NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “With winning candor, Jedidiah Jenkins takes us with him as he bicycles across two continents and delves deeply into his own beautiful heart.” — Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild and Tiny Beautiful Things
On the eve of turning thirty, terrified of being funneled into a life he didn’t choose, Jedidiah Jenkins quit his dream job and spent sixteen months cycling from Oregon to Patagonia. He chronicled the trip on Instagram, where his photos and reflections drew hundreds of thousands of followers, all gathered around the question: What makes a life worth living?
In this unflinchingly honest memoir, Jed narrates his adventure—the people and places he encountered on his way to the bottom of the world—as well as the internal journey that started it all. As he traverses cities, mountains, and inner boundaries, Jenkins grapples with the question of what it means to be an adult, his struggle to reconcile his sexual identity with his conservative Christian upbringing, and his belief in travel as a way to wake us up to life back home.
A soul-stirring read for the wanderer in each of us, To Shake the Sleeping Self is an unforgettable reflection on adventure, identity, and a life lived without regret.
Praise for To Shake the Sleeping Self
“[Jenkins is] a guy deeply connected to his personal truth and just so refreshingly present.” — Rich Roll, author of Finding Ultra
“This is much more than a book about a bike ride. This is a deep soul deepening us. Jedidiah Jenkins is a mystic disguised as a millennial.” —Tom Shadyac, author of Life’s Operating Manual
“Thought-provoking and inspirational . . . This uplifting memoir and travelogue will remind readers of the power of movement for the body and the soul.” —Publishers Weekly
2.5 stars. this is a memoir about doing something worth writing a memoir about. jed's a fine writer, but his point of view is a too benign for a travelogue. good for him for taking on such an audacious adventure, for growing as a person, for working out his faith, but, if he's presenting all of that in memoir form, he should have worked on making that story more interesting for us. there were missed opportunities for humor, for rawer confession, for penetrating insights into himself and others. there's almost no exploration of the anxiety of influence born of having parents who did the very thing he set out to do (travelling thousands of miles under one’s own power and writing about it). bizarrely, he claims his parents' travels never entered his mind before his mother brought it up after he announced the trip to her. he dismisses the effect his instagram celebrity might have on the presentation of his travels, but neglects any further mention of celebrity (sophia bush joined him on the trip and took the cover photo). given his quest for an identity and his plan to turn this whole thing into a book, I expected him to address whether he was seeking celebrity to give him the identity he was looking for. it was also somewhat contradictory to recognize and throw off his life-long desire to be a "good boy" and then confess his American chauvinism over and over in a manner that surely would get all of the NPR hosts cooing. not to mention that his earnest 'wokeness' also seems a little compensatory given the kony 2012 controversies. Jed's change of faith or loss of it (I not quite sure which) was the least convincing part of the book for me. I don't doubt that the necessities of memoir writing required some simplification, but what he offers in the book are two conversations (one with Weston and one with his friends on the way to Machu Picchu) that don't come close to capturing the nuances and complexities of changes seen in other spiritual autobiographies.
I really wanted to love this book. I followed his travels on Instagram. I enjoyed his interviews. I love a good travelogue. I enjoyed the first half of the book, but by the second half I was ready for it to be done. Good for him for taking this journey, but he’s just not that interesting. All of the religious guilt and baggage was irritating. I just wanted him to let go of it and have some wild sex, and be free. His privilege was so apparent and he didn’t seem to recognize it. I appreciated his honesty, but I found myself wanting to shake him and tell him to give his money more freely, and let go of his judgement and guilt! I found his traveling companion so much more interesting than Jed, and I can’t say that I blame him for not returning. I would give it 3 stars overall, but it was a disappointment.
I am an avid cyclist who has been planning to ride to Patagonia for years. I also love reading about cycling. My wife got me this book for a christmas present and I finally got around to reading it. I'm not sure how he did it but the attorney for Kony 2012 figured out a way to make a book ostensibly about cycling to Patagonia a bore filled with skin deep philosophizing and a shallow depth of understanding.
