Oprah’s Book Club ran for 15 years, covered 70 books, and it’s estimated that it helped sell more than 55 million books. The club ended in 2011 when Oprah ended her show, but a new version was recently launched: Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. In this version, readers interact with each other, Oprah, and the author in a variety of formats including social media, discussion forums, and webisodes. It culminates with a TV show on the OWN Network.
The first book for this new book club? Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed, a memoir that follows the writer’s journey as she hiked over eleven hundred miles through California, Oregon, and Washington. So, of course, we had to check it out.
The Pacific Crest Trail covers 2,663 miles from Mexico to Canada and with high elevations (up to 13,000 above sea level in the Sierra Madres), hazardous weather (snow in the mountains and draught-like heat in the desert), and the commitment it takes to undertake such a challenge, very few “thru-hikers” (hikers who take on a long distance in a single trip) actually make it through the “PCT.”
After watching her mother unexpectedly die and her family seemingly fall apart, 22-year-old Cheryl finds herself lost and empty. She first turns to sex and then to heroin to attempt to fill the hole in her heart—which doesn’t bode well for her marriage.
So, at 26, divorced, scared, and not quite sure what to do with herself, Cheryl finds herself on the PCT, putting one foot in front of the front of the other, testing herself, taking in the beauty, and learning a lot along the way.
Throughout her journey, Cheryl sees beautiful sights, meets interesting people, eats a lot of canned goods, and discovers her own inner strength. She describes her struggles along the trail from carrying a heavy pack and wearing boots that are too small to confronting her loneliness and accepting what life has handed her and the choices she’s made.
Her tone is honest and real, yet optimistic and hopeful. Anyone that has taken on long challenges on their own will identify with her experiences…and anyone that’s interested in the Pacific Crest Trail will gain some valuable insight into what to expect:
Miles weren’t things that blazed dully past. They were long, intimate straggles of weeds and clumps of dirt, blades of grass and flowers that bent in the wind, trees that lumbered and screeched. They were the sound of my breath and my feet hitting the trail one step at a time and the click of my ski pole. The PCT had taught me what a mile was. I was humble before each and every one.
Oprah’s interview with Cheryl will air this coming Sunday, 22 July on OWN’s Super Soul Sunday at 11 a.m. (EST).
A reading guide for Wild is available for book clubs.
Title: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Author: Cheryl Strayed
Year Published: 2012
ISBN number: 0307592731, 978-0307592736
Formats available: Hardcover, Kindle, Nook, Audio
***Photo by B. Clay Shannon, from The Pacific Crest Trail Association