HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America…
Loading...

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

by Bill Bryson

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
10,837285259 (4.01)430
All member reviews
English (279)  German (3)  Dutch (2)  French (1)  All languages (285)
Showing 1-25 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 |
Amusing and informative story about one man's trek along the Appalachian Trail gets bogged down with adverbs and a penchant for a certain obnoxious, negative attitude. A good read, nonetheless. ( )
  Bradley_Kramer | May 15, 2014 |
Sent by Mom, who's cleaning out her bookshelves again. Decided to read because we may be walking bits of this trail in a month or two. First thought: Bill Bryson Is Not As Funny As He Thinks He Is, and this is going to be one of those travel books for people who've never done ANYTHING, so it has to be full of exaggerated perils and discomfort. I mean the Appalachian Trail is not Uzbekistan... But then I got sucked in and stuck with it, and doing so taught me something about why and how I read narrative: the journey AND the protagonist/guide/narrator/author each (if they aren't one and the same) have to keep me engaged with them in some way that's partly cerebral and partly emotional. If the emotional side isn't there (say Italo Calvino)I drop it. If the cerebral isn't there, I "fling it with great force," a la Dorothy Parker. Either way, I now can finally justify all those set-asides I've felt guilty about for years, that weren't just a case of out-and-out bad writing. Not to mention my guilty pleasures as well! If you're going to take any trip, physical or mental, these connections would have to be there, right? QED. ( )
  CSRodgers | May 3, 2014 |
Honest, funny and inspiring. Makes you want to put on your boots and rush out in search of a trail to walk. ( )
  Matt_B | Apr 27, 2014 |
The funniest travel book you will ever read. ( )
  zguba | Apr 25, 2014 |
There is no doubt that Bryson is a well-traveled individual, but he seems so out of his element on the Appalachian Trail. This makes for some pretty hilarious stories– his foray into a camping supply store, meeting other foolhardy hikers, his companion (Katz), crossing paths with a moose, and of course bears. If you’re familiar with Bill Bryson’s writing, then you know it’s never short on snark. Sometimes his style of humor can be exhausting, and it can make him seem pretentious. This is not the case in A Walk in the Woods. For every jeering remark he makes, it’s followed up by an anecdote of his own ineptitude. Hiking the Appalachian Trail seems like it was a humbling experience for Bryson.

Bryson’s account of the trail was satisfying enough, but the gem of the book was his discussion of human interaction with nature. The first half of the book, while it focuses on Bryson’s experience of hiking the trail, introduces the reader to the National Park Services. The NPS is a government organization created to preserve nature, though they have been known to single-handedly eradicate entire species of animal or plant. Oops! The second half of the book provides a more in-depth look at the human/nature relationship and on a broader timeline– from the European explorers first trek into the woods to modern-day ghost town made so because of a massive fire that’s been burning in a coal mine since the 1960s . You come away with the feeling that humans, who have always had a fascination with their surroundings, manage to destroy the beauty of nature out of sheer curiosity or their desire for recognition or monetary compensation.

A Walk in the Woods is the fifth book I’ve read by Bill Bryson, and I think it might be my favorite. It’s a perfect balance of everything that is typical of Bryson’s style. It’s equal parts breathtaking, informative, and hilarious. The landscapes he creates with his words makes me want to trek along over 2,000 miles of the Appalachian Trail myself. Then, he obsesses over bears and hantavirus-carrying mice, which immediately brings me back to reality. I am not a hardy person, and I am better suited to experiencing Mother Nature vicariously through others. Thank goodness for Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods. ( )
  books_n_tea | Apr 1, 2014 |
Another quality book by Bill Bryson. It is amazing how he takes item that do not seem interesting or exciting and makes them so. ( )
  foof2you | Mar 15, 2014 |
Just reread this while on vacation in Vermont. Love it! He goes into so many things, including science, nature, society, and history. I hope the movie does it justice. ( )
  Tahleen | Feb 16, 2014 |
This was my first Bill Bryson book several years ago. I loved it! He has an engaging voice and drew me in from the very beginning. The book is written from a very honest perspective and shows the hardships and trials of a long hike in an engagingly humorous way. It made me want to hike the trail too, just to meet the people along the way. A Walk in the Woods became the first of many of Bryson's books that I have read and loved. Quite a fun read. ( )
  Jamilyn | Jan 21, 2014 |
An old man with little physical strength and no hiking training decides to travel one of the hardest and longest trails in America. Hilarity ensues.