To begin with, he claims that he was serendipitously connected with some Instagram executives through a friend who then featured him on Instagram. A rather simple Google search can deduce that the author was an attorney for the viral documentary Kony 2012 which would simply place him within the orbit of Instagram executives. There was nothing serendipitous about it. This lack of self awareness and inability to connect seemingly disparate ideas infuses the entire book.
The author is obviously not a cyclist and the bicycle was simply a tool for self discovery and travel. That I could have dealt with. He also claims to be interested in anthropology while barely skimming the subject. Instead choosing to wax poetic, and I mean pages and pages, about his family and friends who repeatedly keep coming to visit him. He complains about his riding partner who says deep things to him and is constantly questioning the nature of life and society. It's all rather insufferable.
At one point he is in Patagonia and meets a young woman who questions him about American imperialism and he sort of laughs her off with a remark about how he "knows some friends who work at NPR." Again, simple platitudes demonstrating a shallow depth of understanding.
I really, really didn't like this book. Had he chosen to focus on the people he met on the road, the cultures of the countries he was in, or even focused more on the riding I would probably have enjoyed it more. I simply could not bring myself to care about the author's family, entitled friends, or his sexuality and religion. I also found myself feeling that his friend who left halfway through the trip could probably have written a far more compelling story based on the trip.
Don’t want to be completely negative because some people might really like this, but it just wasn’t for me. I did enjoy the scenery descriptions, Jed’s travel buddy Wes was a very interesting character as well as the random people they met along the way. That said, Jed is a man who decides on a whim to bike from Oregon to Patagonia in South America. He’s lived his life up to 30 abiding by the religion and belief system he was raised into, living on the safe side - never taking chances - always scared to get into trouble. This book is called To Shake the Sleeping Self, and the main thing that bothers me about it is I don’t think he did that at all. He’s still asleep at the end in many ways. So many mind opening experiences he turned down because of his preconceived beliefs and ideas. It’s awesome that he feels strongly about them but unfortunately it doesn’t make for an exciting story. Nothing feels resolved by the end, his mother calls him disgusting for being gay and then he sweeps it alway and never confronts the issue, acting like their relationship is sunshine and rainbows (if only he doesn’t bring up a major part of himself). Had a lot of potential but I just did not feel like he truly let himself explore and try new experiences. He went home 3 months into the trip and was constantly wanting friends to come see him. It never felt like he completely just immersed himself in the different cultures, he seemed pretty wrapped up in what people were doing back home and his social media accounts.
Congratulations on an incredible journey, book was meh. I listened to it at 2x. I tried to go to 1x and fell asleep. Insights were superficial, nothing resolved in the end.
And he is soooo unprepared for this undertaking. The part that really drove me batshit was he bought Rosetta Stone to learn Spanish, but didn't use it. Really, dude? You couldn't listen to it on your 1000 mile bike ride from Portland to Mexico? Or at all during your 14 months or whatever it was time on the road? At no point you felt compelled to learn the language???
The craft beer may have impeded Jed's ability to write a compelling memoir. Lesson learned: Instagram personalities are sometimes just Instagram personalities. I wish there had been more here, but was thoroughly unimpressed, both with the writing and the adventure. I hope he found his life with no regret, but I daresay he took the most privileged approach to getting there.
To Shake the Sleeping Self interested me because my family had both A Walk Across America and A Walk West on our bookshelves during my childhood. A Walk Across America was a very meaningful book for me, as it was the first travel memoir that I read (or even saw) and it sparked a love for the genre that has lasted for forty years. As a child, I was inspired by Peter Jenkins' journey and longed to make a similar trip one day. Jedidiah Jenkins is the son of Peter Jenkins. So, not only did the premise of this book appeal to me, I was attracted to it for nostalgic reasons as well.
Unfortunately, though I wanted to like it so badly, this book did not live up to my expectations. Though the magnitude of Jenkins' trip was impressive and I do not want to diminish this fact, I did not have a real sense of why he embarked upon the journey in the first place, other than some random guy telling him that he should.
