A walk in the woods – Bill Bryson

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I put this book down more than three days ago, but in my mind I’m still wandering through the deep woods of America’s back country. I’ve never read a Bill Bryson book before, but I must say that A walk in the Woods was the ideal introduction to his work. His humour in this short travelogue is on form, as he details his attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail. It had me literally laughing out loud, sometimes in very public places.

Maybe what made me pick it up was the fact that I have always thought someday I would hike this trail myself. However, after vicariously experiencing it through Bryson’s account, I think I’ll give it a skip. Bryson goes into great detail about both the beauty, history and challenges of this trail (bearing in mind that it is over 3000 km and goes through  14 states, including Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee and New York).

It was a great read, light, funny and reflective on man’s relationship with nature. One of the most poignant themes that runs through this book, and one that Bryson continuously brings his reader back to is how humans have destroyed our planet. In that sense, the book is a tragi-comedy, but highly worth the read.

I paired this wine with the Sumaridge pinot noir, perfect for summer or winter (both seasons which Bryson experiences in the woods) and with flavours that I feel connate dark American forests: Black cherry, cedar wood smoke and wild herb.



My Salinger Year- Joanna Rakoff


New York native Joanna Rakoff explores the existential theme of entering adulthood in this coming-of-age memoir.

Freshly out of university, Rakoff takes a job as a secretary at one of New York’s oldest literary agencies in the mid-90’s, only to discover it is the same agency which shot J.D. Salinger to fame.This simplistic story tells of her year working on a project for Salinger which never came to fruition, discovering his works for herself for the first time, grappling with what adulthood means, and leaving behind love for the sake of what she describes as “a little unhappy and constantly lonely” in the hopes of getting her own works published.

While nothing much happens in the story itself, this book is exquisitely written and makes for an easy read. Set against the backdrop of New York, its hard to resist being sucked into the world of literature that Rakoff paints, cleverly using Salinger to discuss the themes that she herself has wrestled with.

This well-constructed novel is definitely worth a read, whether you are familiar with Salinger’s work or not. I paired this with a rich and aromatic Italian wine, the Bardolino Zonin, a bordeaux-style blend which reflects the fruity and soft flavours of a pinot noir while being quite heavy on the alcohol side of things. This wine is as well-constructed as Rakoff’s novel.