Cheryl Strayed’s Wild changes lives

Pacific Coast beach, Oregon
Oregon coast (photo by Matt Hallinan)


One of my favorite columnists, Nicholas Kristof, wrote recently that Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, Wild, has inspired “hordes of young women” to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. 

Wild was one of the first books I wrote about on Books Can Save a Life. 

Strayed’s memoir has turned out to be not just a bestseller, but a transformational story that has given many women the courage to take enormous risks.

The other day I was reading an essay by Barry Lopez, “Landscape and Narrative.” He tells of visiting a small village in the Brooks Range of Alaska and listening to stories about animals and hunting. He says:

“The stories had renewed in me a sense of the purpose of my life.  This feeling, an inexplicable renewal of enthusiasm after storytelling, is familiar to many people. It does not seem to matter greatly what the subject is, as long as the context is intimate and the story is told for its own sake.”

Cheryl Strayed’s Wild has that kind of magic.

This summer Heather Anderson broke a record by backpacking the length of the Pacific Coast Trail, alone and without support, in 61 days.  It’s good to see women taking risks and feeling more at home in the world.

Columbia River
“Keep close to nature’s heart…and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.” John Muir


Lopez quote: “Landscape and Narrative” in Crossing Open Ground by Barry Lopez, Vintage Books, 1989.