What to read: Wild

WildTP_Books-330As mentioned in an earlier post, I’m trying to read the majority of BuzzFeed’s 16 Books To Read Before They Hit Theaters This Year that I’ve not completed already. And by majority, I mean the ones I actually want to read (and eventually see the movie). I was attempting to go in order of movie release date, but my anticipation got the best of me and patience has never been one of my better virtues, so I jumped ahead to Wild by Cheryl Strayed. This one has actually been on my Amazon wish list for awhile, as it was a top rated book of 2012 by pretty much every website you can imagine (and The Oprah). How I hadn’t read it already I have no clue. Actually I do, I believe books have their time and place in each of our respective lives. They hit our hands or our Kindles exactly when they’re meant to. Even Twilight had its purpose in my life. More on that later.

As for Wild, I have not been this inspired and motivated by a book since I read Eat, Pray, Love. For the most part, those who’ve read EPL either LOVE it or HATE it, there isn’t much in between. I am in the love love love camp, for both the book and movie. And I continue to drink Eilzabeth Gilbert’s Kool-Aid; I can’t stop myself. EPL is actually the main reason I believe books appear in our lives when needed. December of 2008 was a very hard time. I was in LA, going through my divorce and it was my holiday season “single” for quite some time. I’d also been through a handful of other unfortunate encounters with the opposite sex. I don’t know any other way to phrase that other than “encounters”, as describing them as relationships is both an overstatement and much too kind. At the time, one of my then girlfriends worked for the studio that released EPL and she gave me a copy of the book for Christmas. She told me she hadn’t finished it yet herself, but what she had read reminded her of me, what I was going through, and thought I should read it. She was right. There were parts of that book that were extremely painful to read, but it was still therapeutic.

Although I could relate to what Elizabeth Gilbert went through in the beginning of EPL, why she set off on her travels, I will be forthright and say I cannot, at all, relate to what Cheryl Strayed went through that prompted her travels. She lost her mom, very suddenly and tragically to cancer. While not able to empathize, I can certainly sympathize with her unimaginable loss. It threw her into a mad phase of drugs and infidelity, which led to a very painful divorce. Now that I can empathize with. For example, she says that Paul (her husband) and her “fought and cried and shook the car with [their] rage. [They] were monstrous in [their] cruelty…” Although it was me sitting in my car alone, the same ferocious arguments took place over multiple phone calls. I lost my voice on more than one occasion. Cried so much I became dehydrated. Scared multiple people in the parking lot of Westside Pavilion. I never knew how nasty I could be and gosh knows I never want to be that way again. I don’t need time alone in the wilderness to know that.

I don’t think what I posted about and that I finished this book on Tuesday was a coincidence. They’re perfect companions. Everyone is going through something right now, most likely something we don’t want to be going through. And we all deal differently. I’ve dealt with tough times in a variety of ways, both rather toxic and relatively healthy. These days I personally try to turn to my readings, my Gaby and my yoga mat. Cheryl Strayed turned to 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. And I have immense respect for her for doing so. I was proud of myself for just hiking Runyon Canyon when I lived in LA.

As Cheryl more or less says in the book’s trailer and in the last chapter, she truly came out on the other side of her massive hike as a different person, a whole person. As soon as it was over, she realized she had absolutely no idea where her life was going to take her after such a trying journey, she really only knew where she was going to live temporarily, just like we have no clue what is going to happen to us after our tribulations are over. Or really…what is going to happen at all. And that’s absolutely okay.

It was all unknown to me then, as I sat on that white bench on the day I finished my hike. Everything except the fact that I didn’t have to know. – Cheryl Strayed

Xo, Nikki

PS for those of you who are fellow fans, Nick Hornby actually wrote the script for the movie!

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What to read: You Knew Me When

2013-09-06-cover_000I recently came across You Knew Me When on, of all places, Lauren Conrad’s Fall Reading List of 2013. I’d already read a handful of novels LC had included, most notably Where’d You Go, Bernadette, which I absolutely loved and of course To Kill a Mockingbird more than once. It’s an all-time favorite and one of my dog’s names is Harper Lee (her first foster mom named her, it naturally caught my eye on Pet Finder!) Anyhow, I’ll be truthful, the first few chapters of You Knew Me When had me rolling my eyes. Katherine Hill is a very cliché character: the 30-something high-powered NYC executive who has sacrificed life and love for her career. As the story what happened with her ex-best friend, Laney Hancock, unfolds, there is depth in the character development and you do get quite involved. It just isn’t a story with groundbreaking material and it’s rather predictable. I’m not saying it’s not entertaining, as it’s great chick lit, the perfect vacation read or what to pick up once you step off an emotional roller coaster like Labor Day. Or, you know, what to read at 1 a.m. when you’re freaking out over gray hair. Every reader gets something different out of each book he/she reads. All novels don’t have to be award winners or perfectly written to be enjoyable. You will hear more on my opinion of this later, I despise a book (or TV or movie) snob.

As a 10-year marketing veteran and geek though, this is where it gets fun. While Googling reviews of You Knew Me When, I came across this article on HuffPo Books from the release last fall. The book’s author, Emily Liebert, is a smart cookie. Since Katherine is an exec at a cosmetics company in the novel, Liebert teamed up with Zoya Nail Polish and both a fashion and jewelry designer to create products based on the main characters. Studios have been doing this with movies for years. Most recently for Skyfall, Hunger Games and let’s not forget the fashion and cosmetics empire Twilight built. There is already a plethora of, er, merchandise out there branded with 50 Shades of Grey, but it will only increase as August approaches. Make fun of me all you want, I’m not ashamed to say I CAN’T FRIGGIN’ WAIT. However, it’s quite unique and ambitious for a relatively unknown author and first-time novelist such as Liebert to step out and do it all herself for her initial major release. Gotta give her kudos for that.

On the Kindle now is Wild by Cheryl Strayed, which is an upcoming movie with a screenplay from Nick Hornby and starring Reese Witherspoon. Reese I could love again when she finally broke up with Jake Gyllenhaal. Clearly she realized he and I are soul mates…too bad he hasn’t yet. I figured it out 12 years ago; I’m getting impatient.

Xo, Nikki