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A Walk in the Woods

Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
Bryson, Bill (Book - 1998)
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
A Walk in the Woods
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Stretching from Georgia to Maine, the Appalachian Trail offers some of America's most breathtaking scenery. After living for many years in England, Bill Bryson moved back to the United States and decided to reacquaint himself with his country by taking to this uninterrupted "hiker's highway." Before long, Bryson and his infamous walking companion, Stephen Katz, are stocking up on insulated long johns, noodles and manuals for avoiding bear attacks as they prepare to set off on a walk that is both amusingly ill-conceived and surprisingly adventurous. John Muir, Henry David Thoreau, and Peter Jenkins never took a hike like this. A Walk in the Woods showcases Bryson at the height of his comic powers. Meeting up with characters such as Beulah and her fearsome husband, "Bubba T. Flubba," readers risk snakebite and hantavirus to trudge through swollen rivers, traipse up mountainsteps, and develop a new reverence for cream sodas and hot showers. But Bryson also uses his acute powers of observation to conjure a poignant backdrop of silent forests and sparkling lakes, thereby making a gentle but unforgettable plea for the ecological treasures we are in danger of losing. Fresh, illuminating, and uproariously funny, A Walk in the Woods is travel writing at its very best.
Authors: Bryson, Bill
Title: A walk in the woods
rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
Publisher: New York : Broadway Books, 1998
Local Note: 25.00 (c.1 5/98)
ISBN: 0767902513
Branch Call Number: Non-F 917.4 Bry
Statement of Responsibility: Bill Bryson
Subject Headings: Natural history Appalachian Trail Appalachian Trail Description and travel
Topical Term: Natural history
LCCN: 97032627
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Jun 11, 2013
  • thart rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Read for CLPL Real World Reads Non-Fiction Book Club for June 2013.

This was a funny book about trying to "thru-hike" the Appalachian Trail (AT) from Georgia to Maine. It slows down a little bit about halfway through the book when the author has to take a break because of other previous obligations, but picks back up toward the end. When he tries to just section hike small bits and pieces of the trail on day-hikes by himself it is not as steady a pace or as funny as when he is sincerely hiking it with his friend in earlier portions of the book. It was a nice summer read and was absolutely hilarious in the beginning, filled with factoids about the AT and the environment throughout, and it was also a pretty quick read.

Some of the funniest moments are with his old friend and hiking partner Katz, who tends to whip things off the cliff when he gets frustrated with the weight of his pack, including seemingly weightless items like coffee filters just for the sheer joy of watching them flutter in the wind because he is so frustrated. The author also has some pretty choice things to say about bears, maintaining the trails, and young hikers wearing suede boots and only wanting to party. At times Bryson paints a pretty bleak picture of conservation efforts, including a few crazy things like a town in PA burning for decades because of a spark set to some anthracite coal. I definitely recommend it as a good laugh and as informative at the same time!

Apr 12, 2013
  • JCLAshleyF rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

After discovering a section of the Appalachian Trail near his home, Bill Bryson decides he will walk the entire trail, all 2,100 miles of it. He decides that he needs a companion and after a desperate search he invites an old college buddy along for the journey. Both are ill prepared and naive about what the trip really entails and soon have a rude awakening. Bryson intermixes his personal experiences with facts and information about the history of the trail, its wildlife, and the state of the environment in the United States. Funny and informative at the same time, this book appeals to a wide range of readers.

Jul 26, 2012
  • LorrieChurch rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

An average guy attempts the Appalachian Trail with his fat friend; the comments are wry and funny. I appreciated the "virtual" hike, and learning about the history of the area.e

Apr 10, 2012
  • Sunny39 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Excellent. So funny and so right-on about nature.

Mar 16, 2012
  • danielestes rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Bill Bryson's extraordinary gift as a writer is his prose. His words are lyrical, effortless and efficient. They are the jazz music of the language, possessing a beat and constantly surprising. This was the number one pleasure for me as I read A Walk in the Woods.

This book is probably often described as being about the Appalachian Trail, or more specifically, about hiking it. That isn't quite true since it's not really a trail guide. And yet it's so much more. I would describe A Walk in the Woods as a often hilarious and sometimes somber musing on the environmental progress of eastern North America set against one man's, Bill Bryson's, attempt to hike parts of the trail. He is joined by a long-time acquaintance, Stephen Katz, who is about as irritating and genuinely lovable as one can get.

My sister hiked the complete Appalachian Trail from south to north in 2006. She is very proud of her experience though she will completely agree with Bryson's unromantic assessment that hiking day after day is a long slog. Bryson undoubtedly loves America and it's many natural wonders, and he seems endlessly conflicted about how one can best appreciate the wilderness alongside modern progress. I think that's impression he's trying to convey.

Oct 22, 2011
  • fzlu rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

The history interspersed within the author's personal hiking story were very interesting. I like the way he describes things.

I want to research more about Centralia -- an ex-mining town that has coal burning under it, annd is sitting on enough to burn for a thousand years if the rate of burning remains more or less consistent.

Jan 27, 2011
  • gabby_routhier rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Utterly Hilarious!

Dec 03, 2010
  • victorianoel rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

A pretty good book, packed with historical and present-day facts about America's wilderness. If you are into that sort of thing, you will love this book, but personally I tired of reading how many miles this trail was, how high that mountain was, etc. I had a good laugh every other chapter or so, but can't say I wasn't glad to be done with the book. A nice story, but not my favorite by any means. I probably would have enjoyed it more had I any personal experience with thru-hiking.

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Oct 22, 2011
  • fzlu rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

In America, alas, beauty has become something you drive to, and nature an either/or proposition--either you ruthlessly subjugate it, as at Tocks Dam and a million other places, or you deify it, treat it as something holy and remote, a thing apart, as along the Appalachian Trail. (p. 200)

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