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Epic Solitude: A Story of Survival and a Quest for Meaning in the Far North

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  315 ratings  ·  64 reviews
All her life, Katherine Keith has hungered for remote, wild places that fill her soul with freedom and peace. Her travels take her across America, but it is in the vast and rugged landscape of Alaska that she finds her true home. Alaska is known as a place where people disappear--at least a couple thousand go missing each year. But the same vast and rugged landscape that c ...more
Published February 4th 2020 by Blackstone Publishing
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
An incredible memoir!

"I yearn to be part of the symphony of life embodying the perfection of nature but my song is punctuated with the dissonance of human flaws, of which there are many."

At first glance, it felt like this book was about an adventure undertaken by a woman into the remote and wild Alaska. Even the blurb posted on Goodreads, focuses much on Alaska, the life there and about the races.

"Something greater than myself lies ahead, and I am about to change my life one step at a time."

Diane S ☔
Jun 01, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nfr-2020
3.5 The book begins and ends with Katherine running the Iditarod. I loved the way she introduced her dogs, names and personalities. In between she is searching for a way to overcome some pretty heavy battles in her life. Sexual abuse, an eating disorder, cutting, and she turns to nature as a solace. She also searches in other ways, a vision quest, a sweat lodge, and the path to Buddhism.

She ends up in Alaska, where she suffers additional losses, but also the strength she needs to overcome her p
Valerity (Val)
An amazing memoir about a young woman who beats the odds and so much adversity to find her way through incredible challenges and pain. I had to take some time to digest all that she went through after I was done reading it, and then all that she did to work on herself in the latter part. It’s really quite admirable, and I’m glad she had family to help at times. I just flew through this book like a person starved for text, it was so readable to me and kept pulling me along. I was hooked, and had ...more
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I could not put this one down! This is such a heartbreaking but powerful story. I expected a more practical description of a few dog sled races, but got an amazing powerful memoir of a very interesting person where tragic things happened to. The author has really seen rough times, but is a fighter and I often wondered how can one be so strong? Really inspirational. This is a book that made me think, and I love it when a story does that. Would I do those things? Or how would I react? Why does the ...more
Jan 11, 2020 rated it liked it
The author shares her experiences in to day survival, dog racing, love, loss, challenges.... Living in the wilderness brings hardship, but also a love of life, courage, strength and profound peace.

I enjoyed this glimpse into a lifestyle I have always found intriguing. I could not do what Katherine and others who love living in remote challenging areas face on a daily basis. I enjoyed reading about her life and experiences, but the writing style and disjointed storytelling really hi
Dec 31, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019, netgalley
Reviewed on: Ashes Books & Bobs.

Many thanks to Blackstone Publishing & Netgalley for the chance to read this memoir.

I was eager to check out this book because solitude and adventure go hand in hand for me and are both things I value tremendously in life. When this book was compared to Wild by Cheryl Strayed in the blurb, I knew I had to have it. I absolutely loved reading Cheryl’s story and discovering this subgenre of memoirs through her book.

Overall, this was an incredibly interesting read and
I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

An engaging and at times heartbreaking memoir about a woman and her love of the outdoors. It was different than I was expecting – there was less focus on dogsledding than on the trials in her personal life, but this was not a bad thing; her life story is at times devastating and told with honesty.

She writes with an openness and clarity that you can tell is genuine; she doesn’t try to sugar coat anything or make excuses. That be
Fran Cormack
Sep 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thank you to NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing for an early copy of this book.

How does someone survive such loss and still lead an inspiring and positive life? Katherine Keith suffered immeasurable loss and yet her strength to carry on and help others shines through in this memoir of a life less ordinary.
This Feral Housewife
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Holy wow!! Y’all need to read this book!! What a story and a life. Just a very cool journey through a life most of us will never experience.
Jun 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020-read
3.5 Stars
Many years ago, I was watching a documentary about female mushers and I thought what an incredibly strong, crazy, badass group of women they were. When I saw this book, my interest was already peeked and I wanted to know more.
Katherine Keith’s memoir compares favourably to other female authors of autobiographies that I have read. These fierce women are all in the midst of struggling and trying to deal with mental issues and traumas, self abusing themselves, and at one point, I had to as
Brian Miller
Oct 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A really good book about someone destined to live life on her terms and the struggle to achieve her dreams against many, many obstacles. The books tells the life of Katherine who although born in Minnesota, dreams of a life living on her own in Alaska. Her struggles with mental health made me sympathize with her and further things I do not want to spoil for the reader really made my heart go out for her. Against long odds, she was able to raise her daughter to be successful and happy. The second ...more
Dec 27, 2019 rated it liked it
***I received a copy through NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.***

