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What We're (Finally) Reading Now: 'Wild' by Cheryl Strayed

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I know that I am perhaps a little late to jump on the Wild train. (It was published in 2012.) But as the movie is about to come out and I love pretentiously declaring all the differences between the book and the movie to all my friends throughout a screening and the entire way home, this week was my last chance.

You’re probably aware of the gist of the tale by now, even from movie previews alone. Cheryl Strayed needs to pull herself out of an emotional low, and her method for doing so is making an 1,100 mile hike over 3 months on the Pacific Crest Trail. She’s abused herself with drugs, she’s cheated on her husband, the memories of her dead mother lock her in perpetual grief and self-medication. She needs, for lack of better phrasing, to walk it all off.

I knew all this going in. I knew that Strayed and I share, or have shared, similar pains. I knew that she eventually healed — she’s a public figure who seems happily married and has a couple of children now. I knew that Oprah loved it, as did the millions who made it a best-seller. But what I didn’t know was that Strayed, at least on paper, is a thorny character. I found her too indulgent. Too selfish. Too keen to make every situation revolve around her. In my defense, I “met” her as a heroin-using, adulterous, grieving, mess. In her defense, that is the point of the book, entirely.

Regardless, I loved it. The journey, the writing, all of it.

It is of coming undone. Fraying at the edges and feeling all the feels. More than once, I came undone — frayed and feeling –right along with her. Strayed is fierce and she is volatile and a complete hurricane of a woman. She is not soft, and she certainly is not delicate. There were many times I buried my head in the book’s bindings, unable to look at the page and read what she was doing. There were as many times that I had to mop up my tears or muffle my laugh from my morning train-mates. And, of course, there were also times I had to put the book down, overwhelmed by her story and what memories of my own surfaced along her trek (does this mean I am also guilty of making every situation revolve around me?).

I’ve high hopes for the movie, but I hope you’ll take a peek at these book pages before you see it.

What does everyone else think? Has everyone else already read it?

 

Cheryl Strayed's three favorite underrated books

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Cheryl Strayed’s favorite books include ones that inspire her to write and ones she can share with her 8-year-old daughter. Read more about Strayed’s picks for criminally underrated books below: READ FULL STORY

Cheryl Strayed makes 'Wild' connection with her half-sister

In the 2012 memoir Wild, author Cheryl Strayed sets out on a grueling hiking trip to help get past some personal losses, including her mother’s death and her divorce. As it turns out, that journey led to another, unexpected outcome: The connection to a half-sister she’d never met.

Over the summer, Strayed’s half-sister just happened to check out Wild at her local library. “She was just interested in books on travel,” Strayed told NPR. “She’s not a hiker but … that hiking boot on the cover caught her eye. And she was just halfway into chapter one when she said she sat bolt upright in bed and realized that we had the same father.”

The two have stayed in contact via email but have yet to meet in person, though Strayed hopes that a meeting is in their future. “It’s been really pretty interesting to think about: What is family? And what is a connection? You know, obviously this isn’t someone I grew up with. I’m meeting her as an adult. And … our connection is through this man who neither one of us has a relationship with now. And so how are we sisters? And how do we proceed?”

Listen to the full interview with Strayed on NPR’s website.

Goodreads users select best books of 2012 -- FIRST LOOK

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The annual Goodreads Choice Awards are basically the People’s Choice Awards of books. Users of the literary social network voted on their favorite books of the year in 20 categories, and this year, there were some surprises — J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy as best novel? — and some slam dunks (Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl for Best Mystery, John Green for Best Young Adult, and Cheryl Strayed’s Wild for Best Memoir). Once again, Veronica Roth proved that she’s pretty much unbeatable when it comes to reader-voted prizes, winning the Best Goodreads Author award for the first time and the Best Young Adult Fantasy award for the second time with Insurgent, sequel to Divergent.

The closest race occurred in Best Historical Fiction, with M.L. Stedman’s The Light Between Oceans narrowly beating out Man Booker-winner Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel. J.K. Rowling’s first adult novel most likely benefited from a large and devoted fanbase, as Casual Vacancy only became a finalist due to write-in votes — its Goodreads user rating of 3.32 stars wasn’t originally high enough to qualify it — yet it won the biggest honor.

Susan Cain’s Nonfiction win for her best-seller Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking made me smile — partly because I could picture a bunch of Goodreads bookworms really relating to it, and also because introverts, a sizable but often ignored and misunderstood demographic, have had a big year in 2012 with the publication of Quiet, Sophia Dembling’s The Introvert’s Way, and a buzzed-about feature in The Atlantic.

See the entire list of winners below: READ FULL STORY

Cheryl Strayed talks 'Wild,' 'Tiny Beautiful Things,' Oprah, and 'Dear Sugar'

When Cheryl Strayed initially set out to write about the three-month hike on the unforgiving Pacific Coast Trail that she took at the age of 26, she expected it to be a long essay. It turned into a memoir, Wild, somewhat on accident, and now it’s an Oprah’s Book Club pick, sitting at No. 1 on the Hardcover Nonfiction list.

Before Wild became a major best-seller, Strayed was an accomplished essayist and novelist (2006’s Torch), and she already had a large, passionate reader following in “Dear Sugar,” the terrific, at times brutally honest advice column she’s been writing for therumpus.net since March 2010. She wrote as Sugar anonymously until she outed herself in February of this year. Vintage has released Tiny Beautiful Things, a paperback collection of her advice columns, some of which haven’t been published before.

Very much in demand these days, Strayed has been traveling the country talking to fans of both her new books. She took a moment to talk about Oprah, Wild, and Tiny Beautiful Things. She also has some helpful advice to all the aspiring writers out there. READ FULL STORY

Oprah Winfrey sits down with 'Wild' author Cheryl Strayed -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

Last month, Oprah Winfrey resurrected her defunct Book Club specifically for Wild, a terrific memoir by Cheryl Strayed. In an in-depth, two-hour interview airing this Sunday at 11 a.m., Strayed will be discussing Wild and the events that led her to hike the harrowing Pacific Coast Trail alone at the age of 26.

While the book details her grueling physical journey on the trail, it’s really about loss — how the death of her mother emotionally gutted Strayed, and how she set out to mend the broken pieces of her life.

In the exclusive clip below, Strayed discusses the difficulty of writing about her mother without romanticizing her. Catch the full interview July 22 on OWN as part of “Super Soul Sunday.” READ FULL STORY

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