Smart Twenties Book Club | Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Wild by Cheryl Strayed is the perfect read for twenty somethings. Discover the 3 major lessons I learned and why you need to read Wild in your twenties.
I’m one of those people that has to read the book before seeing the movie.

So I have to tell you – the real reason I decided to read Wild by Cheryl Strayed was actually because I really wanted to see Reece Witherspoon’s new movie (if you’re also the kind of person that has to read the book before seeing the movie I’m sure you understand).

But I definitely don’t have any regrets – there are so many reasons I loved reading Wild:

Firstly, Wild is an amazing ‘lost to found’ story and those kinds of stories just give me so much comfort and hope. Secondly, it made me so keen for my trip to Peru to hike the Lares Trail (which is kind of weird because this book definitely doesn’t glamorise hiking and I really don’t want to lose any of my toenails). And thirdly, I love the way Cheryl writes and that she knows how to keep a story moving.

But I didn’t start the Smart Twenties Book Club so I could write book reviews (and I’m not too sure I should be the judge of whether a book’s good or not – there are a lot of shitty books that I love and a lot of good books that I don’t).

So instead, I’m going to share what I took away from Cheryl’s journey along the Pacific Crest Trail or ‘PCT’.

Do things before you feel ready

If there’s one thing Wild demonstrates, it’s that you should do things before you feel ready.

Spoiler alert – Cheryl didn’t feel ‘ready’ to hike the PCT (I feel like this isn’t really a spoiler but anyway) sure she bought some hiking gear but she’d barely done any research, she hadn’t done any training and she had absolutely no idea what she was getting herself into.

She just decided she was going to do it and then she did it.

And I guess that’s the key – to just do things. To not wait until you feel 100% prepared or until you feel like success is 100% guaranteed. To just get started and learn as you go.

Most of the time we’re actually ready to do something but because we feel scared we put off starting for as long as we can. We think we’ll feel ready when we have more money or more time or a different job or different friends – we can always point to something we don’t have that would make us feel more ready.

But we don’t need to feel ready to start. We are ready, even if it doesn’t feel like it.

Do something big by yourself

In Wild, Cheryl talks about how she hiked the PCT solo even though she had the opportunity to hike with the new friends she made along the trail.

Cheryl knew she had to make the journey alone and that’s because there’s something amazing about doing big things by yourself – when you do things solo you have to back yourself. You have to trust your decisions. You have to get comfortable with who you are.

But there’s a lot of stigma around doing things solo – it’s as if the only reason someone would ever do something by themselves is because they’re a loser, because they don’t have any friends. Everyone seems to think it’s sad when people do things solo.

To me, spending all weekend binge-watching Netflix by yourself because all your friends are busy is way more sad than going out and doing something cool by yourself.

I’m not saying you need to go out into the wilderness by yourself for 3 months like Cheryl did, but one thing I’ve learned from Wild is that doing things solo can be so damn empowering. And it’s also reminded me that the last time I did something big by myself (going on exchange to Montreal for 4 months) I had the most amazing time.

I need to do more of that.

Everything will be ok

Another thing I took away from Wild (and something that I think I definitely need to remember) is that everything will be ok.

Maybe it won’t go according to plan and maybe I’ll wish I did things differently, but everything will be ok.

As I said at the beginning, ‘lost to found’ stories just give me so much comfort and hope and I think it’s for this reason. They make me feel like even though I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing, things will work out.

Everything will be ok.

Next Month’s Book

The September book for the Smart Twenties Book Club (and yes, I know it’s already halfway through September… time goes so damn fast!) is:

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

This is a bit of a different one but I’ve heard it recommended SO many times that I feel like now is the time to read it.

The full title of this book is ‘Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life’ but according to the reviews it’s not just for writers (and apparently Anne is pretty witty and I’m super keen for a witty book). You can read a little more about it on Amazon here.

Update: Read my review of Bird by Bird here

Join the Smart Twenties Book Club

Did you know the Smart Twenties Book Club has moved to email?

About once a month, I send STBC members a super-long exclusive email packed full of my personal book recommendations and reviews! Just click the button below to become a member instantly:

What do you think?

Have you read Wild by Cheryl Strayed? And if not, do you think you’d like to read it? (or have you seen the movie and if so, did you like it? I still haven’t seen it!)

And will you be reading Bird by Bird?

Don’t forget comments are always appreciated – I’d love to hear about your experience with meditation!

