I am reading Cheryl Strayed's [is that her real name?!] account of walking the Pacific Coast Trail alone, Wild. Though it's not great literature and I could have used a little less hour by hour detail, it is a feat, both the walk and the book, and she deserved enormous credit. She did what many lost souls [me sometimes] long to do - set a goal, a physically near-to-impossible one, and achieve it through sheer force of will. She was a sufferer and sought relief and self-understanding by taking this on. Though I haven't finished it yet, I know she succeeds [I think she's been on Oprah...] so I hold her in awe.
Another author recently caught my eye and I'm surprised I'd never heard of him - and he certainly deserves far more recognition than he's received from the general public - George B. Schaller. He is a naturalist whose latest book, Tibet Wild, is one in a long string of books chronicling his efforts to conserve and protect endangered species. The list of his accomplishments is outstanding - gorillas in the Congo, lions in Tanzania, jaguars in Brazil, pandas in China and now the wildlife of the remote Tibetan Plateau. He has worked with all manner of governments and in some of the most hostile places on earth and achieved amazing results. I can't wait to start in on this book and then his A Naturalist and Other Beasts .
In addition, Peter Matthiesen's The Snow Leopard, [National Book Award in 1978, I think] is an account of his trek with Schaller in 1973 to Nepal to study the rare blue sheep and the beautiful snow leopard. It is also, in a way, a journey of the soul, as Strayer's is.
I admire all of them!