I admit it, I only readA Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail a few weeks ago. As soon as I did, I knew I needed to read Wild as well. I have read other Bryson books (and talked about them here). I have read other ‘journey’ stories. The two books were so connected in my mind that I had to talk about them in the same week.
Once upon a time, I really enjoyed books about traveling as metaphors for the mental and emotional journey people take. I am a big fan of setting a difficult goal to help yourself grow as a person. I have been a fan of memoirs about that experience. My love for these books is fading though and I am trying to figure out why.
I think it is connected to 2 things. First, there are so many of these memoirs that I am overwhelmed with them. Some are great, but there are too many ‘meh’ journey memoirs that it is ruining the genre.
The difference between Bryson and Strayed is in Bryson’s story telling style. He has reasons for walking the Appalachian Trail, but this book is less about those reasons and more about the history and the actual adventure. Strayed, on the other hand, talks more about herself: her history, her life, her epiphanies, and her thoughts. I appreciated Bryson’s perspective more than Strayed. I want more people who simply walk around the world, exploring, and sharing. I don’t need it to be a way people recover from their trauma or find meaning in life.
What was the same, and what I enjoyed about both, is the connection they had to books. Most of the book related content was about guide books or, in the case of Bryson, history books. Neither was about the books though. It just happened to be an element of each story.
On Friday I will get into the movies for both.