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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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11,214298250 (4.01)452
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 292 (next | show all)
A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trailwas recommended to me by a co-worker who has spent some time hiking and biking various parts of the Appalachian Trail (henceforth known as the "AT"). Bryson is a humorist who has traveled the U.S. and Europe and wrote this in 1998 while living in the U.S. temporarily.

It is hard to know what is embellished and what is fact in this book, but it's certain that Bryson and an old high school classmate Kratz--overweight and out of shape-- attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. Bryson is originally from the Midwest, resides in the North, and is unfamiliar with the strange ways of the hillbillies of Georgia and Tennessee. The hikers fare pretty well compared to many who give up the AT after just a few days. They survive record cold weather, snow, losing a bunch of their gear, drunk drivers, and strange or annoying hiking companions. Upon reaching Gatlinburg, they decide to bypass Kentucky by rental car (to my disappointment) and hike in Virginia. Eventually, they call it quits and decide to reunite and hike the northern part of the trail later on.

Bryson includes many facts on the history of the AT, the geography and wildlife, and is often highly critical of the U.S. Forest Service. His adventures with Katz are entertaining, sometimes fairly profane. The second half of the book where Bryson is doing some solo hiking and exploring is more dull. Eventually he and Katz are reunited for a brief and disappointing last attempt at hiking before calling it quits for good. They are rightly proud of their accomplishments. I learned a bit about the AT, and was entertained. I give it 3 stars out of 5.
( )
  justindtapp | Jun 3, 2015 |
Hilarious. Made me want to hike the Appalachian Trail! ( )
  katherineemilysmith | May 4, 2015 |
I thought this novel was very informative and very humorous. ( )
  OliviaGoymour | Apr 29, 2015 |
In the mid-90's, humorist Bill Bryson decided he would take on the monumental feat of walking the Appalachian Trail. The AT runs approximately 2100 miles from George to Maine (there's a whole chapter discussing measurement of its precise length). A friend of his, Katz, offers to come along. A reformed alcoholic, single, middle-aged couch potato, Katz didn't seem to give it much thought when agreeing to go. We all know that kind of guy...the one who wants to come along for the party, even if there is little party to be had.

Taking up hiking and starting with such an extraordinary adventure is kind of like taking up running and immediately signing up for an ultra marathon. While Bryson researched this trip for nearly a year before starting, the lack of actual experience meant he was still woefully unprepared. Bryson conveys the history of the trail, history of certain landmarks along the way, and the culture of fellow hikers throughout the course of the book.

Slowed down from the start by unusually brutal weather, Bryson and Katz quickly fell off the pace required to finish in the typical 7 months it takes for successful hikers to complete the journey. Side trips to towns get a little longer, and start to expand beyond a night in an inn and some hot gruel. Before long, they are renting cars, and catching up on the distance deficit the easy way. In the end, they actually hiked nearly 40% of the trail -- a good effort, and Bryson spins this into a fine story. I like to hike, but I've never been tempted by the AT (not after watching Deliverance when I was a kid). Reading this book makes me less inclined -- the hardships endured were real, and the "this is why we do this" moments seemed too few and too far between. I'll stick to day hikes for now, when I know what to expect when I get there, and can choose to endure bad weather or not. ( )
1 vote JeffV | Apr 26, 2015 |
A fun memoir by Bill Bryson, detailing his experience hiking the AT. This was an enjoyable (and often hysterical) read, and something I buzzed through pretty quickly. I had a slightly different expectation going into the book - I thought he was a "thru hiker," and did the entire trail all in one go, but he actually was a section hiker who ended up accomplishing less than half of the trail (which is still an incredible feat, something I highly doubt I will ever do, and I consider myself a pretty avid hiker). Bryson also packed his book full of interesting and historical facts, although at times they dragged his narrative a bit. Personally, I found part one to be a lot better than part two. Definitely a book I would recommend to anyone interested in the AT, or hiking trips in general. ( )
  skrouhan | Apr 14, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 292 (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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:30 -0400)

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

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