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Stories from BOA Readers: #BOATurns40

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Robert Thomas | Oakland, CA

Many years ago I went backpacking in northern Sweden—Lapland, really. Perhaps my memory is romanticizing the setting a bit, but there were herds of reindeer grazing the hillsides under the Northern Lights, and there was no one but me on the trail for miles. I had Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook with me to read. Sweden is considerate of hikers, so every few miles there was a hut where one could rest and sleep. I am a rather lazy camper and had no desire to prove how far I could hike in a day, so I spent hours curled in my sleeping bag reading The Golden Notebook. I finished it in a hut on a mountaintop with a gorgeous view (although it was more a hill than a mountain—see “lazy camper” above). It was one of the most memorable reading experiences of my life—The Golden Notebook is one of those rare books that can honestly change your life. It starts slow but accelerates toward its conclusion as Anna comes to realize that she can no longer compartmentalize her life into separate notebooks but must combine the different perspectives (political, autobiographical, erotic, artistic) into one glorious, golden notebook.
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