The Wander Society by Keri Smith

The Wander Society by Keri Smith sounded intriguing and imaginative when the publisher brought it to my attention.

And it was all of that. But for some reason it left me a little cold in the end. To me it seemed a little too clever by half; all the mystery of the Wander Society, its membership and activities. And I didn’t care for the new age sensibility of it all either

But that seems a bit harsh. I am not exactly the creative or crafty type. I am a reader and a critic. I like to think about abstract things and argue about specifics of policy, art and culture. I really don’t think this book is aimed at me exactly. Or perhaps it is and I just refused to let it crack my shell or impact my life by diving into its instructions and ideas.

My wife, who has a BFA and is artsy-crafty, immediately loved it.  In fact, I was delayed in reading it because she grabbed it and started reading it.  She also also went out and bought Wreck This Journal and immediately began using it.  So she is a fan.

But despite any misgivings I might have, I think there are some very creative and worthwhile elements here. There is a sense in which our technology dominated world separates us from reality and clogs our brains. Creativity, imagination, connection, insights, etc. are all much more likely to flow if we can get away from staring at screens all day and night never getting out of the daily routine.

The willingness to wander and explore; to seek out new and unexpected things is worth cultivating. And Smith does a great job of laying out a way to do so wrapped in a mystery and infused with visual and literary stimulation and/or motivation. And the beauty of a book like this is you can take what you want from it and leave the rest behind.

I like the idea of wandering, and have done it myself in the past, and breaking free of technology and routine/habit. I like the idea of finding space to be open to new ideas and to feel better connected with who you are and where you want to go/be. I might even leave some stickers around town and slip some quotes into books. I think I need to find my sources and inspirations, however, as hers don’t quite line up with mine.

The Wander Society Book Cover The Wander Society
Keri Smith
Penguin Books
March 29, 2016

wan·der verb \ˈwän-dər\ to walk/explore/amble in an unplanned or aimless way with a complete openness to the unknown

Several years ago when Keri Smith, bestselling author of Wreck This Journal, discovered cryptic handwritten notations in a worn copy of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass, her interest was piqued. Little did she know at the time that those simple markings would become the basis of a years-long, life-changing exploration into a mysterious group known only as The Wander Society, as well as the subject of this book.

Within these pages, you'll find the results of Smith's research: A guide to the Wander Society, a secretive group that holds up the act of wandering, or unplanned exploring, as a way of life. You'll learn about the group's mysterious origins, meet fellow wanderers through time, discover how wandering feeds the creative mind, and learn how to best practice the art of wandering, should you choose to accept the mission.

About the author

Kevin Holtsberry

I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season - oh, and watching golf too).

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