Back in the spring of 2011, I was sitting at my desk on a typical workday. The sun was reflecting off of the skyscrapers that make up the Dallas, Texas skyline, and I probably had a lot of work piled up on my desk. I decided to take a little break, poured myself a coffee, and clicked on, the blog that summarizes (hilariously) all the news and goings-on in the legal world, from scandals to breaking news. Every lawyer under the age of 50 that I know, and every single law student, reads this blog.

The post I saw that day was this one. I will not reproduce it because of my overzealous fear of copyright infringement. Essentially, Above The Law had gotten wind of a very unique departure memo sent by Tyler Coulson to his colleagues at his law firm. His law firm was one of the most prestigious (and highly paying) law firms in the country. The former law firm of Barack and Michelle Obama. When a lawyer leaves a firm, for whatever reason, she or he always sends around a little goodbye email to the rest of the firm. Most of them are nearly identical. Mr. Coulson’s went like this:

Today is my last day at Sidley. You may keep in touch with me at [REDACTED], through Facebook at [REDACTED], or via Twitter, [REDACTED].
Beginning next week, I am walking from Delaware to California with a tent and my dog, Mabel. I will have limited access to email, but will check messages frequently.
– Geo. Tyler Coulson*

Wha-wha-wha-whaaaaat? I googled and quickly discovered Mr. Coulson was a 2008 law school graduate like me. Okay, so he’s in his third year. Barely long enough to have paid his student loans back, if he had any, and certainly not long enough to have become retirement-ready rich. But I was sure he was walking away from an astonishingly massive salary in his early 30s to… walk across the country.

Walking away from a salary like that takes major guts. OR it simply takes being miserable. I don’t pretend to know which was Mr. Coulson’s situation but fast forward to today after having read his book, I can guess which. But as soon as I read the Above The Law piece, I was really interested in what the deal was.

The other thing that really interested me, besides the fact that this guy was in the same profession and was the same age as me, was the walk across the country itself. My favorite books and movies involve epic journeys and survival stories. This goes back to the original 1980s version of Oregon Trail in green and black graphics, shooting deer and searching through abandoned wagons for sardines. My favorite episodes in American history are the Lewis and Clark expedition and the Donner Party.

So, this non-athlete regular guy was going to walk from sea to shining sea alone? GAH I wish I could do something like that. I do not have the fortitude. I was instantly a fan, and I immediately started following his cross-country hike on Twitter, Facebook, and on his website First the beach in Delaware, then Washington, DC, then on through Ohio, the grasslands, the Rocky Mountains, and California. By total coincidence, he sat on a porch with my friend Lily while walking through Colorado. I really enjoyed his updates and figured he’d write a book.

When I left my firm to come to Italy and get an MBA while starting my own consulting business, I agonized. I wasn’t miserable at all in my law firm, which is precisely why it was so hard. When I made the decision to do it, I sent Mr. Coulson a message and told him that in many ways I was inspired by his decision to leave all that comfort and go do something epic – even if it meant unemployment and (as he puts it in his book) even unemployability.

Then the book came out. It is called Of Men or By The Earth and you can buy it here (in paperback)

…Or here (Kindle version).

I’m not a book critic. I’m not even a big reader. I start about 12 books a year and finish one. Which is why I rarely gush over a book or even recommend one. This is the one book I finished in 2012. I couldn’t put it down (except for the period in Italy in which my iPad charger was broken). From the cover of the book, you know that Mr. Coulson left his law firm and walked across the country with his dog. What you don’t know until you read it is how relatable his story is going to be, no matter who you are.

This is not just a book for lawyers or dog lovers or hikers, although all of those groups will drool over the contents of this book. I challenge anyone to fail to relate to Mr. Coulson’s can’t-put-your-finger-on-why-it-isn’t-working-but-it-just-isn’t relationship with his girlfriend back home, or his teeth-grinding frustrations with his airhead hiking partner, or the crushing boredom that comes with a steady job you kind of fell into. Importantly, he never pretends to be a saint and that’s just why you like him.

For about the price of a breakfast, this book is a total must-buy.

*Above The Law later nominated Mr. Coulson for 2011 Lawyer of the Year, reserved for lawyers who do cool things, not who bill the most hours.