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on 12 December 2013
A thoughtful book. I would say that it seems the title has been picked because it sounds cool, not for its relationship with the content. Many of the essays are about loss, or memories, rather than about being lost, or getting lost. Which was somewhat disappointing, since the first essay ends posing the question: `How will you go about finding that thing the nature of which is totally unknown to you?'. This is not the central theme. I can of course see how loss and being lost play off one another, but *getting* lost, *finding* the unknown; hmmm, not as much as is suggested.

But once you've put aside those raised expectations, once you realise this is not really her intention, it is mostly an ejoyable thoughtful read. Some essays are far stronger than others: illuminating and amusing on Klein, a fascinating alternative Vertigo, and the colour Blue permeates. Essays about her relationships, a lost friend (though terribly sad), and a rather poetically forced meandering about turtles did not work nearly so well. I've read she understandably hates being lumped in with the Haight Ashbury miasma, but you can see why she sometimes is.

Anyway, her questioning and seeking, her meandering tangents do indeed often illuminate and give pause for thought. It all speaks of sane person (at least, as sane as anyone one person might be). She has written more satisfyingly (Wanderlust and Muybridge), but this book is an easy going and pleasant companion.
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VINE VOICEon 16 May 2009
Rebecca Solnit is an essayist/writer from San Francisco and author of a number of successful books including A Field Guide to Getting Lost. I remember reading the field guide a year or so ago but wasn't able to quote more than a few lines from chapter two: the blue of distance. There was something about Simone Weil, the Hindu God Krishna & light, lots and lots of light. I needed to revisit the book, time had dulled my memory of the book but I vividly remember my initial breathless reaction to the writing, having to lay the book down and pace my flat repeating the words and them settling like dust around me. I remember carrying the book with my in my shoulder bag & dipping into it in the public park close to where I live in Edgbaston, Birmingham. I didn't remain seated for long during my reading, something in Solnit's writing drove me to my feet and meant I didn't pay much attention to where I was walking. I walked safely but managed to get lost in the process, which I think Solnit would be proud of.

Rereading the book to prepare for this review has been a deeply rewarding experience and have discovered that it has subtly influenced my reading over the last year or so. Authors quoted or books mentioned have quietly appeared on my bookshelf, as if summoned by being read. I can't claim this book will change your life, I'm not even sure it's what changed mine but I can trace the resonance of phrases, the impish nudge towards uncertainty and the words "the blue of distance" back to this book.

Solnit shares from her own experience, quotes liberally from other authors and is unashamedly intelligent and rich in her writing but is in no way alienating with her prose. She holds our attention whilst writing eloquently about loss, being lost and uncertainty. She comes back again and again in the book to the idea of "the blue of distance", she turns it over like a paperweight and explores from different angles.

You should rush out and buy this book, read it, forget about it and then reread it. There's a strange alchemy at work when you're reading it and it will mark you once you've finished. Your dreams will shift to a more bluish hue, you'll want to answer the call of adventure, the lure of the horizon and find yourself sneaking through open doors at every opportunity. My review stands as the last signpost before you wander into your own desert following Solnit's footprints in sand and I encourage you to chase her ideas where they lead you. Toss that map aside, enjoying being uncertain and above all: Get lost!
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on 25 November 2012
A series of essays and thoughts on the feelings associated with being lost or losing. I fet that that they were linked, but did not always have a flow from one to the other.

That said the writing in here is exceptional. Solnit writes with such a sense of place and purpose, and she is easily able to evoke a place or a time or a memory with consummate ease.
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on 21 August 2016
If you believe what Tolkien said, that 'not all those who wander are lost', this book may be your perfect cup of tea. Solnit muses along the subject of loss, losing and being lost with a distinct poignant wanderlust. 'A Field Guide to Getting Lost' maps out anything and everything from dreams, the past, the sky, the sea and the colour blue:

“The world is blue at its edges and in its depths. This blue is the light that got lost [...] the blue at the horizon, the blue of land that seems to be dissolving into the sky, is a deeper, dreamier, melancholy blue, the blue at the farthest reaches of the places where you see for miles, the blue of distance. This light that does not touch us, does not travel the whole distance, the light that gets lost, gives us the beauty of the world, so much of which is in the color blue."
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on 2 December 2015
This is an extraordinary book, like something written by a visitor from a fourth dimension who can look at our every day world and see how things fit together,or don't, in a way that most of us never can. Because she talks about her life and lives are often episodic or peripatetic or just plain boring, there seems little substance to the book, like a beautiful wedding cake with no centre to it. But after a a while you realise that does not matter. The medium is the message. She has us looking so closely at the head of a pin that finally we see the Angels dancing on it. There is scarcely a sentence that does not resonate. Look for one to quote and you wind up quoting the whole book. I was lost but now I am found may not be the heart of the matter, but she does teach us to travel hopefully and in the end, we may find it was the journey that mattered most.
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on 1 September 2015
We had a chapter of this given us in a Creative Writing class - so I bought the book. The excerpt was the first chapter, which is the best. The second starts with a false premise which a very brief conversation with a scientist would have inverted - every alternate chapter continues the same chapter title. Actually turns out that even when scientifically inverted the literary conclusion is true.
HINT: blue light travels further because it gets lost.
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on 7 December 2015
Solnit is a new writer crush of mine. I kept coming across inspirig quotes by her, so decided to give her work a go. I ended up reading two books in less than a month. She weaves a love of philosophy with a poetic type of prose, she has a clear mind and lucid style. I get lost in her mindstreams in a good way.
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on 5 July 2016
This is not an easy book to read. It rambles from subject to subject, some interesting, some not so. It is occasionally a great tug on the emotions. The overall concept of the book, the art of getting lost both mentally and physically is fascinating. It is well worth reading but it is not an easy ride.
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on 2 August 2013
A delightful book. Spanning several topics, experiences both personal and educational; a gorgeous, slow journey through the whimsical, deep, human and joyful. It is a book that defies any clear category, and for this I am grateful.
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on 10 May 2016
I've always thought of being lost as being a fairly straight and narrow concept. But this book made me realise how it can have so many meanings - Solnit's ideas about being lost ripple out into so many alleys and paths, and it was a delight to follow them. The writing is beautiful to read - not a word is wasted. Lovely lovely lovely stuff.
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