Historic Places in South Jersey

Historic Places in South Jersey - Places to Go and Things to Do

A discussion of things to do and paces to go, with the purpose of sharing, and encouraging exploration of South Jersey.

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Stranger In The Woods, Michael Finkel - Book Review

As any of you who have visited this blog before are aware, I love the woods.  It is no longer as surprising to me as it used to be to know there are people who don't like the woods.  I know too many of them and they are detailed and specific about why they don't like the woods.  Most of it is fear.  They fear the insects, the unknown.  They are afraid of the woods.  I love the woods and feel at home there and I have from the first time I hiked in the woods as a young teen.

Personally, I think the other thing they fear is the solitude.  It is one of the things that draws me.  I, too, can be specific about what I love about the woods, and most of it is sensory:  I love the smell, specifically, the smell of un on pine needles, the clean water smell of air washed by rain and purified by the breath of trees.  I love the quiet, the dance of the shadows of leaves and branches just slightly sent swaying by a breeze, the sighing of the trees.  I love the very thing that frightens others, the solitude, the quiet.  

After reading The Stranger in the Woods, I have come to believe that this difference is 'hard-wired.'  Even as a child, I loved quiet and solitude and felt an affinity for animals.  Animals are quiet.  The curl up beside you or near you and that's good enough = no chatter or argument or row.

All the things I love are quiet, animals, books, the woods - so I really understood the main character in the true story, The Stranger in The Woods.

As a young man in his twenties, he left his good job, his family, his new car, and walked into the woods, and never came out until he was arrested.  He lived by burglarizing vacation cabins, only for food stuff such as canned goods, and for winter clothes like parkas and necessities such as mattresses.  He also stole batteries and propane tanks for his cooker and his radio.  He lived like that for 27 years and this book is his true story.  

I am not giving anything away when I tell you he was arrested because that is how the author, Michael Finkel, himself an outdoorsman, starts the story, in the first chapter.  He goes on from there to talk about solitude, other mystics and monks, woods craft, and many other things as well as Christopher's life and family and interviews with him in prison.

It is a fascinating story  in so many ways.  I love psychology and science as well as the woods, so there was much to capture my interest.  I strongly recommend this book to you for all of those reasons.  I am only a few pages from the end but I must stop now because my brother, who also lives a solitary life on a hill in West Virginia, is up for a visit and we are going out for breakfast.  

Being so close to the end of the book, I doubt I will have anything to add to my review except to say that it is written in a very compelling way and other reviews by other readers mentioned that when they started, they read right through to the end because they couldn't put it down.  

Sometimes the trail leads into the woods, sometimes the trail is one of thought, sometimes the trail is a set of lines on a page - whichever the trail is in your world, I wish you:
Happy Trails!
Jo Ann

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