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A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

4.2 582
by Bill Bryson

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For reasons even he didn't understand, Bill Bryson decided in 1996 to walk the 2,100-mile Appalachian trail. Winding from Georgia to Maine, this uninterrupted 'hiker's highway' sweeps through the heart of some of America's most beautiful and treacherous terrain. Accompanied by his infamous crony, Stephen Katz, Bryson risks snake bite and hantavirus to trudge up

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A Walk In The Woods (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition) 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 582 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an almost brilliant and deeply flawed work, which I nonetheless highly recommend for its humor and wealth of easily-digested historical and environmental information. One of the things that characterizes the absolute pinnacle of comedic achievement is the willingness to make any and every sort of spectacle of onesself for a laugh...along with the comedic sensibility to carry it off. Gilda Radner as the girl scout. Carol Burnett wearing the curtain rod. Richard Pryor as himself. Bill Bryson proves as early as page 19 that self-humiliating physical comedy can work even in print. One of the problems with this book, however, is that he gets most of his laughs by similarly humiliating everyone he encounters during his on-again, off-again hike of the Appalachian Trail. He has sadly forgotten another of the hallmarks of comedic genius: laughing with, rather than at, one's felllow human being. Bryson seems to revel in a mean-spiritedness that is all the more disturbing in light of his obvious intelligence and insight. He is talented enough to forgo the cheap shots and, besides, he should know better. I began to understand why his family was afraid of him embarassing them. Another and more baffling problem is Bryson's seeming blindness to the rich experience of the wilderness. He has a sort of generalized awe for the majesty of the forest as a whole, here and there, almost as if he occasionally remembered to take a snapshot. But he so belabors his observation that every stretch of forest is like every other, one tree just like the next, that you can't help wondering, as he very frequently does himself, what he is doing there. I personally find a small miracle every three inches along whatever trail I walk. His failure to do so, and the prohibitions he mentions against leaving the trail, made me repeatedly envision a wall of streaky glass along both sides of the path between him and the forest. Which in turn made me picture the trail eventually coming to resemble a sort of museum of the outdoors. Maybe it already is one. Bryson is certainly honest. He makes no bones about whining and wishing for Big Macs, and his clear inability to enjoy the here-and-now. Yet a wistful tone is audible when he speaks of the destruction of the forests, and he has lovingly gathered and presented such a wealth of environmental and historical facts as to nearly make this book a primer for the budding environmentalist. In the end, Bryson himself becomes as fascinating and frustrating as the trail itself. Why is such an insightful person so insensitive to the forest's small delights, and to his fellow human beings? How can he be so courageous and whiny at the same time? (Good time to mention his sidekick, Katz, who somehow actually manages to pull it off with more aplomb. Maybe because Bryson tore him apart so thoroughly at the beginning that you feel sorry for him forever after.) Despite Bill Bryson's being older than I by a number of years, he seems so like young kids now. So lost without modern 'conveniences,' mainly because that is all they know. And yet, little by little, in this book, you can see the light get in around Bryson's blinders. He begins to find civilization ugly and wish for the forest whenever he leaves it. Which is, all in all, an encouraging message.
totton More than 1 year ago
I cannot remember the last time I read a book that had me laughing so hard. In fact, I would be laughing so much that people would ask me what I was laughing about. While it took Bryson's excellent writing to put the story on paper, it took Katz to make it worth reading. This is the story of two college buddies who reunite in their 40s to walk the Appalachian Trail. Neither one are in shape for their endeavor but that doesn't deter them. Along the way they meet some interesting people (Mary Ellen for one) and find themselves in some funny situations. This is a must read for anyone. In fact, it should be required academic reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a GREAT book and everyone must read it it. It is not only hilarious, but incredibly informative, which are not two things that usually go together. I've been reading this book in my quiet house only to laugh right out loud and then go in search of someone so I can read the passage out loud! I am a hiker as well, and can greatly appreciate Bryson's experiences. I know it is not a new release, but I don;t care. Go get it and then pass it along. I am on my way to get In a Sunburned Country because I am almost done with this one.
J_A_W More than 1 year ago
Bill Bryson found a perfect way to portray voyaging across the AT with ease. Bryson lays out his journey in an entertaining matter that will suck the reader in and make you feel like you are right beside him. Bryson's adventures make you laugh and give you the urge to walk the AT yourself - if not the whole thing at least a portion of it. Excellent reading for anyone, especially those with a passion for outdoors.
PostalDeb More than 1 year ago
