“A Sense of Direction” by Gideon Lewis-Kraus
If you’ve ever felt like casting off your worldly responsibilities and going on a pilgrimage in these hectic and modern times, I’d suggest you grab yourself a copy of Gideon Lewis-Kraus’ “A Sense of Direction” right now. This marvelous memoir/travelogue puts you on the path of three of the world’s greatest pilgrimages, with a narrator whose voice is honest and candid and downright funny at times.
Lewis-Kraus was drifting. He bounced from San Francisco to Berlin, dealing with family drama (namely, his gay rabbi father’s new lifestyle) and swept up with the excess and ego of his artsy hipster friends.
So he and a friend decided to go on a pilgrimage – to the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Then he decided to do one solo – the Buddhist temples of Shikoku, Japan. And then, for his third and final act, he invited the family – to Ukraine and the tomb of a Hasadic legend.
This isn’t an old-fashioned story. These guys update their Facebook statuses and write down everything that happens, as many of us would do in this digital day and age.
Along the way, Lewis-Kraus learns a hundred lessons, many of which are small. Sometimes the company of an annoying stranger is better than walking hundreds of miles all alone, but sometimes being alone is wonderful. Nobody’s perfect. Everyone has quirks. Make sure you have great walking shoes if you’re going to cross hundreds of miles. He also learns lessons about changing your life, keeping secrets, and the importance of those you love.
“A Sense of Direction” is a wonderful book, and one that I encourage those with a case of wanderlust to get a hold of immediately.