A major theme throughout the book was Jenkins' internal struggle over his religious beliefs and sexuality. On his trip to Machu Picchu, there was an attempt to make some meaningful connection between Christianity's influence on the ancient Incan culture and Jenkins' own Christian upbringing, but this was stilted and ineffective.
Superficially, I was irritated by some of Jenkins' Millennialisms, like using "cheers" as a verb, continually waxing poetic about craft beers and being attached to his apps and American TV and movies, even in a tent in South America.
On a deeper level, I was sad for Jenkins over the missed opportunities on this trip. This was a once-in-a-lifetime chance for transformation and growth. And yet, Jenkins always seemed to stop short of REALLY pushing himself out of his comfort zone.
Jenkins accomplished something really big. He traveled from Oregon to Patagonia on his bike. He encountered difficulties and obstacles along the way. He pushed himself, to be sure. However, though Jenkins may have "shaken" himself, by the end of the book, he still seemed to be asleep.
I wanted so much to like this book! I was SO excited about the premise, but sadly, it really disappoints. Jed is incredibly sheltered, naive, and privileged, and he barely scratches the surface in examining the above while on his bike trip. He offers only the most superficial observations on religion, sexuality, purpose, etc. For someone who has never once thought about racism or gender or questioned their faith, this book might be mildly interesting. But for anyone who's engaged with any of these things for more than thirty seconds, it really falls flat. It's not funny, it's not particularly interesting. MFer doesn't even bother to try to learn Spanish.
Framed as a story about adventure and self discovery, this book sadly just feels like Groundhogs Day... every chapter seems to revolve around how many miles ridden, changing flat tires, and finding an agreeable hostel with WiFi to stay in; sometimes peppered with a few paragraphs about self discovery that never seems to come to fruition. The adventure seems to boil down to finding the best cup of coffee in whatever large city he lands in for a week or two. I was hoping for a more introspective read on humanity, but there is very little focus on who he meets or what they added to his trip. Most of the time he speaks of the lengths he made to avoid speaking to the native people who usually are extending kindnesses his way. At one point, nearing the end of his journey, even Jenkins himself seems agree, “Even telling this part of the story is tiring. The light in my eyes, or should I say in my writing, has dulled a bit. [...] I was ready to see Patagonia and get this whole thing over with.” Yes sir, me too.
In the 1970s I read Peter Jenkins' A WALK ACROSS AMERICA which ignited my love for anything involving true adventure. Since then I have been driven to read just about anything that incorporates some sort of challenging physical endeavour. When I discovered his son, Jedidiah, had written a book about biking from Oregon to the tip of Patagonia, I got a copy as soon as possible. However, while the road adventures were compelling and Jed's honesty and self-reflection about his personal beliefs and sexuality interesting, I felt a bit disconnected and couldn't get as invested in the story as I had hoped. It seemed that he omitted or glossed over some of his journeys but I did enjoy the stories about his parents as I had always wondered what happened to them. I also felt there were some inconsistencies that should have been caught or clarified [note: this observation was from the finished copy, not the galley].
Read this if you enjoy true biking adventures, but if you haven't read Barbara Savage's MILES FROM NOWHERE, her terrific story about biking around the world, or Bruce Weber's LIFE IS A WHEEL, the story about his journey across America, give them a try.
Thanks to the publisher for the advance reading copy.
After I listened to a podcast episode with Jedidiah, I got so excited to read the book. And while reading it, I was trying to convince myself that the book was ok, that it would say me something interesting. But it didn't. No interesting ideas, even the language is boring and not what I would expect from someone saying that he wanted to write a book for many years (and I'm not even a native speaker). I agree with the other reviewer that the author didn't try to make the book interesting to the reader and missed so many opportunities to make it feel vibrant.
I reeeeally wanted to love this book! Following the adventure on Instagram was great, but I just felt like the book barely skimmed the surface in every aspect. The storytelling, the description, all of it could have gone deeper, and instead it just...didn’t. I don’t want to take away from the experience, because WOW, what a feat. It just unfortunately didn’t translate into a novel for me.
