Wild by Cheryl Strayed

I bought the Nook Oprah version of Wild because I was as interested in the promised reading experience as I was in reading the book itself. The first time I saw Oprah’s 2.0 Book Club website, I was instantly jealous. This was an online book club done RIGHT! As a librarian who is really into the digital reading experience, this is the kind of online book club experience that is so smart, engaging, and perfect. Libraries and companies have tried for years to host online book clubs, but never with much success—and it is neat to see so many components of what I think the perfect online book club sharing experience should be all packaged up in one place. There are short videos each week featuring the author reading passages from the book, there are discussion questions thrown out via Twitter, there are additional resources about the Pacific Crest Trail (the setting for the book), a question and answer area where Oprah replies to questions about the book via video, and more. Even the reading experience itself was quite a bit different, because with the e-reader Oprah version, selected passages are highlighted with Oprah’s notes. It was strange, but actually pretty neat to read along and get a different perspective along the way on the book itself. It was a lot like having a conversation with someone when you are reading a shared title. I didn’t think I would like it when I first purchased the book, but I have to admit I was surprised.  I’ve never been much of an Oprah fan before, but I will follow this project from now on, just to see how it grows or fizzles.

The book itself was a great memoir which features a woman who, four years after losing her mother to cancer, still finds herself lost and searching for answers. Cheryl makes the decision to make a life change and starts by hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. This 100-day backpacking journey required more physically than anything else Cheryl had ever faced before, but the best part of reading this book was watching Cheryl face her mental demons and rise above them to learn who she really was and what she was capable of being. There were a few spots where I just couldn’t quite imagine why this woman made the decisions she made, but that’s kind of how life is sometimes. The pure honesty shown in this memoir is what makes it special.

Wild is a great story which was aided greatly by the enhancements made by Oprah. I wonder where this concept will lead. Time will tell.

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