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A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America…
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A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail (1997)

by Bill Bryson

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11,669347228 (4.01)482
English (341)  German (3)  Dutch (2)  French (1)  All languages (347)
Showing 1-25 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 |
Never have I laughed so hard since reading Wodehouse. This guy is truly very funny. Here is a snippet "The article also described several people who had got lost with satellite navigation devices. They were able to report their positions as 36.2 degrees north by 17.48 degrees west or whatever but unfortunately didn't have the faintest idea what that meant, as they hadn't brought maps or compasses or, evidently, brains."
  danoomistmatiste | Jan 24, 2016 |
An amusing book with lots of hilarious anecdotes and some interesting historical facts about the areas the author was walking through. The style of writing was clear and well suited to the story. Nothing award winning here but a good, solid book. ( )
  extraflamey | Jan 18, 2016 |
An amusing book with lots of hilarious anecdotes and some interesting historical facts about the areas the author was walking through. The style of writing was clear and well suited to the story. Nothing award winning here but a good, solid book. ( )
  extraflamey | Jan 18, 2016 |
Never have I laughed so hard since reading Wodehouse. This guy is truly very funny. Here is a snippet "The article also described several people who had got lost with satellite navigation devices. They were able to report their positions as 36.2 degrees north by 17.48 degrees west or whatever but unfortunately didn't have the faintest idea what that meant, as they hadn't brought maps or compasses or, evidently, brains."
  kkhambadkone | Jan 17, 2016 |
Bill Bryson noticed a small trail leading into the woods near his home in New Hampshire. The posted sign noted that it was the Appalachian Trail, which runs 2100 miles from Georgia to Maine. Mulling it over, he decided to hike the trail and talked a friend into joining him. So began the tale of two over weight, non-athletic, middle-aged men and the hike of a lifetime. Part travelogue and part ruminations on the National Park Service, The Army Corp of Engineers, coal mines, the Civil war, Bryson puts together a very interesting book that is sometimes funny, sad, and irritating. While I don’t have any desire to attempt to hike the trail at my age, I enjoyed the armchair travel. ( )
  punxsygal | Jan 16, 2016 |
I love Bill Bryson's skill in weaving together interesting historical information with his modern-day hilarious hijinx--in A Walk in the Woods, he's providing interesting and obscure tidbits about the Appalachian Trail, together with stories of his adventures while hiking the trail with his out-of-shape and incredibly amusing friend, Katz. I found myself chuckling regularly as this story unfolded. ( )
  kimberwolf | Jan 16, 2016 |
Bill and his friend Katz decide they are going to walk the 2000 mile Appalachian Trail and to say that they bit off more than they could chew is an understatement of majestic proportion. From Bill's first experience with a sporting goods outfitter (way too much stuff for way too much money) to the last steps he took on the AT, I was entertained. Bryson is quick to poke fun at himself and his, at times, woeful attempts to be one with nature. I enjoyed the stories of the people he met along the trail; the constantly lost 'Chicken George', a pack of inept boy scouts, a group of partying young people who take over the sleeping lodge. Along the way Bryson and Katz learn a lot about themselves, one being that they are not AT hikers. When they look at a scale map of the trail and realize that after walking for weeks they had only covered about 2" of the map they rethink their hiking strategy and start picking and choosing different parts of the trail to visit. No, they did not complete the trail but Bryson managed well over 800 miles and was justifiably proud of that.

Bryson gives a lot of history and well researched information about the Trail, famous hikers and the areas the trail crosses. Growing up in Eastern Massachusetts I am well acquainted with some of the mountains he mentions. Mount Washington in New Hampshire is exactly how Bryson describes it with the wind at hurricane speed and temperatures that can drop treacherously within a matter of minutes. And how beautiful it is to look out over a forest of trees that were many shades of green and are now blazing reds, oranges, yellows and golds.

This was my first experience with Bryson and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I'm so glad that there are several more that I can delve into.
( )
  Ellen_R | Jan 15, 2016 |
From book jacket: Returning to the United States after 20 years in England, Bryson decided to reacquaint himself with America by walking the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail. He persuaded his friend Stephen Katz to join him, and through weeks and months on the trail these two pioneers get in touch with a lot more than just life on the trail.

I had previously read Bryson’s memoir of his childhood in Des Moines (The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid), and really enjoyed his humor. I was expecting that same feeling. But in this book Bryson is not so funny. Yes, there are humorous episodes, but Bryson spends most of the book explaining the history of the Appalachian Trail and waxing poetic about the beauty and majesty of these forests. He indulges in philosophical and political discussion. A paragraph towards the end says it perfectly: I gained a profound respect for wilderness and nature and the benign dark power of woods. I understand now, in a way I never did before, the colossal scale of the world. I found patience and fortitude that I didn’t know I had. I discovered an America that millions of people scarcely know exists.

