Some books just make you take a good look at yourself

By From page B1 | November 01, 2013

When I opened the book and started to read, I already knew it was going to be different from what I usually read.

I don’t usually go for books that force me to deal with a lot of introspection. I’m an avoider when it comes to that. Too messy, too painful.

So when I began my journey along with “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry,” a book set in England by a British author, I didn’t expect the type of book that was going to force me to look back on the past 30 years of my life.

What I thought I was getting myself into was Harold’s journey. He’d made some mistakes in his life and when he got a note from an old friend/co-worker, saying she was dying of cancer, he set off to the post to mail her a simple note in return. He ended up walking – walking to Berwick to see his old friend Queenie. He felt that by walking the hundreds of miles, he was keeping her alive. He left behind a shrew of a wife, Maureen, and a nosey neighbor, Rex.

Harold was a simple guy – didn’t need or want much, took all the brunts and shoves life had to offer with no complaint and no push back. Not exactly my type of person. I was having difficulty feeling sorry for any of them. Feeling rather superior and disdainful, I kept reading. Mesmerized, actually, by the words of author Rachel Joyce. I. Could. Not. Stop.

Unfortunately, the book took me to the deep recess of some memories I didn’t ever want to tap into. That’s what Joyce did to this reader – I’m fairly certain I’m not alone.

The journey became less about Harold and Maureen, and more about me. I can’t say I had a lot in common with the lifestyle the couple and their son lead, but the author was so masterful in her writing that my own past mistakes came rushing to the surface as Harold’s several-hundred-mile journey continued. Every time Harold and Maureen discovered something about themselves, I discovered some past misdeed about myself; things I should not have done or said, and the thought process began as I figured out how to make things right.

I’m not sure I’ll ever do anything about those things I regret, but it forced me to think in a positive light about the negative. Less dwelling and a more proactive thought process.

I finished the book and just sort of sat there, memorizing the ending and how, more truthfully, it made me feel about myself in general.

A little introspection isn’t a bad thing. I’m glad I got my dose of it.

So this is a head’s up – this is my book of 2013. This is a book I’m actually going to buy someone in particular and mail to them anonymously. (I think I’m safe with this column and my anonymity.) This person needs a butt kick, just like I did.

I will recommend this book to everyone, but fair warning, don’t read it unless you’re prepared to delve into a deep place of introspection along with Maureen and Harold.

In the end, Harold wasn’t such a doormat and Maureen wasn’t such a negative wench. Life and how they dealt with adversity played a key role in the unhappy, unaware people they had become. They lost their way in life.

They just needed that all-important kick in the butt to find it again.

If you read the book, pay it forward. Send it to someone who you think could benefit from that kick.

 Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.


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