Nina Sovich’s “To The Moon And Timbuktu”

As smart, driven, career women we are constantly looking onward and upward. It’s been over a half a century since our mothers, grandmothers and maybe even great-grandmothers stood up from behind the typewriters, ditched their sweater sets and raised us to believe self-fulfillment could trump security and settlement. But as progressive as we are, most of us can’t help the guilt that comes with feeling a little boredom or insecurity in our lives. It’s a tale as old as time, right?

But author Nina Sovich’s travel memoir To The Moon And Timbuktu proves we are still dreaming and we’re not alone. The book shares her story of leaving behind a career, relationship and conventional life of security for a spontaneous journey in self-discovery. Certainly not the first woman to search for a life beyond front desks and white picket fences, Nina’s memoir is a fresh reminder for all women that it’s normal to wander and sometimes getting lost can lead to the greatest discoveries.

An American woman living in Paris, Nina found herself stifled in a premature marriage and depressed by the old-world monotony of her city. She longed to return to a life of spontaneity and adventure that she spent in the Middle East as a young graduate. Inspired by her mother, an idealist who traveled to escape the humdrum realities of a suburban housewife, Nina had an insatiable curiosity to explore. In an effort to save her marriage and rejuvenate her spirit, she left behind a career as a high brow reporter and set off on a pilgrimage through West Africa, with the ultimate goal of reaching the legendary region of Timbuktu.

Throughout the memoir, Nina’s raw description of the outside lands she encounters lets us escape and indulge in our wildest travel fantasies about Africa. Meanwhile, her experiences are underwritten by an internal struggle with contentment that not only allows us to relate to her journey, but become a part of it. Nina’s palpable approach to writing puts us in the landscape as fellow travelers who feel her nerves, excitement and awe. While she encounters cultural taboos and struggles with the preconceptions of a western upbringing, Nina offers historical insight, but keeps her tone real throughout. She speaks as the everyday woman facing the realities of culture shock, solo travel and self-realization.

Though she eventually returns to Paris to start a family, Nina never quite quiets her freewheeling spirit. To The Moon and Timbuktu is a necessary and refreshing read for anyone who has ever felt stagnant. Nina’s words serve as a reminder to all of us that taking time to ourselves is never wasted and finding true success means first finding self-fulfillment.

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