A French writer decides to spend six months, pretty much alone, in a small cabin near lake Baikal, in Russia, and writes a journal-like rendition in The Consolations of the Forest: Alone in a Cabin on the Siberian Taiga. I was expecting a meditation on solitude and nature, and there’s some of that, but interestingly the book centers on his rare interactions with his neighbors (several hours’ walk away!) and occasional visitors, both friends and strangers. It’s hard to be a hermit.
He also talks about the books he reads, most of them French literature, but for me the best parts were the incidental descriptions of his lifestyle: the frozen cabin in the morning, the abundant consumption of vodka with all visitors, the breaking of the ice to do some fishing. They held my attention more than the philosophical commentary.