I am surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. I usually am not a fan of white bros who want to travel the world on their bike and are all "wow, it was really scary to spend a few days in a poor country where people live their whole lives," but back to why I liked it. I read this during quarantine and I've been to many of the places he talks about and he has a gift for vividly describing the patagonia and cusco and Mexico such that I felt like I was there again. So that is one reason. The other is that Jenkins is a good writer and introspective enough to give the text flavor but not so self-absorbed to wallow in it. His wrestling with his sexuality and faith was really well-done and at the end I just wanted to go over there and give him a hug and tell him to just be himself. He seems to leave it at an unresolved place, which I liked, but also--Jedidiah--it's ok. You're a good boy and you should love who you want to love.
The story has the bones to be compelling, but lacks the substance. Jedidiah is a privileged man who got to bike across North America to “find” himself. I’m not entirely sure if he accomplished that, but I can say I’m not pleased I spent so much time reading about it.
A lot of complicated feelings about this book. Mostly I feel confused at the title since the author seems more asleep at the end than he did at the start. I kept waiting for him to get to the real stuff, and I do believe he had real stuff he could have explored, and he never did. He references a close relationship with his mom and she visits him twice on his trip, but she also calls him disgusting for his sexuality and he says he just doesn't bring it up with her anymore. There wasnt any resolution or confrontation or even a lot of tension about what feels like a major conflict. I also kept waiting for the author to examine his pretty obvious obsession with others' perception of his trip, wondering several times if everyone was thinking about him and if they were impressed by him. It made me sad that he was alone in some really beautiful places and obsessing over this and it made me even more confused that he didnt seem to notice or question this behavior. Truly just such a confusing experience for me, and all of it seeming to stem from the author's impressive lack of awareness.
Perhaps the biggest missed opportunity fueled by the author's self indulgence is how little he seems to interact or care about any of the people or cultures he's encountering. He couldn't have been more obviously using Latin america as a tool for him to feel a feeling or fart out a pseudo deep thought while looking at a mountain. Not learning spanish is just the start of it. He seemed so put off by any food or drink that weren't street tacos and craft beer, made some pretty tokenized observations about native people he does encounter (who he cant understand, obviously), and spends the majority of his travel time with other white travelers. He makes some comment toward the end about how travel creates empathy and space to see more perspectives and I just wondered how different this book would have been if he had actually interacted with locals and their native food and customs rather than driving all across mexico city looking for a hipster coffee shop run by someone who speaks English.
Also just felt confused by Weston and Jed's relationship, at times finding Jed so judgmental of Weston and marijuana in a way that was incredibly exhausting and at other times thinking Weston really was manipulating Jed with money. At least this part felt realistic; Jed mentions that travel really allows you to know someone completely and I think travel relationships are often complicated and tense. So the fact that they were both flawed and contradictory with each other wasnt confusing I guess, but again, no confrontation or insight came from this.
All this being said, two stars because honestly, it got me thinking and feeling strongly enough to write out this whole review. In some ways I think his privilege and self indulgence is something I can point out so quickly because it feels like a mirror to parts of myself, a lot of people I went to college with, a lot of people I know. It makes me uncomfortable. I'm judging him for being blind with privilege and shallow and acting like he's better than others and it's literally this judgment that makes me feel so deep and woke and superior because of it. What a messed up vicious cycle!! And really, doesn't that make me just as insufferable as I'm making him out to be? Two stars cause it did what most travelogues set out to do - got me inspired and thinking about who I want to be and what I want to do in life. Unfortunately for the author, this book inspired me to use his story as a guide for what not to do.
I enjoy travel writing and hoped this would be in the tradition of Cheryl Strayed or Paul Theroux. The premise intrigues: biking from Portland, Oregon all the way to Patagonia, the southernmost point of Chile. I would have liked for Jed to show more self-reflection, but again and again he makes a trite, skin-deep observation about himself, about religion, about the mass of humanity around him, but his attention glances off and he misses the deeper questions.
His viewpoint seems entrenched in evangelical Christianity, and I found his American missionary mindset difficult to stomach. He rarely seemed to notice the lives of the people around him, and I felt that even Weston, his travel companion for most of the trip, was more of a background character to him than someone worthy of deeper notice.
