Summers call for lying on beaches, hiking through mountains or doing water sports. But if you can’t travel far yourself, you can still experience an adventure through another’s eyes. Here are four journeys of healing, growth and strength to remind you of the deep connection between humankind and nature.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
A 22-year-old woman embarks on the Pacific Crest Trail, a 1,100-mile hike that runs from Mexico to Washington, to recover after her personal life falls apart. In this memoir, Strayed’s venture into the woods brings her face-to-face with record snowfalls and intense heat, bears and rattlesnakes — as well as an overwhelming feeling of solitude. Along the way, the journey tears down her walls and grants her the opportunity to find herself. The book is a nice reminder of the deep connection we share with nature, despite all the distractions of modern-day life.
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
In State of Wonder, pharmacologist Marina Singh is sent on a mission to Brazil to find her company’s missing scientist, Dr. Swenson. For years, Swenson has been trying to develop a new fertility drug in the Amazon jungle by studying the women of a local tribe but to no avail. Marina must figure out Swenson’s progress and report back to their company, which has been funding the research. But while she’s there, Marina also begins to investigate the mysterious death of a colleague, leading her deeper into the Amazon. Patchett's depiction of the jungle is both menacing and rejuvenating, allowing its presence to be more than just the story’s backdrop.
The Valkyries by Paulo Coelho
In this autobiographical story, Paulo Coelho and his wife travel to the Mojave Desert in search of his “guardian angel,” whom his spiritual master said he’d find among the Valkyries, a group of warrior women who ride through the desert on motorcycles. Coelho hopes that by finding his guardian, he can fight his personal demons, temptation and fear and embrace love instead. The 40-day journey through the scorching desert forces Coelho and his wife to adjust physically, mentally, and emotionally to the journey and the company of each other. Coelho invites readers to let go of the past and have faith in the future, while also questioning mankind’s destructive tendencies in love.
Where I lived and What I Lived For by Henry David Thoreau
While it was written in 1854, Henry David Thoreau’s tale of moving into the woods to live a self-sufficient life still resonates with today’s environmental movement. His transition from a bustling civilization to the solitude of nature is a plea to fellow humans to return to a life of simplicity. Thoreau’s sustainable home, as well as his peaceful encounters with wolves and bears, show humanity’s natural suitability for the wild. The quiet, simplicity and independence from consumerism allows for a spiritual awakening that can only be achieved by noticing the beauty of one’s surroundings.