Saturday, 20 September 2014

First Book Finished

I've just finished The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau so that means it is the official number one in my 80 book challenge.  It definitely comes under the 'inspirational' category of my non-fiction list.

I've followed Chris's blog at the Art of Nonconformity for a while now so I was already familair with his own quest to visit every country in the world (in the words of Richard Osman 'by country we mean a member of the UN in its own right').  I believe that Chris visited the 193 'official' countries plus Kosovo and Taiwan which aren't; I'm not sure if he's been to Scotland which would have been an interesting point had the referendum gone the other way.  The buzz on the blog when he visited his final country, Norway, last year was quite exciting.

The final chapters of the book dealt with the differences between achieving the goal and experiencing the process and what happens when the quest is over.  It was interesting to see how very differently motivated many of the quest participants Chris talked to were.  For some it was all about the process and the enagagement with the task they had set themselves.  These people were the ones who fully relished the challenge in the moment and loved what they did but they struggled when the quest was over.  Others, though, were focused on the end result and the achievement.  They seemed to have more struggles on the journey, coping with the inevitable points of hardship and monotony which their quests entailed, but they were the ones who felt the most satisfaction on completion of the quest and celebrated its end.

Another point that Chris made about quests was that they don't always finish the way they start. Often they pick up a momentum and life of their own. Quests usually start as a solitary endeavour, but, especially if they are bit whacky, start to attract followers and become more social.  All the people who went on travel quests seemed to begin the journey with an idea about places and ended up with their experiences being about people.  This reminds me of the fabulous novel The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry which is worth a read.

The book finishes with a set of 'lessons'  - some of my favourites are 'Adventure is for everyone' and 'Not everyone needs to believe in your dream, but you do'.  Finally there is a chart of all the people Chris spoke to for this book and the details of their quest.  One of the best 'takeaways' from the book for me is a couple of other new blogs to try.  I particularly liked the one by Elisa Baha.

So, first one down, 79 to go! I'm still finishing off my annual re-read of the Harry Potter series and am half way through Half-Blood Prince.  I am not including these as part of my quest but I will probably blog about Harry at some point.  My thoughts on Harry could fill a book on their own.  My first fiction book is going to be The Weft and The Warp by the brand new author Cornelius Owen.

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