What books will you go to your death either embarassed that you haven't read, or disappointed that you didn't get to?
I warn you, I am a philistine, whose best books for at least 10 years have been the randomly selected non-fiction at the public library. I remember "Banana" and "Ants", which I didn't finish, but will remember that the sum total of body weight of humans may equal the sum total of the body weight of all ants. I remember deeply "The Botany of Desire" my DIL bought me for Christmas. I read "The Truth about Donkeys" and "We Bought a Zoo" randomly. "the truth about" moved me deeply. "we bought--" became a movie. The book was better.
After weeks on reserve, I finally read "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed. I hope she makes millions, because I wish that for any writer. If a movie is made, I have no expectation it will be evocative in the least of the book. It is too complex. Movies seldom are, which is why I see so few. She read books on that trip, at 26, 15 years ago, I still haven't read. Most, I don't want to.
I was so with her on that silent tramp through the wilderness, though. Treasuring days of silence and no human beings, after accustoming to alone in the wilderness. Rediscovering wilderness, and beauty, and only your own impression of what you see.
She did it right.
My son thinks I'm nuts because sometimes I prefer to drive for hours with no voices, maybe wind, maybe only road sounds, eyes less distracted as I have a chance to see around. Especially on a road trip. I don't mind what others find boring vegetation.
I backpacked in Colorado only once, and cherished the times when I fell behind the group, lost in my own listening to marmots, chuckling waters and the wind. That's what I remember. That's what changed me, if at all. Does it count that 25 years later, it makes my eyes kindle and I smile?
Today, we have to search for solitude, for connection to the world as it is.
I don't think it is worth it.
I think it is essential.