This is the second Bill Bryson book I have read recently, and I am definitely a new fan. Bill's travel writing takes me there in vivid and hilarious detail. A friend let me borrow "In a Sunburned Country", and after reading it I felt as if I had traveled to Australia myself. So after perusing the choices of his other books, I decided I next wanted to walk the Appalachian Trail (from the comfort of cozy couch - chips and drink right next to me). He did not disappoint. I felt hot, tired and thirsty when he did, felt angered by his description of past and present environmental stupidities, and laughed out loud at the characters he met along his journey. I can hardly wait to read my next choice, The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America. I'm sure he'll take me to all the quirky American places I never knew I wanted to visit! Thank you, Bill!
mayflowerKY More than 1 year ago
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Good balance of telling the story of his walk and adding history and science to make it interesting. His friend Katz also added much to make the story interesting. I found myself rooting for Katz and liking him. I live near the Trail and learned more from this book than I could have learned locally.
CarolinaRM More than 1 year ago
Bill Bryson laces funny events with the history of the Appalachian Trail. You hear a lot about hiking the trail but Mr. Bryson puts the difficulty of the venture into real perspective. He also gives the reader insight into the changing face of the Appalachian trail over the centuries. This book was as much a history lesson as it was a light hearted read.
MoonPieMA More than 1 year ago
Perhaps the most entertaining, funny,witty and insiteful story ever written.My favorite book by Bill Bryson!! You will laugh out loud and you may even be inspired to get into the great outdoors.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful book. I learned so much and laughed so hard l would love to meet Byson & Katz on any trail,
steveforbertfan More than 1 year ago
I would never go hiking, so I don't even know what made me want to read this book. But I'm so glad I did. It was so interesting, so effortless to read, so funny, so touching so... I can't say enough about it. Bill bryson is everyman and yet he is so unique. I love the way he draws you into his persona and whatever he is passionately writing about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a very entertaining book. I thoughly enjoyed it.
DrJenski More than 1 year ago
The first half of this book was good enough to keep me interested. I was bored by the second half. I expected to read about an exciting adventure, but his journey was actually pretty boring.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
After a friend let me borrow this, I went on a Bryson binge. Get hooked!
johnpaulgeorge More than 1 year ago
I have by-passed this book several times. I remember reading a similar book about a hiker in Alaska who dies, which was very depressing. This book is FUNNY! Two essential couch potatoes decide to hike the Appalachian Trail. Many times I've laughed out loud. My husband wants to know what I'm laughing about! Very good read; good to give as a gift. In fact, I was going to email my sister and niece about this book today! I highly recommend it.
blondie60 More than 1 year ago
I was expecting a dry write-up about hiking and was surprised to be laughing after the first few pages of this wonderful little gem-of-a-book! Whether you are a hiker or not you will thoroughly enjoy this story of two hikers on the Appalachian trail which runs over 2000 miles.
Anonymous 9 months ago
KimHeniadis 9 months ago
This was one that I read for the book club at the library. Some of the older patrons had mentioned Bill Bryson and that they had enjoyed his books, so I chose this one. I will say I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Most of the other people at the chat are older than me, and mentioned numerous times that they found a lot of the parts funny. I did find a couple of things amusing, but I think it may be a generational thing, since a co-worker who is close to my age, didn’t really find the book that funny either. While Bill Bryson and his walking companion, Katz, did find growth by the end of the book, I didn’t really find their story that engaging. It seemed like they walked, complained, found a room for the night, and continued the same routine again the next day. What I did enjoy was the history that Bryson incorporated into the book. It was fascinating to find out how the trail came to be, and the history of various stops along the trail. For that alone I would say to give this book a read. The library patrons said all of his books are similar in style, and since I did enjoy this one, I may check out some of his other books including; Down Under and A Short History of Nearly Everything.
Anonymous 11 months ago
Sex is very great when you went to be a mother and a father and when you went to start your own family then you can have all the sex you weny
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sex is good
merve tekcan More than 1 year ago
First and last Bryson book I'll ever read. Hard to believe he's a celebrated author. Read the one star reviews they are accurate. Trying something challenging and hazardous as backpacking the AT when you are ill equipped is just stupid. He laughs and trivializes picking equipment, like a motorcycle racer laughing about helmets. They eat noodles and snickers bars for substance while physically exerting and relying on their stamina for survival, akin to a marathon runner eating donuts and twinkles. Stupid, just stupid arrogant rich guys poking fun at a serious undertaking. And the writing is mostly juvenile. Finally despite the cover, there's NO bears in their experience! It would be better that there was a bear, and it ate them, then there would be no book. FOR MORE COMMENTS AND REVİEWS..
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sorry I paid for this book a few funny stories in the begging but that was about it. Did not enjoy this book at all for me was not worth the money.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It gave an interesting viewpoint on hiking the Appalachian Trail. His whole story is quite impressive, entertaining, and informative.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What can I say except Bill Bryson is the best just as other reviews I found myself laughing outloud. My husband would ask what is so funny and I would start telling him and start laughing. Great book and funny,