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Drinking the Rain: A Memoir

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  636 ratings  ·  98 reviews
A memoir of spiritualism and self-discovery from the acclaimed, award-winning author

At fifty, Alix Kates Shulman, author of the celebrated feminist novel, Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen, left a city life dense with political activism, family and literary community, and went to live alone on an island off the coast of Maine. On a windswept beach, in a cabin with no plumbing, p
Paperback, 256 pages
Published July 5th 2004 by North Point Press (first published 1994)
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Average rating 3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  636 ratings  ·  98 reviews

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Amy Wilder
Nov 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
When I read this book I was twenty years old and it had never occurred to me before but I realized it was quite true that I might live my whole life without ever being really on my own.

That year I drove south to Mexico and north to Idaho and then back home from Arizona to Boston - all three trips on my own (and very much over my father's objections) - and I was keenly aware of everything I had been taught to fear about being a woman alone in a strange place. Almost nothing happened to me that y
Susan Albert
Sep 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A tender, revealing memoir about a woman (a long-time feminist/pacifist activist) at mid-life, dealing with a divorce and a new lover and trying to find a place for herself in nature.
May 17, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: personal-account
This book doesn't inspire the reader very much; it's mostly self serving and superficial. Only the last few pages had any thing worthwhile to offer. I had trouble getting through the endless food reports, what she ate, how she prepared it, where the food came from, and on and on. (Why do women authors do this? Sorry, Ladies, but it's true. So many women authors feel the need to write about what everyone is eating and who spent how much time in the kitchen. Male authors focus on action, I guess, ...more
May 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: maine-books
This is a beautiful coming-of-age (age 50, that is) memoir of a woman living on an inhabited Maine coastal island. Moving away from New York City for a while, Shulman learns to slow down, forage for mussels, and live life simply for a restorative spell.
Jun 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite "coming of age, surviving divorce" books ever!
Cosmic Arcata
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Memorable. I especially like her wildcrafting her food on the island.
She has a second book about her "husband". Did she really get a divorce or is this a second husband?
Jun 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This teaches about solitude and finding what really matters. I was there on the island. I could see nubble. The author bright the string alive.
Tejas Janet
May 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
I struggled thru this book at times and came away with mixed feelings. The author has great ability with expository writing, but left me swimming at times thru too many repetitive details. However, it was still a really good book.

The downside is that by book's end, I had tired of reading overly specific listings of wild foods harvested and descriptions of foods prepared. Editing towards this end, I think, would have raised this book from 4 to 5 stars for me.

Detail is crucial in fine writing, b
Aug 06, 2012 rated it really liked it

I have a pretty close connection to Long Island Maine and go there every summer. I know exactly the house she lived in and have stared at it from the beach below many an afternoon thinking two things: one, it had been abandoned and two who the hell would ever leave the most amazing and beautiful spot on earth or at least not spend every second of every summer there? My sister had told me about the writer that owned it- the story of her living in seclusion there and how she came to write "Drinki
Susan Braiden
If I could only own one book, it would be this. Alix Kates Shulman helped me discover the art of long, slow conversations; the abundance in solitude; fearlessness and resilience in reinvention; and the gifts of the natural feast. I discovered this book at a time when, like the author, I was approaching 50, wrestling with the death of a marriage and a restless hunger to reinvent myself (or perhaps actually meet myself for the very first time). Reading it is like immersing in a love letter that yo ...more
Mar 17, 2009 rated it it was ok
Keeping with my current "back to basics" theme, in books, I am reading this. The woman of privilege heads to Maine to live in a cabin alone. And finds her food on the ground and in the water. Okay, so there are flaws. But it's a placeholder, for when my hold books come in. Why do they torture me and make me wait? It is detestable.

