alchemistarticlepic_grandeAt first glance, tying together a hike around the world to climb 52 mountains and a book club might not seem like an obvious pairing. Yet when you think about it, both a mountain and a book are a journey. A hike of a thousand miles begins with a single step and a book of a thousand pages begins with a first word. Each have a main character, typically a hero, who transforms during the travel from beginning to end. For many people, a hike and a book are started for specific purposes – a hike for fitness and a book for learning. For many lucky people, as the hike or book unfolds, that purpose transforms into a meaning and who that person was at the beginning of the journey is transformed into someone with a higher purpose when the journey is complete.

By adding a book club pairing to each mountain during 52 Peaks, we hope to provide opportunities for our friends and followers to discover a book that transforms their lives in some way. The moment in reading when a connection through time and space is made with a character is one of the magical moments in life that reminds us that we are all one together in this long story of humanity. We each have moments in which we laugh, cry and love. We each have triumphs and failures. We are, at our core, one and the same. In this way, a book can become as much of a friend as any person.

For me (Tami), the book club is an extension of a deep passion that stretches back to before I was even born when my pregnant mother read books each night to her expected daughter. From birth, different family members read me books continuously until I could read myself. And once I could read, my lifelong passion for books became unstoppable. Books have been a guidepost for me in all chapters of my life. There have been times they have given me solace. There are times they made me forget or laugh at the absurdity of a current situation. There have been special moments when a book has taught me something new about myself. There have been chameleon like books that as I reread them help me discover changes in myself because I read them at different times in my life. I am sure that if I looked back at the books I have read over the last four decades, they would plot the progression of my life in a way that would illuminate the person I am now.

Hiking is my new love of only a few years. Like reading different books, hiking various places has taught me new things about myself that I wouldn’t have thought were possible. When I started hiking, I quickly began to see how my personal growth in the mountains paralleled my learning from reading books. Many times, as I would walk along a new path, I would connect with the wisdom or story from a book that I had read. I understood that if I told people about that intersection between a book and a trail, then they would understand my soul in a new way. By sharing these book choices with the mountains we hike, we are sharing unique insights with you about who we are as people and how this journey we are on is redefining who we are becoming. We are sharing our hearts and we are opening a bridge to understanding the personal story we hope to tell when the 52 journey is over.

We welcome you to join us in reading or rereading these books. Most of the books chosen will be favorites reread many times already. There will also be some new books that have a special meaning to the place we are currently traveling. Some books will have been chosen because they have an obvious connection to the mountain or location. Other times, a book will be chosen because it has a deeper connection to the journey we are on inside ourselves at that moment. As we begin each new mountain, we will send out the newsletter announcing the new peak and we will include the book club pairing with an explanation of why we choose that book for that part of the journey. When each peak is done, we will post a blog with our book club insights about that read and the particular moments that touched us in a new way.

Read the books that catch your interest. Our deepest hope is that you will fall in love with some of these books too and you will be inspired to change your own perspective or goals in a way that brings additional happiness and understanding in your lives. Whether it’s a book you have already read or just discovered, please post your comments with the blog for that book once the blog is posted. Books are meant to be interactive and to light fires of discussion between all kinds of people. By sharing your discoveries and insights, you will be helping all of us to discover new ideas and providing support and love that will help fuel us for the next mountain.

Books are a deep, lifelong love affair. Nothing will make us happier than to share this love with our friends and family out there following us on this journey. We will be connected to each of you as you are reading the pages and hope that your experience of these books will give each of you a new passion to live your life in a way that you might not yet have discovered. We have already announced the first book, The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. I encourage you to read it over the next couple of months before 52 Peaks actually begins. To understand where we are going, we must understand the journey. This is the lesson of this book and I can think of no story more appropriate to personify the beginning of a journey of two friends in the middle of their lives hiking 52 peaks in 52 weeks. Enjoy and Namaste.