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The Way Through the Woods: Of Mushrooms and Mourning

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  734 ratings  ·  137 reviews
A grieving widow feeling disconnected from life discovers a most unexpected obsession--hunting for mushrooms--in a story of healing and purpose.
Long Litt Woon moved to Norway from Malaysia as a nineteen-year-old exchange student. Soon after her arrival, she met Eiolf. He became the love of her life. After thirty-two years together, Eiolf's sudden death left Woon struggling
Hardcover, 291 pages
Published July 2nd 2019 by Spiegel & Grau (first published August 29th 2017)
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Girl Underground
Jul 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is about foraging for mushrooms and about grieving losing a husband.

I recently refreshed the word "apophenia" in my memory. It's where you perceive apparent patterns and relationships in random, meaningless details in the environment (thanks, Wiki). This book touches a lot on apophenia, which is one of my favorite things. Those little signs act as anchors to memory. It's nice how Long found those anchors in mushrooms.
I couldn’t resist the sound of a bereavement memoir crossed with a mushroom hunting guide. When Long met her husband, Eiolf Olsen, she was an 18-year-old Malaysian exchange student in Stavanger, Norway. Meeting Eiolf changed the whole course of her life, keeping her in Europe for good; decades later, her life changed forever once again when Eiolf dropped dead at work one morning. “If anyone had told me that mushrooms would be my lifeline, the thing that would help me back onto my feet and quite ...more
Jul 17, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m strangely drawn to a weird niche category of books where the author takes up a particular—and often unusual—hobby to deal with grief after the loss of a loved one. Helen Macdonald’s H is For Hawk falls into this category, as does Katie Arnold’s more recent book about ultrarunning, Running Home. So Litt Woon Long’s new memoir, The Way Through the Woods, in which she describes being drawn into the world of mushroom hunting after the sudden death of her husband, was immediately appealing to me. ...more
Ania Gaska
I love memoirs that combine personal experience with learning, and this one has sucked me in and made me feel for the author and just as excited about mushrooms as she is! I want to go to Norway now!
Scribe Publications
This is one of the most surprising and original books I have read in a long time — so much to learn and reflect about the human condition and about a natural phenomenon.
Knut Olav Åmås (Norwegian Critic, Commentator, and Writer)

It is poetic, warm and moving, and steeped in life wisdom.
Sissel Gran (Norwegian Psychologist and Author)

[A] heartfelt and honest account of overcoming loss that will give hope to readers in a simple, yet profound way. In her beautifully written first book, Long shares a w
Sophia Pekowsky
May 07, 2020 rated it liked it
This was such a charming book and a super original conceit! I loved the author's narrative voice, she sounded so matter-of-fact and lovely. While it definitely did inspire me to try some urban foraging, it ultimately did not hold my attention, I think it's hard to maintain interest in mushrooms for an extended period of time if you're not a true fanatic. I would have liked more info on the mourning and maybe a little less on the mushrooms.
Dani (The Pluviophile Writer)
"We live in a society that regards death as a defeat for medical science rather than a part of life. In a culture that allows little place for death in the public area, grief becomes a private affair, viewed as a luxury we cannot afford."
4/5 stars.
ebook, 182 pages.
Read from June 16, 2019 to June 20, 2019.

When I spotted this book off Netgalley I was interested in reading it due to its themes on grief, yet I found myself very intrigued with the information provided on mushrooms and enjoying these
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I find I have a bit of curiosity about people who find an interest or hobby of something I would probably not ever try, so this book was very interesting to me. The author, chose to take a class on mushrooming to help her get through the grief of having lost her husband. They had once talked about possibly taking a class and now was her opportunity, to feel connected to him and to lose herself from her thoughts.
In this books you will find out about the world of mushrooming, a fascinating group o
When Long Litt Woon's husband, Eiolf, unexpectedly passed away she worked through her grief in an unusual way - she became a mushroom forager. She took a mushrooms for beginners course that was offered in Oslo and after that first class she found herself inexplicably drawn to the world of mushrooms and foraging. Such was her interest that she ended up taking an exam to become a mushroom inspector, something only Norway offers its citizens. She also travels all over the world to mushroom festival ...more
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was so weird and wonderful! I love memoirs, and this was a surprising blend of encyclopedic information about mushrooms and reflections on grief and loss.

Litt Woon's husband passed away suddenly, and as she begins to navigate life without her best friend and partner in life, she joins the Greater Oslo Fungi and Useful Plants Society and finds a community of mushroom enthusiasts and foragers. This book is surprising and weird in many ways — its style is staticky, switching back and fort
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"I sense something new, therefore I am a new person."

This insightful line is at the heart of Long's earnest memoir. After her husband's sudden death, Long finds herself adrift in a cold, strange space, with no path back to the familiar.

Long finds an unexpected way forward when she becomes interested in mushrooms, which comprise a universe unto itself that has existed unnoticed alongside hers -- until she starts paying attention. Gradually, she is able to map out a whole new landscape full of nov
Alex Delogu
The book is about mourning and mushroom foraging. It is an excellent introduction to mushroom foraging with some shorter notes on grief and loss. These notes are excellent and her accounts of loss are touching and profound. It is almost a shame that there wasn't more on this, but also fitting that such a painful topic is kept relatively short. A lot of the information on mushrooms will be familiar to anyone with some basic foraging knowledge, but still well written and a unique perspective on th ...more
Alicia Farmer
3.5 stars. I think one would need at least a passing interest in or familiarity with mushrooms to enjoy this book. If you're in this niche audience, check it out.