As a gay woman who was raised in a fundamentalist Christian cult, I found it very hard to watch his doubts and questions regarding his own sexuality fizzle out and never seem to culminate in any self-confrontation. I wonder if he can see the way his mother's guilt-tripping and conditional love manipulate him and hold him back.
The premise is great. The execution, disappointing and lackluster.
Disclosure - I received this book as a promotion, through Crown Publishing and PRH, and Jed's social media promotion team. THANK YOU!
Now to the important part. You NEED to read this book.
To begin, I followed Jed on Instagram during his bike ride from Oregon to Patagonia, so I've been waiting for this book since 2014. It did not disappoint. It's a story of a man that is concerned that his job and daily routine has made his brain 'fall asleep' - as opposed to children, who are awake, and asking questions, and living summers that last forever (remember that summer?!). There is a quote from Jed from a short movie his friend Kenny made on the trip - "The routine is the enemy of time. It makes it fly...by." To see the video look here - https://vimeo.com/120206922
This book was meant to shake up Jed's life at the age of 30, when he would live on a bicycle for 16 months and cycle down to Patagonia. Spoiler alert (but not really, because it's in the first 30 pages) - he falls off his bike one of the first times he gets on it in clip less pedals, THE DAY HE LEAVES. Also, he does not know any Spanish the day he leaves for South America. At least he was prepared in other ways.
Once he left the USA, I enjoyed the book even more. As someone that's traveled a bit, I love that he demonstrates that people, at their heart, really want to help other people. Even if it's a dirty smelly cycling gringo with minimal Spanish skills. His struggles throughout his time on the bike are well thought out, including struggles with religion, sexuality, friendships, and family.
Overall, I loved the book - and the ending too. Some people may not like the ending. But the whole book is about the journey, the kindness of strangers, and pushing yourself into something that you may be uncomfortable with - and coming out the other side.
Okay everyone, time for a drinking game! Inspired by none other than my latest read, To Shake the Sleeping Self: The Longest 336-Page Book I've Ever Read (pretty sure I got that subtitle correct). Get a shot glass and your favorite alcoholic beverage and take a shot every time:
1. Every time Jed and Weston get to a new town and drink craft beer. Half a shot if it's just regular beer. 2. Every time Weston pays for weed while telling Jed he has no money. 3. Every time Weston lets Jed pay his way while claiming that he doesn't care about money or comfort. 4. Every time Jed has friends and family come visit them on their trip. 5. Every time they are given free food and/or lodging. 6. Every time Jed mentions his parents and their 'walk'. 7. Every time Jed mentions God, Christianity, his conservative upbringing, or his wavering faith. 8. Every time Jed mentions the fact that he wants to kiss boys but held himself back because he wanted to prove he was a 'good Christian'. 9. Every time Jed frets about money right before spending money on something relatively frivolous. 10. Every time Jed displays his privilege without realizing that he has privilege.
You still among the living? Wow, I'm impressed. You can hold your liquor much better than Jed can hold his marijuana!
Okay, now that SnarkTime is over, let's get to the actual review. I was excited to read this book because I'm trying to get more into non-fiction these past couple of years and I've found that I tend to enjoy these kind of memoirs of people doing things I would never choose to do myself. My favorite of the bunch is Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer, which chronicles him climbing Mt. Everest during one of the biggest tragedies that's ever happened on the mountain. It's interesting and informative and full of tension and tragedy.
Unfortunately, this book did next to nothing for me. I thought the beginning was good, especially when he was talking about how his parents walked across America back in the 70s. I did think it was a little disingenuous when he said that it hadn't even entered his mind that he was following in their footsteps by wanting to go out on this journey. Like...really? We're supposed to believe that this is something they both talk about all of the time, to the point that you know the stories backwards and forwards, but it never entered your mind until your mom pointed it out that you're taking a page out of your parents book? Okay, sure dude.
That moment was the beginning of a bunch of little inconsistencies that just rubbed me the wrong way. There's a moment where he talks about taking a hit from a gravity bong and it having no effect on him, then later on puking his guts out after smoking weed because he's a 'lightweight'.
