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Travel Book Club: Wild By Cheryl Strayed Discussion

Eden Book Club: Wild Discussion

I forgot how intense Wild is. When I read the book for the first time several years ago, I carved out a space in my heart for the bravery laced within this title but I think, as time passed, the pain of Strayed’s journey – the raw, visceral, should-I-keep-reading-this pain – is one that slipped my mind.

I’m not sure how.

When I picked Wild for this book club meeting, I described it as a grief-driven novel. But after rereading Strayed’s words, I felt like grief was so much more than a driving force in her thru-hiking journey. It was an all-consuming power that Strayed constantly grappled with after her mother’s death.

I think grief became Cheryl’s home and enemy and everything in between.

In a lot of ways, this book is about Cheryl determining her relationship with grief.

But it’s also an amazing travel memoir with rich descriptions of her surroundings. Cheryl captures the slow landscape shift hiking offers in just the right amount of detail (in a way that lets you picture the beauty of her adventure despite all the rough bits).

So without further ado, let’s jump right into the discussion questions!

P.S. Feel free to answer as few or as many of the discussion questions as you’d like. You can still take part in the discussion even if you chose to DNF the book.

Disclosure: Heads up, this post contains an affiliate link! If you make a purchase, we get a comission at no extra to you. You can absolutely pick up a copy of Wild from your neighborhood library or indie bookstore – no hard feelings. Zero pressure to buy anything (the choice is 100% yours). You can read my full affiliate disclosure here.

Wild Discussion Questions

  • The timeline of Wild swoops in and out, between years and months and moments. Did you like the way Cheryl told the story? Or would you have preferred it narrated in a more linear manner?
  • Cheryl uses a lot of repetition in Wild. Were there any stylistic writing choices used in the novel that you loved or hated?
  • Cheryl doesn’t sugarcoat her flaws. How did her mix of good, bad, and rough moments shape how you viewed her character?
  • “Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves.” (page 51) How does Cheryl’s relationship with fear change overtime? How does she challenge her fears?
  • Does the cross of Cheryl’s lush travel descriptions and her grueling trials on the PCT make you want to visit the area (or avoid the location altogether)?
  • Cheryl brings a lot of things in The Monster. What would you have packed or not have packed for a thru-hike of this magnitude?
  • How do you think Cheryl’s spiritual beliefs played into her healing process? P.S. You are more than welcome to share your personal beliefs in the comments section below even if they differ from Cheryl’s (this is a judgment-free environment)!
  • In Wild, Cheryl is a solo female traveler, a term that wasn’t quite as often heard during her time. Do you think the perceptions of a solo female traveler have changed since then?
  • How did the books Strayed read correspond to her emotional, personal, and hiking life?
  • What is the strongest part of this book? What is the weakest?

Let me know in the comments below! Of course, these are just starter questions. Feel 100% free to discuss anything regarding the book. I’ll be jumping in and responding as well!

6 Comments

  • Maya
    February 1, 2020 at 8:22 PM

    Mixed feelings about this book. I liked the parallel storylines. I thought they provided a good backstory on what the motivation was behind her decisions. I didn’t agree with most of her decisions and I didn’t want to sympathize with her because of all the messed up choices she made but I did which made me more confused about how I felt about the story. I wish she didn’t feel the need to do what she did to understand what she needed to understand about herself. The ending was a little choppy. Weird pacing and rushed. Not sure if this counts as a stylistic writing choice but I thought the way she related the physical objects she was carrying and her journey to what was emotionally weighing her down to be interesting and unique. I liked the travel descriptions too. Looking forward to hearing what others have to say and the next recommendation!

    Reply
    • Becky
      February 2, 2020 at 7:54 AM

      I felt the same way about not wanting to sympathize with her but sympathising with her. Even though I don’t like her actions she explains her motivations well.

      Reply
    • Anshula Varma
      February 3, 2020 at 10:50 AM

      So many good points! And that is absolutely a stylistic writing choice! I loved how she wove those metaphors in from the very beginning (starting with the shoe).

      Reply
  • Becky
    February 2, 2020 at 7:51 AM

    I think the question about solo female travel is really interesting. I used to follow a lot of solo female travel blogs on Instagram but I ended up unfollowing them because they make solo female travel seem so easy and effortless. I like how Cheryl made me feel nervous for her when she first talked to that guy whose wife would later give her a meal because I feel those same feelings while traveling solo. In those moments she was relatable.

    Reply
    • Anshula Varma
      February 3, 2020 at 10:55 AM

      That’s a great point Becky! I’m definitely guilty of doing the same (even though I don’t travel solo, I tend to highlight only the good bits on the blog but I think that’s something I’ll change soon) xx – Anshula

      Reply
  • Franziska
    February 3, 2020 at 5:51 AM

    becky you are a woman I look up to. those things youre doing are so amazing.
    keep on going, dear.
    xoxo
    franzi powder brows

    Reply

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