A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit

For anyone who still thinks getting lost is by definition a bad idea, this book will probably turn you around about 180 degrees.  Getting lost, says the author, is how you find the things you didn’t even know you were looking for but really needed to find.

Rebecca Solnit is an essayist, an art critic, an environmentalist, a political activist, and that’s only the short list.  She is also a very good writer, as evidenced by a dozen books on subjects varying from A History of Walking to her latest publication, A Paradise Built in Hell.  The former really is a history of bipedal movement, told in her inimitable style, and the latter is a wonderfully hopeful report on the aftermath of disasters both natural and man-made.

In A Field Guide to Getting Lost, Solnit celebrates the value of the intangibles, the undervalued and the small glories that many if not most of us tend to ignore or hustle right on past without noticing them at all.  Part of the basic philosophy is no particular philosophy, rather a sense of wonder, an open mind and the capacity to see and feel more than just what can be labelled or defined.

B.J. Whitehouse said in his review of Getting Lost that this is a book you should read again after you’ve read it the first time, because the ideas and inspirations need time to simmer.  Solnit writes about the uncertainties that plague us all, sometimes literally, sometimes metaphorically.  Ultimately, it turns out that uncertainty, or “getting lost” can open the door to marvels that we’d never discover if we never strayed from the beaten path.