Lakeside Book Club: June Campfire Reads

As we get further into summer, I find myself reading more and more. I always associate summer with reading. I think it’s because when I was little, we had a summer reading challenge in school, that I won. I was at the library every week, sometimes numerous times per week, picking out new books to read from The Boxcar Children to The Baby-Sitters Club.  I read my tush off that summer, reading 60 books in a little over two months! I would come home from the beach and plop myself down on my grandparent’s den floor and read. I was so excited the day I went to the principal’s office and held that certificate in my hand. I was smiling ear to ear. I won! I just loved to read, and I still do. Everyday is still like a library day for me. I go onto my Kindle wishlist to checkout which books on my list are on sale that day. Of course, being married and having adult responsibilities, it is a lot harder for me to read as much as I did then (and the books are longer of course), but I still always make sure I leave myself some time in my day to relax and read.

This month, I have a few books to share with you; some with a New England theme.

The Clairvoyants by Karen Brown

The Clairvoyants by Karen Brown was an interesting read. It was very different from what I would typically read, but the story line really intrigued me. The book begins in New England with two sisters who are clairvoyants. At first I thought this was going to be a ghost story, which is why I decided to read it, but it turned out to be more of a personal journey, through various relationships, of the main character, Martha, that all intertwine because of ghosts apparitions. It dives into Martha’s dysfunctional life and pulls you into her suspenseful story, which ties in with a past she would like to escape from. I honestly could not put this book down and read it fairly quickly, despite having a weird feeling about Martha’s relationship with her boyfriend. Their relationship just seemed strange, like they never really connected or had a solid relationship, almost like he was standoffish. You learn more about why he is that way as the book goes on, but I feel like she just settled for him, for a loveless relationship. Other than that, I really liked the book, for something that is so dark and twisted and not what I would typically read, and I do recommend it. One thing to note, if you are looking for a book that takes place in New England, do know that the whole book does not take place there, much of it takes place in upstate New York where Martha attends college.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed lured me in immediately. I could not stop reading this book and felt that I was living her story through every written page. Every spare second I had while I was at the camp was spent reading this book, and after I was finished with it, I was addicted – I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The main character, Cheryl, was torn apart from her rough childhood, her mother’s death, a broken family, and a ruined marriage to a guy she still loved. All of this damage lead her to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). This is a true story, so if you don’t like drugs or sex, this probably isn’t the book for you because she has some really low moments in her life, in which she details throughout the book. Because of these instances, you want to dislike her, but at the same time, you feel sorry for her, so you’re pulling for her to get her life back on track. She’s a great writer, and you can literally feel her pain while reading her story.

When I first picked up this book, I thought it was going to be something different. I thought it would be more about her PCT trek then it would about her personal life, but that really wasn’t the way the book was written. It kept jumping back and forth between the trail and her past. Either way, I was still hooked. This girl was hiking from California to Washington ALONE, with no previous hiking experience. It wasn’t the smartest thing for her to do, but she did it. Her pack was so heavy it was practically throwing her over and her feet were taking a true beating because her boots were too small. She was strong and brave enough to keep going even though many times she was stuck without money, food, and water. If you are into hiking, you will definitely like this book and relate to a lot of her journeys, but I think that even if you aren’t into hiking, it is an inspirational story that you will enjoy. It’s one of those books that I may go back and read again just because I miss reading it!

Becoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail by Jennifer Pharr Davis

Since I was craving another hiking story after reading Wild, I decided to read one on something much closer to home, the Appalachian Trail (AT), which begins in Georgia and ends at Mt. Katahdin in Maine. Becoming Odyssa was more of what I thought Wild would be, a book that outlines a hike along the Appalachian Trail from start to finish. It didn’t really include the personal story that Wild did. There was some personal storylines in it, but it was mostly about daily Appalachian Trail experiences. With that being said, I didn’t like this book as much as I liked Wild. I did read it really quickly because I was curious to know what her next encounter or challenge was going to be on the trail. There was one point where she had a stalker, and I just could not put the book down. I was reading feverishly to see if she was able to escape the madness.

But there were other parts of the book that really drove me nuts. I didn’t like the writer. She was way too judgmental, and being that she is a Christian and kept referring to the bible, shame on her for being that way. In the words of Carrie Underwood, it’s not the Christian thing, to do, they say.

As a person who dreams of hiking the AT, she crushed my dreams continually as the book progressed. She really looked down upon those who are section-hikers and weekenders. Because she was doing the whole trail, she had this better than thou attitude. Some of us aren’t 21, have a family, have jobs, and can’t hike the trail for 6 months; that’s life and it’s reality. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt, since she was only 21, I’m sure she didn’t understand that at the time. That doesn’t make her better than weekenders or section-hikers. She even wrote at one point that she should be able to “pull rank over a weekender or section-hiker” and seemed annoyed that they thought they were just as important as her. She then went on to call one an idiot, in capital letters, for bringing a bear canister on the AT. She really made me feel that if I didn’t go out there and hike the entire trail the right way, there would be this family of thru hikers looking down on me like an outsider cheating the system and being an annoyance to them. When she went on these rants, I really just wanted to stop reading the book. It was so frustrating to me.

I guess in the end, I did like the book, despite the author’s attitude towards people. Her stories from the trail were really great, and it’s nice to know that there are still kind hearted people out there in the world like Magic Momma, a trail angel who came to her rescue. She also went through the same thing Cheryl did in Wild where she ran out of food. At one point, she found trash, and in it was tortellini, which she ate. I guess you have to do what you have to do when you’re in the middle of the woods and you’re hungry! She does bring up murders on the AT, which freaked me out a little bit, but I guess it adds to the story and makes you a little more skeptical of her stalker. I didn’t realize there were murders on the AT until I read this book, but I did look into it further and found out that they are really few and far between. If you want to read about the AT, I would recommend the book, but from what I can see from other reviewers, there are better books out there on the subject.

Up next, this book and Beach Town by Mary Kay Andrews.

Have you ever read any of these books? Feel free to share your thoughts on them in the comments below!

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