Monday, May 31, 2010

Books by Theme: Loners



Karen Karper became a nun at the age of 17. Where God Begins to Be picks up her story three decades later, when she moves to the Appalachian woodlands to become a hermit. Her new life revolves around carrying water, stacking firewood, and performing other tasks of survival. Karper’s perseverance is rewarded with increased creativity and spiritual wholeness.

Surely no book is more associated with solitude than Henry David Thoreau’s Walden; Or, Life in the Woods. Thoreau, who valued voluntary simplicity as it afforded him time for study and contemplation, built a simple cabin on Ralph Waldo Emerson’s land and lived there experimentally from 1845 to 1847. Although he “never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude,” he was no hermit and by book’s end becomes a sojourner in civilization once again.

Alix Kates Shulman’s midlife memoir, Drinking the Rain delightfully traces her transformation from stressed-out city person to beachcomber/wild foods connoisseur. A prolific scribbler, she retreats to a small family cabin on the coast of Maine intending to write. There she begins to lose her desire for such busyness and re-creates herself over in rich, simple solitude.

Dog: a Short Novel by Michelle Herman features J.T. (Jill) Rosen, a college professor and poet who in midlife has given up all social contact. When J.T. adopts a dog she names Phil, she manages to avoid meeting other dog owners by walking the dog at midnight. Yes, J.T. is both cynical and neurotic, but her relationship with Phil reveals the deep love that even the most solitary soul can feel for another living creature.

10 comments:

writergal said...

Journal of a Solitude by May Sarton is one of the BEST journal/memoirs on living alone and writing.

Milli said...

DOG looks so cute! Great list. I'm a big fan of loners (reading about them)!

Zibilee said...

Ooh! Where God Begins to Be sounds like it would be right up my alley! Thanks for sharing this with us!!

celi.a said...

I've never read any of these...and though I'm no extrovert, I must admit that the idea of hermitage frightens me. It seems dangerous for humans to be alone...

Great list!

SariJ said...

Where God Begins sounds sounds like something I would really like. It reminds me of Cave in the Snow. This is a true story of a Western Tibetan nun who decided to live in a Himalayan cave until she reaches enlightenment. If you like this sort of book I highly recommend this title. Meanwhile I am going to look up Where God Begins.

Kate said...

Thanks for the recommendations! I've just ordered a copy of Where God Begins to Be.

StephanieD said...

Whenever I think of living a solitary life away from civilization, I think of Into the Wild by Krakauer - breaks my heart just thinking about it.

Cleverly Inked said...

Kinda sad genre

Lisa said...

I've never read any of these. Writing a book about someone being alone would really take a good writer.

Mystica said...

I havent read any of them but would like to read the first book you recommend.