Sam xx

Author: Sam Brown

  • I read Wild about a year ago and it is still one of my favourite books! You are so right..there is so much stigma attached to doings things solo (especially for women!) I think I am so attached to this book because it is the first novel I’ve read which tells the story of a woman in the wilderness (stories that take place in nature seem to only feature male characters). I was listening to an interview where cheryl strayed admits how completely terrified she was when her book came out because she didn’t know what people who think of her. That was a great reminder of how even people who we view as brave and daring are also at times completely terrified and unsure of themselves. I wrote a piece on the wild at I love your book club and nerdily follow along with all of your recommendations ! 🙂

    • Hey Sam!

      Thanks so much for your comment! I’m glad to hear you loved the book too. I’d love to listen to some interviews with Cheryl, it seems like such an amazing experience to do that and then to also write a book about it! I loved your review of the book too 🙂

      So happy to hear you’re loving the book club – are you going to read Bird by Bird? I’m really liking it so far (and since you like writing you’ll probably really like it too!)

      Sam xx

    • Hey Elyse

      It’s definitely worth the read. About a week ago I watched the movie and it was nowhere near as good as the book (because they have to cut out so many good sub-plots to fit it into 2 hours) – I’m definitely glad I read the book first 🙂

      Sam xx

  • I haven’t read the book yet but I’ve been seeing a lot of hype for it, so I’m definitely curious. I really like that you share the lessons you learn from books, it says a lot about the books and makes me want to read them. I took a trip to Europe with my siblings when I felt I wasn’t ready for it and I had a plan in my mind for when I would go but realized the best time is now, as everyone says. 🙂

    • Hey

      Thanks so much for your comment! Yes there has been heaps of hype about it which is what got me curious too – I think you’d really like tohe book! And yes, the best time is definitely now!

      Sam xx

    • Hey Pia!

      haha yes as soon as I hear that a movie is based on the book I have to read the book before I see the movie, and if I don’t read the book then I just never see the movie. But I way prefer creating the world in my head and the story is always so much better!

      Sam xx

  • I need to read this book, even more after reading your thoughts on it! I also feel like I’m kind of lost in life so knowing that sometimes it’s necessary to get lost in order to find ourselves, gives me a lot of hope that everything will turn out okay at the end.
    I always tend to wait until I’m ready, or for that “perfect time”, but then I end up not doing anything or missing the opportunity. And I actually bought my first solo trip a couple of weeks ago for later this year, which is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. Even though I’m super scared of going alone, I know it’s something I need to do for myself.

    Ps: I missed visiting your blog, I always enjoy the topics you write about! 🙂 x

    • Hey Joana

      Thanks so much for your comment – it’s lovely to hear from you again! That’s so exciting and amazing that you bought your first solo trip, where are you going?! You will definitely have an incredible time and I’m sure you’ll meet lots of amazing people you would have never met if you didn’t have to leave your comfort zone!

      Sam xx

      • I’m going to London for a few days. Thank you! Yeah, I also think so, and it already feels good to do something for myself and get out of my comfort zone 🙂 x

  • This sounds like such a great book. I’m the same, I prefer to read the book before watching the film! (And I really want to see the film!)

    This is a great post (I’ve just come across your blog but loving it!) and you give some great advice. I’m feeling quite lost at the moment and very scared and unsure but your tips are really helpful. I appreciate that you’ve reminded me that everything will be OK (I’m a born worrier you see!)

    Josie // josievictoriaa / fashion, travel and lifestyle

    • Hey Josie

      Thanks so much for your comment! I think that most of us are pretty scared and unsure, even if it’s not obvious. I’m glad you’ve found some of my posts helpful though (even though I don’t really ‘know’ anything, I’m just sharing what I learn as I go along!)

      I’d love to know if you’ve read any good books lately that you can recommend!

      Sam xx

  • Hi, Sam! So I just found your blog while looking at and am taken with your posts. I have read Wild and felt so empowered after doing so! I am a person that has a small amount of friends (2, to be exact.. god that sounds so sad…) and I often find myself doing things alone. Cheryl’s book made me feel like it wasn’t just okay to do things alone, it was exciting and eye opening. I think I will follow your book club, I love to read! And I am an English major in Oklahoma, so I love to write, too. I will read the September book, for sure. I look forward to reading more and talking with you, good luck with your travels!!

    • Hey Kieran!

      Thanks so much for your comment, I’m glad to know you felt empowered when you read the book too – it really is a great book for helping you realise how powerful it can be to do things solo!

      And thanks so much for your lovely words about my blog, I’m going to send you an email 🙂

      Sam xx

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