It’s happened, folks. It’s been one year since I took the leap and went away for a three-month adventure. In ways that I couldn’t have imagined back when I resuscitated my blog (this is the first post under Travel with Mer), my life changed completely. It took sharp twists and turns, easy climbs and terrifying drops.
All that has brought me here.
In a serendipitous series of choices, my reading this last June has surrounded two themes: reinvention and travel. In a way, it was the dose of perspective and warmth that my soul desperately needed.
The Salt Path (2018)
By Raynor Winn
This book had been staring at me from behind the glass of multiple bookshops’ windows. Everywhere I went, it felt as the book was following me and calling me to get a copy. Once I had it in my possession it stayed on my shelf for a few weeks until I finally picked it up. Long story short – it’s the best thing I’ve read in a long long time.
Let’s start with the fact that this is a true story. In a riveting retelling of Winn’s experience while walking the South West Coast Path, I found myself yearning to find a love like hers and Moths. Tears ran down my cheeks freely as she brought me (and the rest of the readers) on a journey of desperation, determination, trust, love and finally peace.
Winn’s writing is honest and brutal. She doesn’t simply wash over the gory details, she makes you feel them along with her. Whenever Moth and Raynor conquered a new milestone, I felt the same joy and relief as they did. When they received kindness from unsuspected strangers, I started to regain trust in humankind.
The Salt Path takes us on a journey of self-discovery and reinvention. It also gives wonderful details on the history of the South West coast of England, and it’ll make you want to pack your bags and go. Hopefully, we won’t have to go through the same hardships as Raynor and Moth did, yet their story is a lesson to us all on overcoming adversity.
A must-read. Bring tissues.
Washington Black (2018)
By Esi Edugyan
I’m not gonna lie, I was sceptical when I decided to read this. The GoodReads reviews were mixed so I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy it. But I did. Not my favourite book, but I’m glad I read it.
Washington Black follows freeman Wash’s adventures across the world – from his birthplace sugar plantation in Barbados to the US, the Arctic Circle, Canada, the UK, the Netherlands and Morocco. Set in the early 19th century, Wash sees his live become involved with Titch’s – a British abolitionist eccentric obsessed with flying.
The book is helpfully divided into four parts which depict each stage of Wash’s life. While the descriptions of each new place and how Wash fits in as a black man are wonderful and bring you right into the heart of the action, as the book progresses the dialogue becomes lazy and our hero’s motivation doesn’t change.
There are years between the beginning and the end of the book, and yet Wash’s mentality and thoughts don’t evolve with his age and the myriad of adventures he goes through.
Overall I enjoyed reading this book but it’s not one I’d recommend too heartily.