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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » A Walk in the Woods : Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail » User review

More than a walk in the woods

  • Feb 1, 2011
  • by
Bill Bryson has written a hiking narrative, well sorta. In fact, Bryson has written a hiking narrative that focuses less on the trail and more on the overall experience. This includes the history, the people, and the day-to-day struggles of the hiker. The end result is a wonderful story that weaves together Bryson's trademark humor with a perspective on the wilderness of the trail.

A few reviewers have found fault that Bryson doesn't get a step-by-step account of the AT...other complain that Bryson complains too much about the challenges that he encountered. However, It is true that Bryson did not walk the trail straight through, but how many of us really have time for that? However, he was not trying to write a trail guide nor was he shy about explaining that walking a 2,100 mile trail was not easy. He is able to write a true story about the challenges faced and the characters that you may walk across while on the trail. Whether it is Mary Ellen and her annoying non-stop opinions or the college kids that are inconsiderate to their fellow cabin mates.

Final verdict -

The net effect of "A Walk in the Woods" is a story that inspires - to the point where I was trying to determine if I could take 6-months off from work to walk it myself. I really can't recommend it highly enough - unless you are looking for a straight trail guide. If you are looking for either a great (relatively quick) read or as a nice supplement to your AT reading material "A Walk in the Woods" is tough to beat.

5 Stars

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December 21, 2011
Nice write-up. this sounds like a great read!
More A Walk in the Woods : Rediscov... reviews
review by . July 25, 2010
Perhaps it was a fit of angst dealing with his own personal version of a mid-life crisis that led Bill Bryson to tackle the challenge of hiking the 2,100 mile Appalachian Trail! It was certainly a solid understanding of his own personality and clear recognition of his own physical and mental limitations that prompted him to invite his friend, Stephen Katz, an overweight and out of shape recovering alcoholic with an inordinate fondness for snack foods and cream soda to accompany him on this daunting …
review by . June 20, 2010
Personally, I could care less about hiking and even less about hiking gear but I adore Bill Bryson's writing so picked this one up and loved it. It is a comedic adventure with two 'very out of shape' men: Bryson and the lovable Katz walking the extent of the Appalachian trail that runs from Georgia to Maine. I laughed out loud numerous times as the 75 lb packs got emptied within the first two miles and the wacky characters they met while walking. Sounds dull while I write it but I swear, …
review by . December 14, 2008
Please don't buy this book if you are an uber-hiker who spends every weekend seeing how far you can get, and you think this book will teach you about the AT. It isn't meant for that. It's for the rest of us--who will talk to friends around a dinner table and remark about how cool it would be to hike sections of the AT someday... but we're probably not ever going to get there. Bryson's book gives us a nice taste of what kind of sacrifice is required for that sort of adventure. Most of us aren't willing …
review by . October 18, 2007
I've been a Bryson fan since a British friend gave me a copy of "The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America" years ago -- what, I wonder, was his point??    "A Walk in the Woods" is more entertaining if you've read "Notes from a Small Island" (1997). In that book, Bryson takes a walking trip around Britain, his home of nearly 20 years, before returning to live in the States. When you walk around Britain, you can take the train on the hard bits and have a pub meal and bed …
review by . July 14, 2007
I am giving this book 4 stars instead of 5 only because I found the beginning part of the book (before they actually start hiking) to be slow and boring. Once they started the Trail, though, it was anything but boring. Not only were there constant laughs to be had and great stories of their adventures on the trail, but I am really thankful to Mr. Bryson for including so much of the environmental information that he did. It was really eye opening and incredibly sad what we are doing to our natural …
review by . November 13, 2005
Bryson is good fun. I had never thought about hiking the trail, but after reading this... I'm happy to appreciate the adventure through Bryson's eyes. While the adventure is daunting, Bysron makes it seem certainly possible for anyone to try.
review by . September 11, 2004
I enjoyed this one. Very humerous at times, and very "real." This is not the sort of book for those who take themselves too serious...he rather pokes fun at the "supper hiker," and the other ego seekers. The books is about a average dude walking a very difficult walk, with the outcome being rather predictable. I enjoyed this one and very much recommend it.
review by . March 22, 2000
This is a well-written, lively and entertaining book. As the solicitor for the little town of Centralia, PA, which the author visited, and as a native son of the nearby town of Mount Carmel, where he had a meal, I felt personally involved in the author's travels on the Trail. The writing is crisp, with a deep sense of humor that made the reading time pass so very quickly.
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At one time, I may have been the world's biggest baseball fan. However, now that I have a family I amin danger of falling out of the top 100. In addition to my beautiful wife and lovely daughter (and … more
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Your initial reaction to Bill Bryson's reading ofA Walk in the Woodsmay well be "Egads! What a bore!" But by sentence three or four, his clearly articulated, slightly adenoidal, British/American-accented speech pattern begins to grow on you and becomes quite engaging. You immediately get a hint of the humor that lies ahead, such as one of the innumerable reasons he longed to walk as many of the 2,100 miles of the Appalachian Trail as he could. "It would get me fit after years of waddlesome sloth" is delivered with glorious deadpan flair. By the time our storyteller recounts his trip to the Dartmouth Co-op, suffering serious sticker shock over equipment prices, you'll be hooked.

When Bryson speaks for the many Americans he encounters along the way--in various shops, restaurants, airports, and along the trail--he launches into his American accent, which is whiny and full of hard r's. And his southern intonations are a hoot. He's even got a special voice used exclusively when speaking for his somewhat surprising trail partner, Katz. In the 25 years since their school days together, Katz has put on quite a bit of weight. In fact, "he brought to mind Orson Welles after a very bad night. He was limping a little and breathing harder than one ought to after a walk of 20 yards." Katz often speaks in monosyllables, and Bryson brings his limited vocabulary humorously to life. One of Katz's more memorable utterings is "flung," ...

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ISBN-10: 0385658583
ISBN-13: 978-0385658584
Author: Bill Bryson
Publisher: Doubleday Canada, Limited

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