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Phenomenal: A Hesitant Adventurer's Search for Wonder in the Natural World
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Phenomenal: A Hesitant Adventurer's Search for Wonder in the Natural World


One woman reclaims her sense of wonder by seeking out the globe’s most incredible natural phenomena

Heartfelt and awe inspiring, Leigh Ann Henion’s Phenomenal is a moving tale of physical grandeur and emotional transformation, a journey around the world that ultimately explores the depths of the human heart. A journalist and young mother, Henion combines her own conflicted but joyful experiences as a parent with a panoramic tour of the world’s most extraordinary natural wonders.

Phenomenal begins in hardship: with Henion deeply shaken by the birth of her beloved son, shocked at the adversity a young mother faces with a newborn. The lack of sleep, the shrinking social circle, the health difficulties, all collide and force Henion to ask hard questions about our accepted wisdom on parenting and the lives of women.Convinced that the greatest key to happiness—both her own and that of her family—lies in periodically allowing herself to venture into the wider world beyond home, Henion sets out on a global trek to rekindle her sense of wonder.

Henion’s quest takes her far afield, but it swiftly teaches her that freedom is its own form of parenting, one that ultimately allows her to meet her son on his own terms: with a visceral understanding of the wonder he experiences every day at the fresh new world. Whether standing on the still-burning volcanoes of Hawai’i or in the fearsome lightning storms of Venezuela, in the vast animal movements of Tanzania or the elegant butterfly migrations of Mexico, Henion reveals in Phenomenal a world of sublimity and revelation.

Henion’s spiritual wanderlust puts her in the path of modern-day shamans, reindeer herders, and astrophysicists. She meets laypeople from all over the world, from all walks of life, each going to great lengths to chase migrations, auroras, eclipses, and other phenomena. These seekers trust their instincts, follow their passions, shape their days into the lives they most want to lead. And somewhere along the way, Leigh Ann Henion becomes one of them.

A breathtaking memoir, Phenomenal reveals unforgettable truths about motherhood, spirituality, and the beauty of nature.

Title:Phenomenal: A Hesitant Adventurer's Search for Wonder in the Natural World
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:288 pages
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    Phenomenal: A Hesitant Adventurer's Search for Wonder in the Natural World Reviews

  • Cynthia
    Mar 14, 2015

    If you love nature this book might interest you but only in a superficial way. I enjoyed reading about most of the natural phenomenon that Henion writes about however there’s not much more here. I a...

  • David Joy
    Oct 20, 2014

    More than a journey of the world’s phenomena, this book is an illumination of womanhood and motherhood. From a place where those definitions, those roles, are far too often left in the dark or missp...

  • Carin
    Apr 14, 2015

    Last week I was not feeling great. Not sick, but I had lost motivation and was having a hard time just getting through the things I needed to do. I was supposed to read a depressing WWII book for my b...

  • Alyssa
    Sep 24, 2014

    Leigh Ann Henion's poetic and honest account of her winding journey is a view with a telescope, then a microscope, and then a mirror, in fluid alternation. That flow and ebb between perspectives allow...

  • Peter Mcloughlin
    Jul 18, 2015

    A travel book that gets a bit reflective at times about pursuing new experiences but mostly about drinking in the sights and local lore of places around the world. Not bad....

  • Chris
    Nov 30, 2015

    Aptly named. This book is phenomenal. Henion is a on a quest or should I say many quests. She is a seeker. But what is she seeking? Is it the truth like the recently reissued X-Files? Perhaps. But she...

  • Kate
    Nov 15, 2015

    In my chat with Leigh Ann she said, "When something seems impossible, do it anyway."Check it out:

  • Sarah Christensen Fu
    Jan 13, 2015

    This book made my mind sing with possibilities. Inspiring and beautifully written, I know that this book will be beloved by many! ...

  • Liralen
    Feb 20, 2015

    This was one of the books I packed when I left to walk across Spain: it seemed fitting, after all, to read about wonder when I was off on a pilgrimage.Except...I got to page 153, thought about it, and...

  • Lisa Creighton
    Mar 26, 2015

    Parts of this book jumped off the page, grabbed my hand and made me want to choke on a sob because I connected so deeply with the author. I kept a journal of quotes for those moments. But then, there ...