Say something about yourself!
As far as books on exploration and historic expeditions, this is about as good as it gets--written by an award winning author familiar with mountaineering, exploration, etc., using the scientific journals, letters, and diaries of members of the 1911 Australian Antarctic Exploration (AAE)--particularly Australian heroes Douglas Mawson and Xavier Mertz. Roberts article about this historic expedition in the January edition of National Geographic piqued my interest, and the book expanded the fascinating article.
The explorers set out on a 600 mi. round trip journey across the unexplored frozen land, unprepared for the icy gales over 120 mph, week long blizzards, and perilous crevasses--hidden under *ice bridges* that gave no sign of the deep chasm beneath until the ice had cracked and swallowed the victims. Of the original 27 men and 36 dogs--only Mawson survives to meet the rescue ship, covering the last 100 miles by himself. Sir Edmund Hillary, of Mt. Everest fame, referred to Mawson's final lone push to the base camp (I will let you read about the terrifying incidents yourself) as, "the greatest survival story in the history of exploration."
Roberts did fastidious research but doesn't add flourish to the journals, keeping the story as accurate and real as possible. I thought the style was captivating and kept the events immediate--the desperation and fear felt threatening, the starvation was painful. The men write about the thin canvas tents in the relentless blizzards, layers of clothing frozen to them while they slept in their sleeping bags, the maddening loneliness and quiet, peeling off layers of frozen dead skin, the paralyzing fear that each step might crack open a bottomless icy cavern--it truly is chilling. Maybe I'm less fussy than other listeners, but I felt the narrator did a wonderful job balancing the sciene with the humanity.
I'm an animal lover and feel like my dog is people...so the fact that man's best friend became man's best meal bothered me immensely--just a little personal aside. (And wasn't it enough that they ate masses of the penguins and their eggs?..did they have to entertain themselves by antagonizing them first?!) It's hard to hear about in such expressive detail...*journalized for science* the taste of boiled Husky brain...(and the NG magazine had pre-expedition photos of the poor canines--gulp). Because of the scientific nature of the expedition, this is different from, say... Into Thin Air... and the type of adventure book that is more about a personal conquest. Know that there is a lot of detail and history of previous explorers. At times, the story jumps from one group's story to a previous group, and was a little challenging to follow. The epilogue is fantastic, detailing the impact of the expedition as well as the fate of Mawson. Sitting by my fireplace, I lookled out the window and thought the snowy-20 degree day didn't look so bad.
I love reading, have since I was very little. Reading to me is fun, relaxation, acquiring knowledge and so much more. No particular preference for a genre or writer, I will read anything well written. Once gripped by somebodies style of storytelling & writing, I am likely to read everything he or she has written.
I am an avid mountain hiker, so when browsing Audible.com and spotting a book with a hiking boot on the cover my interest was peaked. Listened to the prologue and actually gasped, then laughed, then listened with mounting interest. I bought the book.
This is not a book about the Pacific Crest Trail and it is. I know, sounds crazy doesn't it? The PCT is the main thread, it gives the story continuity and a goal. The real story is how and why Cheryl Strayed happens to be on (or strayed onto) the trail. She takes us on her life's journey, along many of the lows, a few of the highs and shows us what lessons she took away from them.
In the telling CS is absolutely frank and honest. She tells us things most of us probably wouldn't tell our mothers, perhaps not even our best friends and certainly not total strangers. But it makes the telling even better. And she tells the story well! CS has a smooth writing and storytelling style, that drew me in. At times I found myself laughing out loud, while at others I was moved to tears and at all times I wanted to know what would be/happen next!
Bernadette Dunne does an excellent job. The narrator can add something to a book or absolutely destroy it. I've put probably perfectly good books away, because the narrator annoyed me so much I couldn't go on listening to him/her. Not BD though, she adds to the story!! At no point does she become irritating, annoying or worse. Her pleasant voice and style make reading this book an even better experience.
Sometimes the language is explicit (i.e. when CS writes about a sexual fantasy or her experiences with drugs), but never abusive, always functional and always with a lesson to be learned. Not forced upon us, but the attentive reader can pick it up easily.
Like I said before: the book is not about the »PCT« and it is. The part that is, tells us how best to prepare for a long distance hike .... or not ;-). The hiker in me gasped at her description of her first packing of her backpack, then laughed out loud when the image of her lifting it was conjured up in my head, suffered with her when she talks about her hiking boots and was not a little jealous when thinking about making a similar trip myself.
»Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail« is totally enjoyable. No lessons need to be learned if you don't want to. You can just enjoy a good reading/listening experience. Your money would not be wasted. However, all of us can take something away from this book and take a fresh look at our own lives to see where own particular »PCT« might lead. Then your money definitely won't be wasted.
So, to everyone - hiker and non-hiker alike - I say: buy this book!!