Staff Pick: The Stranger in the Woods
Have you ever experienced the eerie feeling of being watched when actually you were supposed to be all alone? If so, you have this in common with almost an entire small town in Northern Maine. For nearly 30 years, residents of Rome, Maine experienced this feeling and attributed it, along with a constant string of strange break-ins, to someone they’d never seen and only known as The North Pond Hermit.
After purposefully “losing” himself in the wilderness of Maine in 1986, 20-year-old Christopher Knight did not reemerge into society again until his eventual arrest in 2013. Michael Finkel’s The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit provides an intimate look into Knight’s existence before, during and after his decades long hiatus. Interviews with family members, residents of the area, officers who made finding The Hermit their life’s work, and even Knight himself allow interesting insight into society’s view of solidarity and the sheer diversity of human nature.
Michael Finkel points out that “most of us feel like something is missing from our lives. And I wondered then if Knight's journey was to seek it. But life isn't about searching endlessly to find what's missing. It's about learning to live with the missing parts.” Though I doubt most of us will abandon our lives and adopt the forests of Hoover as our new home, I think many readers will be pleasantly surprised to be able to relate to Chris Knight and some of his motivations for wanting to escape today’s fast-paced way of life.
If you’re interested in reading more about lifestyles of seclusion in the wilderness, you might also enjoy:
Jon Krakauer’s Into The Wild
The Magnolia Story
The Magnolia Story is an endearing walk through Chip and Joanna’s journey to their Fixer Upper television show fame. Narrated by Joanna, and Chip too with his usual style of popping in and out, this book takes you to the start of their relationship, the first houses they flipped, and the beginnings of a new family. Though this book isn’t a behind-the-scenes of Fixer Upper, it tells everything that came before the show and gives you an interesting peek into their past. Joanna doesn’t leave out the hard times in their business or their relationships, as, with each challenge they conquer, a new one always seems to leap up. But through it all they share their philosophy for life and how they choose to thrive rather than survive. It feels like your sharing a laid back conversation with them. Their charm and friendliness shines through the pages. As feel good biographies go, this one does the trick, and who doesn’t need a little Chip and Jo in their lives every once in a while?
Don’t forget to check out The Magnolia Journal magazine in Nonfiction to get recipes, stories and new ideas from Chip and Joanna monthly!