Weston (one of the biggest freeloading douchebags in all the land) can't afford $12 for a hostel bed but he can just fly to Hawaii on a whim? And Jed never calls him out on it. He's annoyed that Weston scrounged up money for weed, but not for a trip to Hawaii. Ooookay...
Jed frets about money but is able to fly home for Thanksgiving round trip from South America?
Jed's mother gives him $100 which is 'a lot of money for her'...after flying from the U.S. to South America? And then she does it again a few months later? That ain't cheap.
There were absolutely more instances that left me scratching my head, but as I listened to this on audiobook, I didn't take notes each time I noticed something that didn't make sense.
If it was just these little moments, I think I would've been okay. But the truth is...this book is boring. It feels manufactured and inauthentic. Now, I'm not saying he didn't do this trip. It's obvious he did. I went to his (and 'Weston's') instagrams after I was done reading the book and he chronicled his trip pretty thoroughly. But it almost feels like, instead of taking this trip because he was feeling adrift in his life with regards to his sexuality and faith, he took the trip so he could write and sell a book. I know that makes me sound straight-up jaded. And maybe I am. Maybe he had no intention of writing about his experiences when he started. But he admits himself that he and Weston tried to get Instagram to endorse them. It's obvious to me that this wasn't just about him taking some sort of spiritual journey.
The first half or so of the book kept me engaged, but it became repetitive. Most days consisted of the following: 1. Ride bikes 2. Stop in town 3. Find Someone to let them sleep on their couch/in their yard. 4. Score weed 5. Smoke weed and drink craft beer (seriously, I'm from the PNW. There is A LOT of craft beer up here. I've been to beer festivals. I've never heard someone talk about drinking craft beer as much as this guy does.) 6. Wax philosophical and question his faith. 7. Sleep; repeat. It just got to be really monotonous, which shouldn't be the case when we're talking about traveling from Oregon state to Chile. There are a couple of passages where he talks about the history of certain peoples, and that is interesting, but it's interspersed with sections of him talking about his religion and his relationship with God and I'm like, "Cooooool...can you maybe think about someone other than yourself for five flipping minutes?"
He doesn't seem to understand the inherent privilege he has as a white American man, even though there are times where he mentions it in relation to the people he meets on his journey. But it feel almost flippant. He admits he's privileged, says he feels guilty, but doesn't actually seem to grow beyond that. I mean, seriously. He is a 30-year old man who is able to: 1. Quit his job/take a sabbatical for a year and a half. 2. Purchase an expensive bicycle and gear for the trip. 3. Fly home on a whim in the middle of the trip. 4. Surround himself with friends/family who are able to meet up with him along the way to 'hang out' for days and even weeks at a time. And yet, he never actually acknowledges that just the fact that he is able to do all of those things IS A PRIVILEGE. Whether or not your parents were wealthy or you are a self-made person, that doesn't take away the inherent privilege.
And let's talk for a second about Weston. I see a lot of critical reviews that said that while they didn't like Jed, they liked Weston. WHYYYYY?!?! Weston was a manipulative freeloader! He acted like he didn't give a shit about money and didn't mind sleeping outside, knowing that Jed wouldn't want to do that, and in turn that Jed would offer to pay for their rooms. I went to his Instagram after reading the book and looked at a few of the pictures from that time and he even says that he was broke, and hoping Jed would pay for the room he wanted, but knowing that it wasn't up to him. But he wasn't actually broke. Also, he looks EXACTLY how I pictured him just by the things he says and does in the book. In that way, I guess the author portrayed him in a believeable way. But the way he gives him a free pass throughout this trip enabling his shittiness and then minimizing it after Weston leaves was aggravating.
There are also several instances where I felt vaguely uncomfortable as Jed would talk about indigenous people as being mystical or magical in some way because they're connected to the land or something. One woman tells them she doesn't think it will rain, and they believe her because they look at her and assume that she can see what the weather is going to be (sorry I don't have an exact quote...audiobook) then when it rains they're shocked.
