The Consolations of the Forest
4.3Overall Score

Sylvain Tesson has always traveled. A world tour by bicycle in 1993. Himalaya by foot in 1997. The steppes of Central Asia by horse in 1999. Always on the road, he decided to flee travel in Siberia.

The Consolations of the Forest: Alone in a Cabin on the Siberian Taiga was written in 2011 by Sylvain Tesson. This books recounts how Tesson lived isolated, as a Robinson Crusoe for six months on the northerwestern shore of Lake Baikal.

Rich with introspection, observation and good humour, Tesson wrestles with life’s biggest questions throughout his memoir. His isolation exposes meditations on philosophy, human relationships, literature, nature and consumption society.

For his six months in Siberia Tesson brought dozens and dozens of books from Nietzsche to Baudelaire, to feed his reflection and rediscover the meaning of life.  During his attempt to escape the chaos, futility and kitsch of modern life, he rediscovered the luxury of solitude.


Yet his journey isn’t all isolation – during his quest he befriended everyone from dogs to gamekeepers. Despite the cold, he succeeds to paint a cozy picture of space, silent and solitary. On the edge of the world’s biggest freshwater lake, Tesson fills his life with reading, fishing, hiking and putting the finishing touches to his art of contemplation.

Sylvain Tesson’s book has been recently adapted in French movie by Safy Nebbou with Raphael Personnaz. Even if you didn’t like the book or haven’t read it, the movie is worth it only for its beautiful landscapes of Siberia alone.


consolations-of-the-forestThe Consolations of the Forest is a memoir written
by Sylvain Tesson from February to July 2011 when he decided to live in a secluded cabin, on the banks of Lake Baikal. He lives off books, vodka and solitude while developing his thoughts on modern life and humankind.

Favourite quotes: “I wanted to experiment with the simple life and claim back time. I wanted to feel life, and understand how it would look just contemplating the landscape, rather than harvesting kilometres on the road.”

“Freedom is always there. Simply pay the price.”

“As long as there is a cabin deep in the woods,
nothing is completely lost.”

Perfect place to read: In the winter, in a cozy cabin where you can see an endless pine forest and wander about the outside.

If this book was a food: A char with blueberries and a drop of vodka.