First Chapter Review: One Year Lived by Adam Shepard
Adam Shepard, the author of One Year Lived, contacted me to ask if I would feature his book. I liked his presentation, so I requested a free sample of the book from Amazon for my Kindle. That's where it gets confusing. There really aren't chapter headings for this one. The book opens with a map, followed by the Prologue. Then there's a heading called "The List." After that, the rest of the book is broken up into mini-chapters for each country the author visited. Trust me, it will make sense as we go along, but this is more than a First Chapter Review; it's more like the first chapter plus.
BLURB: During his 29th year, spending just $19,420.68, less than it would have cost him to stay at home, Adam Shepard visited seventeen countries on four continents and lived some amazing adventures. “It’s interesting to me,” he says, “that in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Europe, it’s normal for people to pack a bag, buy a plane ticket, and get ‘Out There.’ In the U.S., though, we live with this very stiff paradigm—graduate college, work, find a spouse, make babies, work some more, retire—which can be a great existence, but we leave little room to load up a backpack and dip into various cultures, to see places, to really develop our own identity.” Shepard's journey began in “the other Antigua”—Antigua, Guatemala—where he spent a month brushing up on his Spanish and traveling on the “chicken bus.” During his two months in Honduras, he served with an organization that helps improve the lives of poor children; in Nicaragua, he dug wells to install pumps for clean water and then stepped into the ring to face a savage bull; in Thailand, he rode an elephant and cut his hair into a mullet; in Australia, he hugged a koala, contemplated the present-day treatment of the Aborigines, and mustered cattle; in Poland, he visited Auschwitz; in Slovakia, he bungee jumped off a bridge; and in the Philippines, he went wakeboarding among Boracay’s craggy inlets and then made love to Ivana on the second most beautiful beach in the world. His yearlong journey, which took two years to save for, was a spirited blend of leisure, volunteerism, and enrichment. He read 71 books, including ten classics and one—slowly—in Spanish. “If you can lend a hand to someone, educate yourself about the world, and sandwich that around extraordinary moments that get your blood pumping, that’s a pretty full year,” Shepard writes. Can everybody take a year to get missing? “Maybe, maybe not,” he says, “though that’s not really the point. I’m just concerned that some of us are too set on embracing certainty. We want life to be cushy and regimented, but that’s not how we can create a lasting impact on our lives or the lives around us. There’s only so much you can learn in the classroom. Sometimes you have to get out there to experience it, to touch it, to feel it, to see it for yourself. It’s fascinating the perspective we can gain when we step out of our bubbles of comfort, even just a little bit.”
COVER: Fabulous. No idea what the picture is from, but this guy, arms outstretched, in front of the water with the mountain in the background seems to be embracing life. Simply perfect.
FIRST CHAPTER +: I moved quickly through the Prologue that shared the story of Adam bungee jumping with his girlfriend, Ivana, and went to "The List." That list shares the author's reasons and motivation for his decision to spend a year traveling. He talks about "The List" he had made and still not put even a dent in. He opted at the age of 29 to make a dent and live a life worth meaning.
The reader swiftly moves with Adam to his first location: Antigua in Guatemala. There is some funny backstory woven in, but mostly the author spends his time painting a lot of nice pictures for the reader.
KEEP READING: Definitely. Shepard has a nice style. He's sharp and funny. In his words, you can see the man who would passionately seek to make a difference and enjoy life to its fullest. As he says early on in this section, "I wanted more than a full memory card. I wanted something deeper." And you feel that as you move with the author through his first experiences in Antigua. his descriptions are so vivid, you truly seem to be there with him. I would love to read more of his adventures.