As far as the actual writing craft is concerned...it was okay. I know a lot of people are moved by some of the philosophical stuff in this book. But for me...it was just stuff. Again, it didn't feel authentic to me. There are all these insights that I know we're supposed to see as deeply profound, but they sounded like any number of things that could be found in a mediocre self-help book.
One last thing that bothers me is that there's no resolution with regards to the conflict about his sexuality. I'm not saying I want to him to write a conversation that didn't actually happen, but it would've been nice to know if his mother has become more accepting of him and what their relationship is like. It was something that was focused on so heavily in the text that to not have any sort of resolution just didn't feel right.
I'm not going to give up my search for another Into Thin Air, but this definitely wasn't it.
I really enjoy Jedidiah’s vignettes on Instagram & elsewhere - they’re thought-provoking and unique. But I rarely found this book as interesting. As some other folks mentioned, he seemed to glaze over engaging w spirituality, sexuality, and privilege, in any meaningful way. Or he mentions a topic briefly and then moves on. I didn’t really feel like I got a whole picture of the folks he stayed with. They seemed to be generalized a bit. It felt much more to be cursory descriptions of what he was doing and where, without ever really getting into the teeth of it. Eh, maybe the novel just isn’t the best mode for his writing.
I thought this was going to be quite different to what it was. I brought a lot of expectation to it, probably quite unfairly, and it didn't/couldn't deliver. Essentially I wanted it to be Wild by Cheryl Strayed but more Gary Snyder-esque. I wanted it to be a Buddhist , spiritual nature thing when it was actually a nerdy Christian (kinda his description) goes on a long bike ride. I enjoyed the discussions on faith, especially linked with the author being gay, but as a whole, I wasn't transformed....
well. i was excited about this book because i love bike touring stories, since i myself am a bike tourer without the stamina to go more than a few hundred miles, but i enjoy reading about others who did. most of these books are written by straight white dudes so i was excited to hear this was by a gay dude. one might think, "but how does your sexuality effect how you ride a bicycle?" and it of course doesn't, but it can effect the way you are treated and therefore change your whole trip. ANYWAY. this book started off strong and quickly lapsed into disappointment. he's...not a really great storyteller. i know touring can be mundane, but he makes it, like, REALLY mundane. i also got mad about how when he started his trip, he had NEVER ridden and didn't even know how to raise his bike seat? like, come on, that's so easy! i got mad thinking about how much shit is talked about cheryl strayed for taking a hike without any experience, how she is blamed for people who don't know what they're doing allegedly invading the pacific crest trail every year and ruining the experience of pristine brilliant REAL hikers. do people complain about this guy, even though he is as unprepared as possible? seriously, you either unscrew one screw with your multi-tool OR raise the quick-release lever and pull the seat up or down. it's the easiest thing that takes about five seconds to learn and really changes your whole experience of riding. but....not only does he not know how to do this before beginning a NINE THOUSAND MILE bike trip, but he shares this in the book? well. i hope this book does not inspire bros who don't know a damn thing about bikes to take their own journeys. wouldn't want that. heaven forbid. and that's another thing. if you are looking for a bike tour book not written by a bro, may i suggest the forgotten 1981 gem "Daisy, Daisy: A Grandmother's Journey Across America on a Bicycle" by Christian Miller? because, dear reader, this guy is a bro. whether he's playing beer pong, accidentally throwing up in his underwear (seriously) or wanting desperately to quit but not doing so because he doesn't want to be seen as a "pussy," he is a bro. and constantly railing about the pressure he feels to be a "real man" despite being an unathletic, feminine, closeted celibate christian gay guy. and i get that's a real issue, but the way it was written i just didn't care. i give it two stars because, like i said, i am a sucker for any kind of bike story, and it was interesting enough that i read the whole thing. but, for such an intense adventure story, it felt like it needed a lot more.
There are so many missed opportunities for connection, for discovery, for learning. He depicts the locals as a shamed, vacant, conquered people. I fully checked out when he literally says, "I didn't want them thinking I was some conquistador." Don't worry Jed, I peeked at your Instagram account and I don't think anyone was confusing your Coachella vibe for a conqueror of empires.