I’m glad I read it, and I’ll read more Bryson, but I will no longer assume his writing is “humor.”
( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 13, 2016 |
Very enjoyable to read. Lots of good humor and lots of good information - a rare combination. Filled with cautions (re: bears, hypothermia, crazy people, carrying a 50-lb pack, etc.), if you still want to hike the AT (Appalachian Trail) after reading this book, you should. For myself, I'm inspired to do more day hikes close to home. But I hear the AT calling me ... ( )
  tgraettinger | Jan 11, 2016 |
This book both really makes me want to go do a long trail lke tha Appalachian as well as hestitate and question wether I would really be ready. Bryson's humour make this a lighter read than some similar outdoor books that read more like a dry detailed journal or field guide. He has to make some sacrifices and choices that any of us might face while taking on such a big goal. ( )
  taylor_cc | Jan 6, 2016 |
The first half of the book is absolutely incredible. It is good the entire way through, but lags a bit in the last half. ( )
  rlittlejn | Dec 27, 2015 |
Mixture of amusing observation and confidently wrong opinions (i.e. dismissing the ferocity of the moose as nonsense). What leaves a bad taste in the mouth, however, is the fact that there is not a single sympathetic woman in the book, other than two who had their throats cut by a maniac on the AT and the vague figure of Bryson's wife. The rest are ugly stereotypes: obnoxious harridans, horny diner waitresses, vapid college women, etc. But for all its bluster and misogyny, it occasionally made me laugh and it did make me want to go for a walk. ( )
  middlemarchhare | Nov 25, 2015 |
Re-read December 2013. Originally read September 2011. I wanted to re-read this book after seeing Bryson speak in person in October. This book was just as informative and hilarious the second time around. Still made me want to get out there and start hiking and see what adventures I could have. As an added bonus, I convinced my boy to read along with me!

Originally read September 23-26, 2011. This is only my second Bryson, but I'm incredibly eager to read all he's written. He takes the reader on an intimate adventure - I felt like I was alongside him for all of his journey hiking the Appalachian Trail. He's very honest, never makes himself out to sound more intelligent or fit than he actually is, and always admits his mistakes so others may learn from him... or laugh at him. Actually, I think he invites readers to laugh with him, because he has an excellent sense of humor and makes even the most mundane days on the trail seem like an exciting experience. ( )
  howifeelaboutbooks | Nov 4, 2015 |
Bill Bryson enlists his buddy and former hiking partner Steven Katz to join him in an attempt to hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail . Starting from Georgia and proceeding north to Maine, Bryson shares many of his experiences on the trail--the people he meets, the dangers he encounters, the frustrations, and the ecstasies. After Bryson and Katz cover some of the more challenging stretches of the trail, the two reconsider whether they’d, in fact, like to hike it in its entirety. Even though I was disappointed to learn that Bryson ended up by hiking the trail in fragments (and partially without Katz,), I was quickly cheered by the entertaining story Bryson told.

A Walk in the Woods is truly an amusing romp in the woods. If not for Bryson and Katz, it certainly is for the reader. It is especially worthwhile listening to the story on audio tape, as the notes of anguish and others of hilarity come out so well in McLarty’s narration. The book is not only fun, but educational as well. Bryson loves to throw in tidbits of information on all aspects of his trail environment. Katz is an incredibly funny individual (although I’m not sure I’d choose him as a hiking partner if I had a strenuous trail to hike and needed a dependable partner). For some light-hearted, yet interesting reading, grab this book. ( )
  SqueakyChu | Oct 23, 2015 |
I actually listened to the Audible edition of this book. I'm interested in the Appalachian Trail and enjoy Bryson's writing, so I really enjoyed it. ( )
  Auj | Oct 9, 2015 |
DNF'd at 85% just couldn't get past the info dumps, or maybe I just don't like books about hiking. Narration was well done although I wanted it to be Mark Bramhall I think his voice would have fit the age of the characters better. ( )
  susiesharp | Oct 7, 2015 |
I read the book after seeing the movie, and, as much as I enjoyed the movie the book is even better. It is a combination of his personal experience with the history and geography of the AT and its surroundings. Since I live only minutes from the AT, I especially enjoyed Bryson's delight in Shenandoah National Park, and the humor of his trials in Waynesboro. I could imagine myself being seduced by the nearness of the trail, as he was from his home in New Hampshire, to decide to make an attempt at a through hike. I liked that he accepted his decision to leave he trail when he needed to, and do other pieces and parts of it, rather than giving up entirely when a through hike just wasn't going to work. Bryson has a wonderfully readable voice and entertaining turn of words, yet this book is more than entertainment. ( )
  TerriBooks | Oct 7, 2015 |
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson is part travelogue, part comedy, and part monologue. The book is at times informative, at times unkind, and at times funny. It is a personal journey, a social commentary, and a call to action to protect the Appalachian Trail. Overall, my reaction is as diverse as the book itself. Parts I could skip over and parts I really enjoyed.

Read my complete review at: http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2015/10/a-walk-in-woods.html

Reviewed for the Blogging for Books program ( )
  njmom3 | Oct 3, 2015 |
The Appalachian Trail trail stretches from Georgia to Maine and covers some of the most breathtaking terrain in America–majestic mountains, silent forests, sparking lakes. If you’re going to take a hike, it’s probably the place to go. And Bill Bryson is surely the most entertaining guide you’ll find. He introduces us to the history and ecology of the trail and to some of the other hardy (or just foolhardy) folks he meets along the way–and a couple of bears. Already a classic, A Walk in the Woods will make you long for the great outdoors (or at least a comfortable chair to sit and read in). ( )
  makaiju | Oct 1, 2015 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Oh, how I love Bill Bryson. He's everything I look for in an author. A good writer. Brave, but not too much. Human. And funny. Most of all, funny.

So last week I reread A Walk in the Woods. I reread it slowly. It was one of those books you don't want to end. All along the way you are laughing. You just have to laugh at Bryson. He tries to do the hard thing, but it's...well, hard. And his companion, Katz, is equally human. Quintessential Americans.

So much fun. ( )
  debnance | Sep 27, 2015 |
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