Wild: The Book or The Movie?

In early 2013, I happened to read Cheryl Strayed’s memoir of walking the Pacific Crest Trail. This was months before I knew I would walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain, but I knew on a gut level that Wild was a book for me.

I’ll admit, the front cover helped.

That simple image of a hiking boot on a white background grabbed not just my attention, but tugged at my fundamental core, too.

Hiking is hardwired into my heart and I can’t help but turn my head when I see a pair of hiking boots. Images of nail polish and designer perfume don’t excite me. Images of hiking boots, however, do. 🙂

Like the author, I’ve walked and camped alone. The world tells us that, as women, this is dangerous and reckless. The world tells us that we are under threat of attack, and that hiking alone isn’t safe. I understand that there are real dangers in the world but you know, I don’t believe in shying away from the great outdoors just because I’m a woman. That mind-set only perpetuates the myth that women shouldn’t be physical and strong.

That makes no sense to me at all.

And it only makes me more determined to disprove the myth. So, my mentality is to be sensible, organised, and mindful. Know how to stay safe in the outdoors. Learn how to navigate and survive. Then go enjoy the world’s biggest playground!

Strayed walked 1,100 miles, alone, along the west coast of the United States. Here was a woman I could relate to. Here was a woman I could understand. I wanted to know what she had to say.

The trail passes through states I have visited and loved – including California, Oregon, and Washington. The Pacific Northwest is a corner of the world I cherish dearly. Think of big landscapes: giant redwood trees, expansive lakes, coastlines with yellow sand beaches that go for miles and miles.

Not everyone visits this part of the country.

Even fewer backpack across it.

Fewer again write about the backpacking.

And the amount of people who have the writing skills to recount their experience in an engaging, funny, and humane way, are few and far between.

But I think Cheryl Strayed managed to do all of the above in a most beautiful and seamless way.

Quite simply, I loved her book.

I relished every page and when I got to the end, I wanted to start all over again. I stopped myself from doing that, but I’ve held on to my copy so I can read it again sometime in the future. The book feels like a close and intimate friend.

So, I’m feeling conflicted and confused about whether to see the movie version, which was released recently. The world is full of movies based on books. Sometimes the adaptations are great. Sometimes they are a heartbreaking disappointment. How can you tell in advance which it will be?

I’ve noticed that when the author is involved in the screenwriting, the book and film seem to compliment each other nicely. It makes sense – the authors get to influence the tone and integrity of the script. They have some control of how closely it resembles their original work.

In the case of Wild, I’m heartened to see that Strayed herself has written the script. So has Nick Hornby, whom I also enjoy. Both authors write in a style I find immediate and entertaining. I could read them all day.

So it bodes well for me that they’ve both been involved with the screenwriting and I’m hopeful that it makes for a good film adaptation.

But still, I’m not quite sure. I really loved the book. Would I also really love the movie?

What about you? Have you seen it?

Do you plan to?

Do you think the movie version ever lives up to the book?

And what would you do?




7 thoughts on “Wild: The Book or The Movie?

  1. I LOVE Nick Hornby – and love his books. I was extremely disappointed with ‘A Long Way Down’ – his book which was made into a movie (not sure if he wrote the script), so I understand what you mean. I haven’t read Strayed’s book, but after reading this post, I will put it on my reading list for sure. I’m currently reading Sinning Across Spain, by Ailsa Piper – which I’m loving at the moment. Not finished, but so far a great read. Ailsa is walking off people’s sins.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve just looked up Alisa Piper’s book and it’s first time I’ve heard of the medieval tradition where people paid others to carry their sins to holy places and so, buy forgiveness.
      You learn something new every day!


  2. I read the book and saw the movie and, in my opinion, it’s a rare example of a movie staying true to the literary work without sacrificing interest or becoming a slave to the text. When I think back on the book, it was intensely visual which, in turn, lends itself well to the screen.

    Cheryl actually has a cameo in the film and her 4-year-old daughter plays herself at that age. I really loved it. Her story is really gritty, which I had a hard time relating to in either medium, but it inspiring in the end that she heals and gets her life together.

    Apparently Reese Witherspoon had a tough time in this role – it challenged her. She had never done a sex scene before and the backpack was true-to-life weight. I like knowing that the actress who played Strayed went through her own troubles and succeeded too.

    If you decide to go, I’ll be curious to know what you think!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, she had a very gritty story pre-trail. Thankfully I can’t relate to it either, but I can relate to the catharsis of long distance walking and I loved her writing style in recounting her experience.
      Great to hear that Reese’s backpack was true-to-life weight….my own shoulders groan in sympathy!
      Thanks for the feedback Jen: I’ll let you know if I go to see the movie.


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