I had to read this book with a pen so I could keep track of all of the inconsistencies. While Jed's decisions to not learn Spanish on his year and half bike ride through Latin America, or proceed with this trip with no perceivable motives are frustrating, I can deal. What I can't deal with is his selective Googling of information before writing this book.
He says thing like "Mexico City is a beast, the second largest city in the world..." which is just untrue. Or that the cathedral in downtown CDMX is "the second largest cathedral in the Americas," which is a simple Google search away from being debunked. Jed also feigns interest in anthropology or the Incan Empire when it's convenient but never states these topics as an excitement for entering into this trip. This was literally his opportunity to write his story the way he wants it to be heard and he fell so so flat.
I genuinely hated this book and most of the time I just didn't care enough to stick with him until the end. His motives are tainted by Instagram and it becomes very unclear why he is continuing this journey. Is it for him, or is it because he doesn't want to disappoint his fans?
Also, another previously-unknown-to-Jed traveler named Harry Devert goes missing on a similar trek around the same time and Jed invokes him like a spirit guide and then never mentions him again.
Lots of "craft beer" lots of describing other travelers as "chubby white tourists" and lots of conversations reminiscent of an 18 years old's dorm room after a Philosophy 101 class.
A huge let down. The author begins the trip struggling, mainly with his faith and his sexuality. Neither of these things he's found head way on by the end if the book, he's the same except he rode a bike. From the adventure standpoint he spends so much time hitch hiking like bro weren't you supposed to bike. Bad author, unengaging text, and he seems very pretentious.
My favorite read of 2019 so far, this book leaves no truth untold and no emotion unfelt. I truly felt like I was on the journey with Jedidiah and definitely got that vibe from the moment he wrote in the very beginning that the book was to be read like a story over dinner. This is not a book that can really be described, it really is one that has to be experienced by the reader. I was slightly disappointed after reading other people's feelings and reviews on this book, but at the same time realized that different people get different things out of books and that is the beauty of them! I am thankful that I got so much out of this, and really felt like I was able to gain different perspective by following Jedidah's journey. The only thing I would like to know is what became of his friendship with Weston? A must-read for all adventure lovers!
A slower read for me. It was just...fine. There was nothing that felt extra great about this book and also nothing I specifically disliked. The journey itself seemed quite interesting and it was fun to read about but idk the way it was written didn’t get me overly excited. I also always like a book with a good ole crisis of faith and this book provided. Makes me wanna go to Patagonia
I didn’t finish this book. I returned this book after 5 chapters. I have never ever returned a book, so I thought this deserved a review. Maybe it isn’t fair that I am reviewing on just a few chapters, but I felt the need to share. I just don’t believe the author. Maybe I am wrong and this is of course, my opinion. But, he never once rode a bike or researched before heading on this trip? He wasn’t influenced by his parents who went on a similar voyage in their youth? He has no money? He hit a gravity bong out of the sink and didn’t get high at all? I just don’t buy it and it made it too hard to read his story. The author has a lot of famous friends who recommend his book, weird. I wanted to like it, disappointing.
I almost didn’t read this past the first chapter or two since I thought it was going to be too religious for my liking. Turns out it was only in spots that made monumental sense on the parts of his journey that sparked some more spiritual thinking. I can see why some reviewers thought he glossed over some things, but it is a lot to tackle in a travelogue over a year and a half with so a young man trying to come to terms with a very religious upbringing, sexuality that contradicts it, and following in the footsteps of famous traveling parents. I didn’t follow him on Instagram for this trip, but it would be nice to see some of his trip photos, so I will look for those. I really enjoyed this book, but not surprisingly since it is my favorite genre.
Most of us will never bicycle from Oregon to Patagonia. But this book provides the next best thing. It provides the opportunity to traverse great, lonely deserts, hike majestic mountains, and cycle through wide, haunting spaces.
But these are just the canvas on which the author (along with his readers) is invited to rethink his beliefs, his relationships, and his faith. It is at once beautiful, disturbing, and delicious. I can’t wait to read Mr. Jenkins next book.