I respect the bravery that it must have taken to write the story and publish it into the world. However, it was hard for me to get into. While I might jump back into it from time to time, it’s not a book that I feel like I have to finish. It’s a bit too “spiritual” for me and the jumping timeline makes it really difficult to get into.
I think this book is probably one that picks up past the halfway mark,
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
Thank you NetGalley for the advanced copy of Epic Solitude.

I struggled to get through this book. The story was present and had a lot of potential, however it took me 2/3 of the way through the book to feel any depth or emotion in the writing. I felt there were a bit too many metaphors early on and the writing jumped around too much.

I give credit to the author for her determination and strength to go through all her trials and tribulations.
Sarah G
May 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Gripping, intense and emotional account of one woman's life journey. She consistently overcomes tragedy after turmoil and keeps moving forward. Inspiring, heartbreaking and thrilling. I rarely review books but this has been one of my favorite by far. ...more
Mary Pennington
May 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Step aside Cheryl Strayed, this woman here is a true badass! This is a great memoir and so much more than just another story about Alaska. I only hope I can show even a shred of the same resilience as Katherine if ever faced with similar challenges.
Nemo Nemo

Katherine Keith is epic and so is her manuscript. In a world where people breakdown or have a conniption-fit if their phone runs out of power there are others; extraordinary, resilient, talented, survivors that put the rest of us to shame. Whilst most of us consider we have had a bad day if we miss a phone call or a connection at the airport; this woman deals with exceptional challenges and never fails to meet them head on.

Katherine takes us on a journey from her most formative years as
Jan 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Memoirs about women going out into the world to find themselves or their own truths have become a veritable cottage industry since the success of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love and Cheryl Strayed’s Wild. While these books became instant bestsellers, the lookalikes they inspired have garnered an ocean of criticism regarding traveling long distances in search of spiritual truths, as though Henry David Thoreau didn’t do the same thing in 1854 and write a classic while his mother did his laundr ...more
Jan 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a quite a ride, I can tell you that. It broke my heart several times over.

The first half of this memoir I was not convinced. Though I felt for the author, I could not quite connect to the writing style and I struggled with the way Katherine expressed herself. When you are reading a memoir, you want to feel connected to the person telling his or her story and this what was not happening for me in the beginning. However, I think this changed the moment she arrived in Alaska.

The secon
When this showed up as a new Overdrive addition, I snatched up the audio. I'll grab almost anything Alaska. In some info about the book, Cheryl Strayed was mentioned, and yes, if you've read Wild, you will notice the similarity of quest.

This is a difficult book because of the loss involved. So much. But the balance is the survival reaped. My real interest began when she actually went to Alaska. As difficult as parts of this story is, encouragement pervades with Keith's pursuit of survival on ma
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thank you NetGalley and publisher for an ARC of this book now available. This books started as a 3⭐️ and mostly finished as 4⭐️. The book bounced around between different timelines especially in the beginning and often the changes in timeline didn’t really make sense. It was a choppy read and in the first third it made it hard to empathize with the author because you don’t really understand what had happened to her. Once the author gets to Alaska the story becomes easier to follow and you finall ...more
Sarah Dykes
Jan 13, 2020 marked it as to-read
DNF at 35%.

