A Field Guide to Getting Lost

by Rebecca Solnit

Hardcover, 2005






Rebecca Solnit reveals the pleasures of losing oneself in an experience, reflects on the joy of wandering and being lost, and explores the uses of the unknown.

User reviews

LibraryThing member colinsky
I really wanted to like this book based on its title alone, and perhaps that was what spoiled it for me. There was much discussion of space, most of it metaphorical rather than physical, but with lots of brave attempts to draw meandering lines between the two. In the end, it was the meandering that got to me. Like clang associations of schizophrenics, I got the feeling that she sometimes went from rabbithole to rabbithole just because of the layout of the terrain she found herself in rather than because of any particularly strong underlying theme. Yes, in life, we drift through space and time. It's unavoidable. She puts it in a pretty way, but I don't feel as though I've learned much. As so often, when I find a book that purports to connect to the things that interest me the most, my expectations become sky high and I'm almost always disappointed.… (more)
LibraryThing member deliriumslibrarian
A compassionate and evocative book about living now with the destructive history of then. Open to despair and yet alive with hope.
LibraryThing member idlereader
discursive exploration of what it is to be lost, how it's something that humans seem to have lost their sense of.
LibraryThing member SonjaYoerg
I'm convinced Rebecca Solnit could talk about any topic and I'd be keen to listen. She is well-read and sensitive, and has a mind like a bird dog, picking up the scent of one idea, hunting it either into the light or into the underbrush before picking up the trail of the next idea and loping after it. What an intellect.

The book is about all the possible ways of getting lost, especially when getting lost is the only way to find something, or to be found. But I'd characterize the main theme as exploration. Not about questing after something (although you have to get your motivation somewhere), but about loving and respecting the wide-open world and the journey to get wherever it is you're going. If I'm making it all sound esoteric and theoretical, it's because I'm not as limber as Solnit. There is solid history in these pages and personal storytelling, as well as far-reaching theorizing. I appreciated all of it.

My one quibble was that the writing was occasionally denser than it needed to be. I found myself unpacking quite a few sentences. But I suspect this is how Solnit thinks, and if that's true, I wouldn't monkey with it.

A book for folks who believe a window can always be larger.
… (more)
LibraryThing member strandbooks
Earlier this year I was at a BookBar event where a staff member was playing matchmaker with attendees and books. I told her I had recently read Annie Dillard’s book, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. It was not my usual read and pretty challenging but I loved it. She recommended A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit. The writing is similar in the fact that I underlined a lot of passages that were philosophical/poetic, and I’d like to read again. Unlike Pilgrim, this is a book of unrelated essays, which made it more disjointed. They flip from stories of adventurers in the 1500s to a very in-depth look at the movie Vertigo to the ruin of American cities in the 1980s. I also felt like I was expected to know a lot more about Solnit’s background and past books the way she alludes to them. I do want to learn more about her and what her other books are like.… (more)
LibraryThing member Mijk
This begins well, draws you in and gets better, but by the end it collapses in on itself as Solnit repeats what has been said earlier in the book. Lyrical, moving and even profound in parts, but self-indulgent and vain others, inconsistency which undermines its achievements.
LibraryThing member flydodofly
Almost unlimited amount of interesting idea bits and pieces and images to work your mind around, without any intention to structure them - the whole point was to allow oneself to get lost and stay lost. Solnit lost me more than a couple of times, but then I picked the path or the story up and all was well again.
"Worry is a way to pretend that you have knowledge or control over what you don't - and it surprises me, even in myself, how much we prefer ugly scenarios to the pure unknown. Perhaps fantasy is what you fill up maps with rather than saying that they too contain the unknown." P. 165
"It's okay to realize that life has a mysterious qulaity to it, it has an element of uncertainty, it's okay to relize that we do need help, that calling out for help is a very generous act because it allows others to help us is a very generous act because it allows others to help us and it allows us to be helped."
… (more)


Original language



Page: 0.3732 seconds