exactly a fan of The Oprah Winfrey Show.  I am sure that Oprah, herself, is a wonderful person, and I have much respect for what she has achieved professionally and personally, but I am not a fan of commercial television in general, especially when it is used as a public confessional to provide mass therapy.  So the idea of reading a book recommended by “Oprah’s Book Club” had never even crossed my mind.

That is, at least, until last month.

That’s when my friend, Blair Capitano, recommended that I read Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed.

To be fair, though, to write that Blair “recommended” it is a bit of an understatement.  The simple reality is that Blair forced me to read the book!  She had been telling me for weeks how much that she had enjoyed reading it, and how much she had found Strayed’s writing spiritually rewarding.  Still, of course, I politely pooh-poohed it because, after all, I am a serious outdoors educator and what serious outdoor novel could Oprah possibly recommend anyway that would warrant me writing about it on my serious outdoor website?  Right?  So when Blair realized that I was dragging my feet, she actually purchased the book for me and put it in my hands.  Since Blair is not a woman who easily accepts “No” for an answer, I accepted, then, that I had no choice but to cast aside my elitest reading bias.

I am glad that I did because Blair was right … Wild is a terrific book.

Strayed writes about her experiences while hiking along the Pacific Crest Trail (which stretches 1,100 miles from the Mexico border, through California, Oregon, and Washington, all the way to Canada).  More to the point, she shares her reasons why an utter outdoors novice such as herself would even want to take on such a grueling and daunting challenge in the first place.  After a family tragedy in an already unstable family life, and, by her own admission, an ongoing series of stunningly bad personal decisions, Strayed viewed the hike as a literal path towards personal redemption.

While it is a captivating book, it is not necessarily an easy book to read.  Many passages are almost too difficult to follow because Strayed writes with such an unflinching and unfiltered honesty that it makes the reader almost feel like a voyeur.  And other passages tend to ramble in Strayed’s effort to ensure that the reader knows all of the most minute details, no matter how trivial or personally embarrassing they may be.  Still, it is this honesty and detail that not only makes Wild such a unique book in the outdoor genre, but makes Strayed seem like an old friend sitting down with us to help us through our own difficult times.

So I recommend that you add Wild to your reading list just as soon as you can.

Trust me, don’t make me send Blair after you!

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Have you already read Wild?  Please consider emailing us your thoughts or comments … We’d love to post them for others to consider.

Erik Kulick leaning aginst wall with True North badge on blue shirt

About the Author

Erik is the founder of True North Wilderness Survival School. He is a police officer, EMS provider, a Wilderness EMT, and a Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine. He has been featured in national and international media, including CNN, the Associated Press, and Backpacker. To learn more about Erik, visit him on LinkedIn and be sure to follow him on Facebook.

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