I was really looking forward to reading this book as I adore stories of Alaska and outdoor adventure. However, the poor writing and lack of emotion caused me to discontinue. I really wanted to but I just could not bring myself to read more. I think one of the things that did not work in this book's favour was that the author's discussion of the Pacific Coast Trail caused me to compare it to Cheryl Strayed's Wild, and the writing of that memoir is just so much better. This book paled s
Lisa Henderson-Farr
Jan 31, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Thank you to Blackstone Publishing and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I had a really hard time getting into this story as I felt the first 30% of this book was a little boring for me. I didn't really feel engaged with the author until her story moves to her life in Alaska. Once I got to this part of the story the emotions started to become very real and heartbreaking, she lost so much in a very short timespan. I didn't really enjoy the back and forth
Holly Marie
Nov 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is one you can’t put down and truly is, EPIC. Katherine Keith and her story about determination, hard work, courage, sacrifice, love and grief will linger with you after reading this book. Her story takes you from Minnesota to many adventures to her dream destination to Alaska, where she’s inspired solitude and beauty by being around nature and living outdoors, to leading her own pack of dog mushers and competing in the Alaska Iditarod. What an amazing and inspiring woman she is and I ...more
Nov 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a beautifully written book. The style was both pragmatic and poetic. At time it was a bit too poetic and I got lost at what was going on but overall was really drawn in. I liked the timeline of going back and forth. It was refreshing to read about someone who still faces struggles and wasn't cured by wilderness but found it essential to her wellbeing. It was heartbreaking to read about what the author went through but inspiring to see how she persisted. ...more
Sharon Naylor Toris
Nov 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
A great story for a fighter/survivor, as truly challenging situations rise up and characters is developed in the coping. This story is gripping, scenic, and a workout for your emotions. I was captivated and inspired. Very nicely done, very visual. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the review copy.
Julie Buckles
May 03, 2020 rated it liked it
Katherine Keith is a smart, tough, resilient human being. She is remarkable and has a great story. That said, she is not a writer and the book is lesser for it. Considering this touches on all of my favorite subjects—Alaska, wilderness, adventure, dogs, women empowerment—I had to force myself to finish. The structure is off and the storytelling uneven. For instance, the book begins with a beautiful story about a weekend with her father and after that her father is barely mentioned. She tells the ...more
Feb 16, 2021 rated it it was ok
Eeesh. I feel like my complaints are more about the author as a person than the book itself ... although the book doesn’t deliver on its promise either. I for sure am coming at it from a place of really not understanding why anyone without a real, solid reason and lots of training to back it up would do the things she does. So maybe I was just never going to like this. And maybe she just doesn’t spend a lot of words on the effort she puts into learning how to do these things safely, but consider ...more
Oct 23, 2020 rated it did not like it
🥱 It took two weeks to get to page 52 and I called it. I rarely quit a book, but this read like the journal-entry ramblings of a preadolescent full of detail yet lacking substance. I skipped to the pictures (a reward I reserve for completion) and saw the page after was about a genuinely sad and tragic situation and I found myself reading. During this section the author found her voice and wrote eloquently a chapter incongruous with pages 1-52 then just like that she was back at it. One of the ph ...more
Todd Smith
Jun 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
The author in this book hungers for remote places and found adventure in Alaska, but not without heartache.

The book takes you through her Iditarod Sled Dog Race and then flashes back to what brought her to wanting to raise across the tundra in 40 below temperatures.

She has faced a life of loss, I don’t want to detail too much since I would spoil the book, but she goes through a lot of trauma in this book.

My only wish was that she could have talked more about some of the people she was closest
Emilee (emileereadsbooks)
Jul 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing for a free digital copy.

Would you ever consider living off the grid?

I have always been fascinated by dog mushing and races like the Iditarod. This book gives you such good nuggets of stories surrounding dog mushing, but it also illustrates how nature can be a balm for our souls and how appreciating creation can be our connection back to why we exist. In the best way, this memoir reads like fiction. I always wanted to know what happened next and th
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KATHERINE KEITH is a wilderness athlete, experience junkie, spiritual questor, long-distance dog musher, and mother to a sixteen-year-old daughter and thirty-five dogs, living above the Arctic Circle in Kotzebue, Alaska. Professionally, and as a jack-of-all-trades survivalist, she is a small business owner, rural Alaska project director, energy engineer, commercial fisherman, and wellness advocate ...more

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