I expected more integration of the author's loss and her reflections on life gained through mushrooming. Instead, there were a few parts about her husband, how he died, and how his death left a gaping hole in her world. These were sparsely interspersed with much longer sections on mushrooms: how to gain familiarity in identification, ho
Jun 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4.67. I HATE mushrooms, but I loved this.
Jennifer M.
Jun 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For starters, I knew nothing about this book going in. In fact, I actually thought, based on the title and the cover, that it was going to be a thriller. Imagine my surprise, when it’s a book about mushrooms.

What a great surprise it was. The author takes us on an account of her recently passed husband, while educating us on the treasures we can find, just outside in the woods.

I was delightfully surprised by this book and actually learned a lot about a topic I’d never previously had any interest
Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Perfect for the outdoor lover. Nice book. Read easily.

Thanks to author,publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book. While I got the book for free,it had no bearing on the rating I gave it.
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mushrooms and mourning - an unlikely couple of subjects, but Litt Woon Long makes them into the perfect pairing. Her descriptions of loss and grieving are beautifully balanced by a growing excitement about and budding knowledge of edible and poisonous fungi. Halfway through the book, I went for a walk in the woods and saw dozens of mushrooms I'd never noticed before. A small but true joy. Not that I'm going to learn all the names of various species, but I am utterly hooked by the notion of the c ...more
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a lovely, beautifully crafted book that speaks to the healing power of stepping into new, unfamiliar territory and taking risks to heal from grief. She blends together the work of grieving as both meticulous and painstaking as well as vast and joyous. Miraculous, both.
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful book about our links to nature and grief. The writing is educational, poetic, and humorous. Definitely recommend.
If you've ever wondered if you should eat that mushroom you found on your hike, this is the book for you.
Elliot Stoller
One way to deal with the grief and sadness of losing a loved one is to find a passion that keeps you interested in living.
Amy Siemel
Oct 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Understated, thoughtful and very nice to read. An interesting journey through grief and mushrooming.
Maurynne  Maxwell

A sweetly meandering memoir of loss and living. Litt Woon met her husband in Norway, where she had come from Malaysia to study anthropology. They got married, she stayed in Norway, and they had a lovely marriage as anthropologist and architect until one day with no warning her husband Eiolf fell dead as soon as he walked into work.
This is not a memoir about grief, however—it’s a memoir about moving through grief, that metaphorical forest where we get lost between life and death. Long went throu
Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting read, lots of information about the world of mushrooms and those who seek them out. Set mostly in Norway but she does talk about other places she has hunted mushrooms. And yes, for those of you seeking "enlightenment" she does have a chapter on "'shrooms!" Also includes some intriguing recipes. From Amazon: A grieving widow discovers a most unexpected form of healing—hunting for mushrooms.

“Moving . . . Long tells the story of finding hope after despair lightly and artfully, wi
Kylie Purdie
Apr 17, 2020 rated it liked it
It's not an automatic pairing really - mushrooms and mourning. Long Litt Woon however brings the two together in a perfect symbiosis as she processes the grief of her husband's sudden passing.
This book is beautifully presented. It's a pleasure to hold and feel it - I think it's a book that needs to be read in hard copy, not electronically. I just feel you would lose something in digital format. The cover is textured, the pages thick and it has lovely little drawings of mushrooms scattered throug
Michael Davis
Sep 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Applies to the Audible version - I'm just now getting back to review this remarkable book. The hook here was that simple things - things that capture our attention - have the power to alter our life experience. In the case of this author, she was mourning the loss of her husband. As passing through a fog, conventional platitudes, groups, and wisdom just didn't fit.

In some way, though, mushrooms - yes, mushrooms - capture her attention long enough and strong enough to help her connect with the p
Julia Raymer
Jan 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first came across this memoir in a book-shop outside of Atlanta. As a plant enthusiast, the cover and title caught my eye, and as a psychologist I was immediately interested in the connection between mushrooming and grieving. But I didn't pick it up until a few months later, after my marriage. As someone in an interracial, intercultural marriage who is living outside of my home country, I have been subconsciously drawn to books that reflect my current circumstances; I was pleasantly surprised ...more
Out of the Bex
Sep 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Both somber and hopeful. A book on grief that is actually realistic and relatable.

The Way Through the Woods is two-fold. On the one hand, it is a book about a woman who was shocked and grief-stricken by the sudden death of her husband. On the other, it is about a personal journey into the world of mushrooms and how the road of natural discovery ultimately led her back to herself.

Grief is extremely difficult to talk about. I don't know that most cultures truly grasp how best to handle the pain
Oct 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, non-fiction, mycology
When Long Litt Woon's husband dies unexpectedly, she finds herself adrift. Doubly so, as she is a Malaysian living in his home-country, Norway. Bit by bit, she is drawn to mushroom hunting, and her quest for mushrooms sets her on a new path.

The dual narratives tell of the mushroom world and of Long's grief. While the book goes some way to show how the smallest detail can spark a memory, the strands have limited success melding together. They are even presented in different formats: the ebook swi
Melissa Winther Kristensen
Oct 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I got this book recommended by my sister-in-law, and I’m really glad I read it.
This is not one of the best books I’ve ever read and it didn’t emotionally touch me on a deeper level. However, it made me smile and it made me laugh.
I’m glad I read it at this point in my life, I might not have enjoyed it a couple years ago like I did now. It comforted me in a time were I really needed it.
How she describes her relationship with her late husband is how I imagine true love to be, and what I hope to
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