Sunday, September 30, 2012

What Would You Read on a Three-Month Hike?

I have just started listening to Cheryl Strayed's book Wild on CD in my car as I drive to and from work. At one point, she talks about what books she has in her pack. She's got a book on the Pacific Coast Trail, she's got As I Lay Dying, and she has a collection of poetry by Adrienne Rich. As much as I love Faulkner, and as much as I love poems by Rich (esp. "Phantasia for Elvira Shatayev" and "Diving into the Wreck"), these are not the books I would take with me on such a trip. But then I started thinking, what would I take? I'm really not sure, and I'd need to think about it some more, but I think I'd use the time to read things that I'd never had a chance to read, maybe some classics that also have good plot. I'll list a few, but I reserve the right to revise my list when I see other people's choices:

  1. War and Peace (I've never read it)
  2. Middlemarch (I've read the first quarter of it)
  3. Little Dorrit (or something else by Dickens)
  4. Jane Austen (yes, there are one or two that I haven't read)
  5. ??? -- I need to think about this. Something fat and fun.
This list might be too old school and classical for me, but that all have strong plot I think, which would be important after a long day of hiking. Maybe I'd have to do a re-read like Lonesome Dove or something. I read that one while backpacking in Europe and loved it.

So now you:  If you were heading out on a three-month hike in the wilderness, what reading would you take? I'm sure you could mail yourself new things at various PO stops along the way, so feel free to list up to five things.

Ready, go!


Bardiac said...

You are SO lucky to have some new JA to read!

You've got good choices there :) It would be good to reread W&P!

C. Troubadour said...

You've stumped me, GEW. You'd think I'd have a ready top 5, but I got totally hung up on the whole reading-while-hiking thing. Would I stop and perch on a convenient rock for a half-hour break and then realize I'd read for half the day? (Likely.) Or would I save the reading for night, when I was holed up in a cabin or tent with a flashlight and pass out from exhaustion within minutes? (Also likely.) I see lots of reading getting done with the former and next to no reading with the latter. Hmm.

Perhaps I should start with one book in this thought experiment and see what my style turns out to be: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. said...

Would I read Walden? Emerson? I'm thinking something romantic and visionary. Certainly not Deliverance. And nothing too epicky, esp. after hiking all day. A snippet of wild loveliness for me.

Good Enough Woman said...

@CT, Yes I envision both of those types of reading! And if you read the Henrietta Lacks book without going hiking (since I doubt you'll be doing that anytime soon), let me know how it is!

@2or3, Certainly NOT Deliverance! I guess War and Peace is a bit epicky (love that word), but I think I'd need a thick story and a strong plot to keep me going. I couldn't do something too philosophical.I would be looking to be diverted, for sure. :)

Anonymous said...

After a long day of hiking, I like to figure out the stuff I took pictures of and stuffed in my pockets. I want to know what tree *that* is, which species is the acorn from, that bird that chirped like a squeaky wheel, that berry bush with spiky leaves. I always pack nature books because I NEED to know this shit! I won't be able to sleep without knowing that bird! (especially on a camp pad!)

CT, I cried during HeLa book. Amazing, powerful, sad, hopeful. GEW, you can have my HeLa book if I can find it. I'll let you know.

My 5:
1. Gone with the Wind. (I want to re-read it).
2. 20000 Leagues under the Sea. (I want to re-read it).
3. Let's Pretend this never Happened... The Bloggess is bust-up funny. I would keep the bears away from LOLing.
4. AWOL on the Appalachian Trail. MUST.HAVE.BOOK.
5. Some Nature Guide.
Hikin' Unicorn

Good Enough Woman said...


Gone with the Wind! That is brilliant! I'm adding it to my
list FOR SURE. I might replace one of the others with it.

I read the Bloggess book on the plane ride back from the UK when I went for my PhD work. It was exactly what I needed. You know the debate she and her husband had about the undead? I read it aloud to my husband (after I got back home) and could hardly speak I was laughing so hard.

I haven't read 20,000 leagues.

Thanks for playing, Unicorn!