Okay, so only the first third of this book is actually compelling. I enjoyed the writing about discovering that nature isn't so bad after all (I might be coming around
Jan 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
While the world was on an Eat, Pray, Love craze I found this gem of a memoir in a small bookstore on Cape Cod. I have since lent it out to some of my favorite people and almost everyone has loved it. Although the author seems a bit self serving at times, and that can be a huge turn off, her story is fascinating and brave-and quite funny at times. This is a book that proves the power of overcoming your fears and flaws and learning to live again mid-life. ...more
Cath Van
Oct 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: diary-memoir
Easily one of this years favourites. I started out at only two pages a day as I wanted to enjoy the book as long as possible, yet soon squeezed in a few more pages every day. I liked the way the story built from experiencing the island and how to live on less and in solitude, to connecting those experiences to mainlandlife and it's noise and distraction, and in the third section to the world with it's waste and pollution, making it into a book in which all Shulman's feminist issues of years gone ...more
Jennifer P
A little dated, but a lovely exploration of solitude in nature.
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read this book soon after it came out in 1995. I loved it then, but I appreciate it even more on this second reading. Beautifully written, almost poetry, it recounts the author's time seeking solitude and a better connection with her self on an island off the coast of Maine as she turns fifty. She lived for part of each year following, in an undeveloped cabin, securing most of her food from the surrounding earth and sea, discovering the abundance of nature in the mostly overlooked plants surro ...more
Feb 10, 2020 rated it liked it
I have mixed feelings about this book. I found it at a Little Free Library, and I loved the premise: a 50-year-old woman leaves her comfortable life in NYC to spend the summer in a small, remote Maine cabin with no running water, ostensibly to write. What really happens is that she embarks on a journey of self-discovery, learning that she's far stronger and more capable than she ever imagined. An early feminist, she finds that she actually enjoys tasks of domesticity. Good so far, right?! But th ...more
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Read this years ago when I was too young to appreciate it, but now, approaching fifty, I found it on my bookshelf and immediately wanted to re-read it. The author writes about spending summers alone on a remote island in Maine, finding herself at the age of fifty in simple pleasures like foraging and cooking wild foods, reading, and writing. During the rest of the year she continues to write and teach as a visiting professor in places like Colorado and Hawaii. I am so drawn to the idea that we c ...more
Barbara von der Osten
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nature, memoir
This is memoir extraordinaire. A woman finds her independence, and realizes she is a solitaire after spending a summer in a cabin on an island off the coast of Portland, Maine. She learns to eat what is grown naturally on the island, and catch the crabs and mussels that are abundant there. I don’t think I can say enough good things about the content, tone, or structure of this book. I will definitely keep it and read again someday.
Nov 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Really charming memoir of a NYC girl who finds herself on her yearly pilmagrages to an island in Maine. I loved the descriptions of how she forages the coastline to eat every spring and summer.

What really hooked me was when, in the midst of a divorce a long time coming, she gets offered a residency in Boulder. Her housing offer is the Chautauqua cabins I had just seen at the base of the Flatirons a few weeks ago.
Kelly Kittel
Sep 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Like many others here, I loved the first part of this book but found that it fell off after that. Loved the idyllic setting. What woman of a certain age doesn't dream of such a thing? Calgon, take me away. Still thinking about the author's exhortation to find time for long thoughts, however. I often use my one long lap of swimming in the ocean for just such a thing, but sometimes even that isn't long enough to find clarity. Still, it's a start...
Feb 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Beautiful. Marriage, divorce, children, feeling the constant pressure of what we “should” be doing, embracing simplicity, and creating new relationships when we think we couldn’t possibly have the time or room. A single life with a million paths - recommend.
Pamela Small
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
I loved the simplicity the author sought and described so beautifully.
Suzette Neuenhaus
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wish I were as brave as the author--
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. I think i might like to reread it some day.
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book started off great then just fizzled out for me I tried to read it again a few times but no it was not grabbing me.
Apr 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good book. Either you get it or you don't.
Aug 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Solitude and activism
Nov 10, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
ETA: After thinking more about this book and reflecting on my enjoyment of the other four star books I read this month I’m downgrading this to three stars.

I read this book primarily because it takes place on an island in Maine (where I live) and appeared to be about a woman’s self-discovery while learning to live off the land. Plus it was basically an intense writing retreat so that all appealed to me. And those were my favorite parts of this book. Her talking about the island and the sea and t
Feb 24, 2017 rated it liked it
While this had the chance to be an interesting introspective, it turned out to just be boring. There was a bit of mind, life, what's-the-purpose-of-it-all exploration but a good part of the book was just logistics which I felt didn't directly lead to a more enlightening perspective on things and so seemed like just filling space. It was fine but not thrilling.
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Raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Alix attended public schools and planned to be a lawyer like her dad. But in college at Case Western Reserve University she was smitten by philosophy and upon graduation moved to New York City to study philosophy at Columbia grad school. After some years as an encyclopedia editor, she enrolled at New York University, where she took a degree in mathematics, and later, whi ...more

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