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A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail (original 1997; edition 2006)

by Bill Bryson

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11,670347228 (4.01)482
Member:Cruiseheimers
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
Rating:*****
Tags:light reading

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A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson (1997)

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English (341)  German (3)  Dutch (2)  French (1)  All languages (347)
Showing 1-5 of 341 (next | show all)
This was a delightful read, full of humor and some good editorialized research and--for me, best of all--a deep-rooted and honest awe of the wilderness, in the classic use of the word "awe": Bryson is by turns (and sometimes simultaneously) reverential toward nature and terrified of it, and he sells both emotions very well.

There are some unexpected flaws in the prose, strangely. At the beginning of the book Bryson employs an expert blend of reportage and personal narrative, moving with seamless ease from background and facts about the Appalaccians and their flora and fauna and into his own experiences leading up to and then on the trail. Unfortunately, about halfway in Bryson breaks into a kind of shoddy parody of himself, the smoothness of his transitions utterly gone. By the last third of the book he's actually allowing himself hokey lines like, "But enough of arresting anecdotes. Let's toy with this fascinating malady ourselves." (That's not a "for instance," that's a direct quote.) It's jarring and unnecessary. Also, the pace of the second part of the book feels rushed. This is in part due to the nature of Bryson's quest, which was in reality abbreviated, but it still throws off the structure of the last 2/5 of the book.

But despite these admittedly minor problems, A Walk in the Woods remains a pleasure, sometimes on a par with Bill Roorbach's excellent Temple Stream. And I'll admit to a kind of nostalgia while reading it, because it was my father--who has a degree in forestry and worked for the Boy Scouts of America for a while--who recommended the book to me, and I frequently caught myself in reveries about our brief hikes through Lost Maples or Friedrich Wilderness Park or even our own back yard. Bryson makes me want to hike again, and I plan to take it up as a more serious hobby (though not on the scale Bryson attempts) when next I get a chance. I might even get out for a hike with my dad. ( )
  Snoek-Brown | Feb 7, 2016 |
This is about Bryson's attempt to walk the 2100 mile Appalachian Trail with his childhood friend Stephen Katz. The walkers have experiences that are laugh out loud funny but Bryson is also a serious nature lover and makes many tart comments about the environmental loses that have been perpetuated upon the woods along the trail. Some of those he explains so thoroughly that I had a hard time following along but the book is well worth reading for both enjoyment and for learning about environmental issues. ( )
  clue | Feb 2, 2016 |
This was entertaining as Bryson always is. I did not find it as informative as some of my favorites of his. ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 27, 2016 |
Bill Bryson sets out to walk the Appalachian trail, accompanied (at first) by a friend. Some amusing anecdotes, interesting background and vivid descriptions to bring the trail to life. But some of it read a bit too like a text-book for my tastes. ( )
  SueinCyprus | Jan 26, 2016 |
Interesting, informative, humorous. Very well-written. I would enjoy reading this again and would also like to read more from this author. ( )
  Suziere | Jan 24, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 341 (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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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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