Not To Be Overlooked introduces a variety of a wonderful but lesser-known books to assist readers in finding their next great reads. The column covers fiction and non-fiction, with reviews by Alicja (A Field Guide To Getting Lost) and Katie (Olive).
A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit
Published by Canongate Books, January 2005 (paperback edition)
“Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself came from, and where you will go.”
Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost is one of those books that simply got lost on my bookshelf and lay there slowly gathering dust until I picked it up during lockdown. Never have I ever found a book more fitting in a moment. A Field Guide to Getting Lost has a bit of everything, from Rebecca Solnit’s personal experiences, to history, nature writing and philosophy as well as more popular culture anecdotes. It’s hard to not get lost in this immersive, raw and honest memoir and social commentary.
Though the first version of the book was published fifteen years ago this year, Rebecca Solnit’s A Field Guide to Getting Lost couldn’t be timelier and more relevant. In many ways, the book explores uncertainty and challenges that come with it. 2020 has offered many new, unprecedented obstacles or magnified already existing problems in the current times.
“Never to get lost is to not live”’ reads the tagline, and while a simple statement that we might have heard so many times already, it has never been truer. Through a combination of comments and memoirs, Rebecca Solnit takes us on a personal journey of human existence – something we call can relate to.
Tackling many themes and stories, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, at the heart, remains both hopeful and uncertain. In this introspective book, the author urges the reader to embrace the uncertainty and “leave the door open for the unknown.” This is something that resonated with me as I have faced moving to a new city in the middle of the pandemic: uncertainty and unknown don’t have to be negative. They are, in fact, the most important parts of human experience.
Olive by Emma Gannon
Published by HarperCollins, July 2020
After seeing Olive make an appearance in the ‘Uplifting Reads’ column of Issue 2, I knew I had to get my hands on it. This is an exceptional, fleshed-out debut from Emma Gannon, yet I feel as though it hasn’t been credited enough within mainstream publishing for the big issue it explores.
Olive is a thirty-something millennial who adores her job as a lifestyle columnist. She is in a loving ten-year relationship and has a circle of super fun and loyal girls. She wishes things could stay exactly as they are, but when her friends start having babies, year after year, she begins to question why everyone around her is changing and, more importantly, why she’s not. Simply put, Olive does not want to have children.
This story begins with Olive, as a twenty-one-year-old who is hungover and lying in bed on the final day of her university experience. One by one, the girls join her, crawling under the covers to laugh – but mostly cringe – at the antics of the night before. From Gannon’s description alone, you can smell the sambuca breath. You can imagine the eye rolls as they discuss that one persistent boy in the club; you can feel their pain as they walk around their student house, saying goodbye to each room. Everything about this story feels real from the very start.
Gannon’s writing perfectly fits into the millennial market. This debut represents a generation who are eager to challenge the norm, and it shows through the characters. Each woman in the book is crafted with their own identity, meaning the reader should hopefully be able to relate to one of them. They’re funny, kind, rebellious, sweary and raw, and that’s what gives this book a voice.
As much as I was enjoying listening to the story, I did find myself wondering, at points, if I was listening at the wrong time in my life. There is so much baby talk – of which is not a personal priority – that I was asking myself: is this going to be lost on me? But I’m still thinking about it weeks later. This book has the power to act as a catalyst in challenging your own beliefs and to shine a light on why we need to stop adhering to a certain lifestyle mould. If anything, I’m glad I’ve picked it up while I’m younger.