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A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail (original 1998; edition 2006)

by Bill Bryson

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10,837285259 (4.01)430
Member:5hrdrive
Title:A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
Authors:Bill Bryson
Info:Anchor (2006), Edition: 2nd, Mass Market Paperback, 397 pages
Collections:Your library, 2012, pre-2007
Rating:***1/2
Tags:non-fiction, 20th century, travel, appalachian trail, hiking, mmp, 3.5

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A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson (1998)

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Showing 1-5 of 279 (next | show all)
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I read it during a period in which I was really into the idea of hiking the Appalachian Trail (still am, but not as much), which is something I'll probably never be physically able to do but which is fun to read about.

This book was so much better than I thought it would be. Bryson had me screaming with laughter and pounding the arm of my chair when he described his imagined reaction to hearing a bear outside of his tent. I loved his honesty and the realism of the story (of course, it's a true story, but such things often get embellished). Bryson's point is not to brag about how far he and a friend got on the trail, nor is it to try to persuade others to take on the hike. He simply describes his often funny experiences on the trail, from the people he saw to the food he ate and the wildlife he encountered (or, really, that encountered him). I also liked the tidbits of information about how the trail came to be and how it is managed. People often overlook these important facts, and reading about them made me appreciate how hard people work to keep the trail open for generations to come. It made me want to at least hike a little bit of it someday, even though I'd have to get on an international flight to get there.

Great, funny read. Highly recommended. ( )
2 vote athenaharmony | Aug 3, 2014 |
A Hilarious Series of Misadventures, History Lesson, and Buddy Tale All in One

I don't think I'm ever NOT reading this book--it's one of the 5 I would take to a desert island. First book I remember that made me laugh out loud until I cried. Lewis and Clark meet Laurel and Hardy, by way of Mark Twain. Bryson is the best travel writer, period. Five stars. ( )
  Pat_F. | Jul 25, 2014 |
This is a work of narrative non fiction. The author gives an account of his effort to walk the Appalacian Trail, a 2200 mile trail through America for hikers. This is an honest narration about the highs and lows of that trek. There is some amount of geology and lot of history told with a funny turn of phrase. It makes for a nice and entertaining read. ( )
  mausergem | Jun 10, 2014 |
Bill Bryson decides he wants to walk the entire Appalachian Trail (but does he, actually? He'll let you know). This was back in the 1990s, when I suspect isolation was much greater due to the relative lack of internet availability and smartphones didn't exist. Bryson does acquire a walking partner who is an unlikely volunteer -- Katz is overweight and favors junk food as fuel.

This book started out hilarious; I was laughing so much. As it went on, Bryson's snarky tendencies (especially towards other hikers encountered along the trail) started to wear on me. Still, I found it fascinating reading -- he includes tidbits about how the government handles the trail (not very well) and about animals that are encountered, or might be encountered, along the trail. His descriptions about what he learned regarding bears was truly hair-raising.

And, no, it didn't make me want to give the Appalachian trail a shot (beyond maybe a couple miles). But I don't think that was Bryson's goal, to make people clamor to try it; he did not mince words about how hard his experiences were. ( )
1 vote ValerieAndBooks | May 31, 2014 |
The book is a wandering, laugh-out-loud funny account of a trek on the trail and the people they meet plus a smattering of history about the AT and its environs. I didn't find the history parts dull at all. The exploits of Bryson and his friend kept me chuckling. He has a way of describing things that is witty and acute. And in case you're wondering- he was constantly worried about meeting bears- but pretty much the worst incident is his friend getting lost. They hiked 500 miles (almost a third) of the trail before realizing they weren't going to make it all the way and decided to sample portions of the rest.

more at the Dogear Diary ( )
  jeane | May 21, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 279 (next | show all)
Bryson's breezy, self-mocking tone may turn off readers who hanker for another ''Into Thin Air'' or ''Seven Years in Tibet.'' Others, however, may find themselves turning the pages with increasing amusement and anticipation as they discover that they're in the hands of a satirist of the first rank, one who writes (and walks) with Chaucerian brio.
 
[Bryson] was often exhausted, his ''brain like a balloon tethered with string, accompanying but not actually part of the body below.'' The reader, by contrast, is rarely anything but exhilarated. And you don't have to take a step.
 

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bill Brysonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Goddijn, ServaasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roberts, WilliamNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Katz, of course
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Not long after I moved with my family to a small town in New Hampshire I happened upon a path that vanished into a wood on the edge of town.
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ISBN 0552152153 refers to the abridged version. Please do not combine with unabridged works.
ISBN 0-553-45592-3 and 978-0-553-45592-2 refer to the abridged audiobook version. Please do not combine with unabridged works.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0307279464, Mass Market Paperback)

Your initial reaction to Bill Bryson's reading of A Walk in the Woods may 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," as in flung most of his provisions over the cliff because they were too heavy to carry any farther.

The author has thoroughly researched the history and the making of the Appalachian Trail. Bryson describes the destruction of many parts of the forest and warns of the continuing perils (both natural and man-made) the Trail faces. He speaks of the natural beauty and splendor as he and Katz pass through, and he recalls clearly the serious dangers the two face during their time together on the trail. So, A Walk in the Woods is not simply an out-of-shape, middle-aged man's desire to prove that he can still accomplish a major physical task; it's also a plea for the conservation of America's last wilderness. Bryson's telling is a knee-slapping, laugh-out-loud funny trek through the woods, with a touch of science and history thrown in for good measure. (Running time: 360 minutes, four cassettes) --Colleen Preston

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:29:29 -0400)

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Traces the author's adventurous trek along the Appalachian Trail past its natural pleasures, human eccentrics, and offbeat comforts.

(summary from another edition)

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