Monday, December 9, 2013

France Booktours Review: The Consolation of the Forest & a Giveaway



Synopsis: 

A meditation on escaping the chaos of modern life and rediscovering the luxury of solitude.

Winner of the Prix Médicis for non-fiction, THE CONSOLATIONS OF THE FOREST is a Thoreau-esque quest to find solace, taken to the extreme. No stranger to inhospitable places, Sylvain Tesson exiles himself to a wooden cabin on Siberia’s Lake Baikal—a full day’s hike from any “neighbor”— with his thoughts, books, a couple of dogs, and many bottles of vodka for company. Writing from February to July, he shares his deep appreciation for the harsh but beautiful land, the resilient men and women who populate it, and the bizarre and tragic history that has given Siberia an almost mythological place in the imagination.

Rich with observation, introspection, and the good humor necessary to laugh at his own folly, Tesson’s memoir is about the ultimate freedom of owning your own time. Only in the hands of a gifted storyteller can an experiment in isolation become an exceptional adventure accessible to all.  By recording his impressions in the face of silence, his struggles in a hostile environment, his hopes, doubts, and moments of pure joy in communion with nature, Tesson makes a decidedly out-of-the-ordinary experience relatable to the reader who may be struggling with hir or her own search for peace and balance in life. The awe and joy are contagious, and one comes away with the comforting knowledge that “as long as there is a cabin deep in the woods, nothing is completely lost.”

My thoughts:


When France Booktours contacted me and asked me if I would be interested in reviewing this book, I couldn't resist as I was totally intrigued.  While I do a lot of things on my own - like more to a new city, travel, and visit places like Paris, I can't imagine doing something like going to a remote area of Russia for 6 months - alone.

Consolation of the Forest reads a bit like a diary of Tesson's experience living in the harsh conditions of Siberia.  He clearly has a lot of time for reading and reflection, and he shares many of these thoughts in his book.  I think one thing that is interesting is that you walk away from reading this book feeling like it wasn't this sad, lonely experience and instead was an experience that brought him peace and clarity.  He inserts humor throughout the book, and I found myself nodding along to some of his introspective thoughts, such as "Solitude is a country inhabited by the remembrance of others; thinking of them is a comfort in their absence."


Author bio: 

Sylvain Tesson is a writer, journalist, and celebrated traveler. He has been exploring Central Asia—on foot, bicycle, and horse—since 1997. A best-seller in his native France, he is published all over the world—and now in the United States.

http://francebooktours.com/2013/10/03/sylvain-tesson-on-tour-the-consolations-of-the-forest/

I actually have an opportunity to giveaway a copy of this book to a reader in the US or Canada.  To be considered for the giveaway, please leave a comment telling me what's the longest amount of time you have spent alone.  I think for me, the longest time I have spent alone was my trip to Paris for my 30th birthday as I was gone for about 8 days.


12 comments:

Sue @ SimonsSistaSaw said...

I'm not eligible to enter/win but god luck to those that may. This book sounds intriguing - I love reading about Russia and Central Asia.

The longest I've spent alone travelling would probably be the four weeks this time last year in Nepal and India. I like travelling solo but I often do group tours, bookended with free time. That month was all unplanned solo and whilst fantastic, I was ready for company at the end of it (not that I didn't meet people along the way, but I'm sure you know what I mean)

wordsandpeace.com said...

thanks for your nice review. Emma [France Book Tours]

missris said...

Oh wow this book sounds really interesting. I'm not a big fan of spending time alone actually, but I think the longest I've gone is maybe a weekend when D was out of town and I didn't have any plans? I assure you that after a day or so I'm climbing the walls and talking to the random baristas at Starbucks for an inappropriate amount of time, ha!

Nora said...

I think my longest stretch of being alone was four or five days, at one of my apartments when I lived solo.

Sounds like an interesting read and also how cool that it's a company called France Book tours :)

Amber said...

Oh gosh I can't even think of the longest amount of time I've spent alone. I guess it was when I lived alone for 8 months when Eric and I were long distance back in 2009-2010! I did spend A LOT of time with friends during that period though and of course had Webster :) haha

Stephany said...

I *love* my solitary alone time and hoard it greedily, but I don't think I could go longer than 3-4 days! 6 months - whew! I think the longest time I've spent alone was maybe a weekend?!

Abby said...

This sounds really interesting! I cannot imagine being alone in a place like Siberia...I think it would get scary.

I enjoy my alone time, and am definitely a person who feels very content with soltitude! My longest time spent "alone" is probably last year when Ryan was gone, and I was seriously laid up sick with this awful sinus infection/chest cold.

I didn't leave the house for 3 days and therefore didn't speak to anyone for 3 days. I've had weeks of "solititude" -- but I still saw people at places like the gym and grocery store etc....

Marlys said...

The longest I've been alone was when Paul was in the Navy and gone for 6 months at a time, but I worked or had friends that I spent time with. I, too, enjoy solitude and think it is good for the soul. There are Ignatian Retreats that you can go on for a weekend, a week, or even 3 months and during that time you don't even speak, except occasionally with a spiritual director. Now that would be hard, as even when I'm alone I talk to myself. I would never go away by myself for six months and the last place I would go is to Siberia! We have enough cold weather to satisfy that inclination for a lifetime! I am sure this would be an interesting book to read!

Jeanie said...

Wow -- longest time alone? That takes me back to my 30s when I went to Boston and New England for two weeks. I love the alone time -- I actually like both alone and not!

Kelly (She Wears a Red Sox Cap) said...

Wow- I enjoy alone time but I can't imagine THAT much of it. The longest time I spent alone was probably when I spent 3 days alone traveling in NZ. I don't have much opportunities for long periods alone now and that is about to get even more true in about 2 months. Yikes.

a/k/a Nadine said...

Sounds interesting! I spend A LOT of time alone. I lived alone for years. I like to hike alone and have climbed two of the Adirondack High Peaks alone (although now I prefer the company of my sister on such hikes). Some day I'd like to do some long distance hiking, either alone or with my sis.

Nicole Winebrenner said...

Oddly, I cannot recall the longest stretch of time being COMPLETELY alone. Maybe 2 or 3 days? I feel like with technology and social media and community I rarely am completely alone.
In fact, this question made me think I should invest in a few days a year of complete solitude.
This book sounds amazing- I find it fascinating when people challenge themselves in ways most of us avoid.