Time for another book review on Don’t Stop Living as I feature Ran Zilca’s Ride of Your Life. Before I started reading this book, I wasn’t sure what to expect. On the surface, it seems like a travel memoir, and travel memoirs are tricky business. They focus on the individual experience of the author, so it’s hard to say upfront whether they’d be interesting or relevant without knowing the author well. After all, why would I care about someone else’s individual experience unless I know that it applies to me? But Ride of Your Life is not just another travel log. Its subtitle: “a coast-to-coast guide to finding inner peace” is a good description of what this book is really about. Spending five weeks away from his family, Zilca road 6,000 from New York to California in search of inner peace, and along the way interviewed leading experts like Deepak Chopra, Byron Katie, Barbara Fredrickson, and Phil Zimbardo (who wrote the book’s foreword). Sonja Lyubomirsky from University of California at Riverside (who is also interviewed in the book) describes the book well as “a whole new literary genre–the positive psychology travel memoir”.
Between the hours he spent each day riding in contemplation, the conversations with people that he randomly met along the way, and the expert interviews, Zilca managed to surface some unique food-for-thought and thought-provoking insights that are bound to leave you reassessing your own life and your decisions. Perhaps even more importantly, something in the writing style manages to weave these insights into a fun and smooth read, not taking itself too seriously, and touching on the core thoughts that most people have as they progress through life. I found myself resonating with the deliberations and concepts, but at the same also laughing, relaxing, and simply enjoying being taken on a ride. Something about the way everything is presented drew me in from the get go. Perhaps it’s Zilca’s background as an engineer and scientist. He attempts to portray things as he experiences them as accurately as possible, making you forget that you are reading someone else’s personal story, and feeling like the experience is truly your own.
In many respects, Ride of Your Life is also a tribute to the classic US road trip, off-the-interstate books (like Blue Highways, or On the Road, written before the interstate system was built). Sticking to the back roads and small towns, Zilca discovers the “real America” where life takes a different pace and a different perspective then the origin of his journey (New York) and the final Destination (California).
Overall, this is a short, fun, and inspiring book that crosses the traditional boundaries of literary genres. Perfect to take on a trip with you or to read over a weekend, and I can easily see some people being driven to action or changing things in their life after reading it.
You can also check our Ran Zilca’s interview on my World Travellers Series.