Bill Bryson returns with... not his best narrative, but not his worst. It's not a must-read by any means, but parts of it are entertaining. Especially if you're into hiking. I am not. He experiences annoying fellow hikers, equipment quirks, and frightening himself with bear attacks. Those are entertaining parts. Then there are other parts which are pure description of the purple mountain's majesties that don't work for me, punctuated by random histories of the trail -- what it could have been and what it is.

I still like "Thunderbolt Kid" better. Once his idiot friend leaves in the first half, the book takes a nose dive into tedium. It's too bad he couldn't have deleted those parts and just left the highlights. Hiking is hard to make a compelling story, unless you have bears. Of which, there really aren't any. ( )
  theWallflower | Jan 20, 2014 |
The best way to walk the AT without actually doing it. I cant believe he just did what he did and with whom he did walk that trail. Made me think of times I spent in the woods and water trails. 5 stars.
  oldman | Jan 3, 2014 |
A very fun read. Bryson is whity and very enjoyable to listen to. The whole thing makes me want to get out and hike. ( )
  jakegest | Dec 24, 2013 |
Bryson is kind of annoying. If/when I hike the Appalachian trail I would rather meet up with any of the other "weirdos" (minus the murderers) than him or his friend. While I at first appreciated his more factual commentary on the history of various parts of the trail, his severely misguided generalities about moose made me question all the other factual details he had been bantering about. Moose can be almost as dangerous as black bears if they feel like it, although climbing trees is much more effective I would assume. I would prefer we not hunt them, but they are not cows either - for that matter, cows can seriously harm you given the right circumstances so... ( )
  KingdomOfOdd | Dec 9, 2013 |
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson, narrated by Rob McQuay
4 stars

This is the of Bill Bryson's attempt to walk the Appalachian Trail which stretches from Georgia to Maine. I read his book Notes From a Small Island which was his walking England. I liked that one quite a bit. This one a little less. Mr Bryson provides besides a commentary about his experience, history of the trail, ecology and political commentary. Bill can be funny but some of his humor is a little edgy at times. I did like it more than his The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid and a lot more than his A Short History of Nearly Everything. The narrator was okay. He tried to give different voices to the different people but I thought he mixed them up once in awhile and if you weren't paying attention you could end up wondering, who said that? I like travel books and I give it 4 stars but just barely. ( )
1 vote Kristelh | Nov 16, 2013 |
It is rare that the written word makes me laugh out loud. Many thanks to Bryson - and Katz, of course - for the chuckles and outright guffaws. I learned a lot from this book, as well - the ineptitude, or worse, of the US Forest Service resulting in the loss of numerous plant and animal species; lessons in hypothermia, and a tutorial on anthracite. All very worthwhile and interestingly told. I would have given this book another star but for a glaring bit of mean-spiritedness that made me go back and question everything about the author. His riffs on Mary Ellen were fine with me; she had it coming, as did Luther, and other recipients of Bryson's acid wit. But when he steered off course and spent two pages eviscerating a couple even he acknowledged as "sweetly hesitant and wholesome-looking" for the apparent crime of saying grace before dinner, I have to wonder if Mr. Bryson's judgement is altogether sound. The book is definitely worth reading but Bryson loses a star from me for unnecessary roughness. ( )
  AmourFou | Nov 7, 2013 |
This is my favorite audiobook of all time, I would recommend it to any one. When the author announces that he is going to walk the Appalacchian trail to his editor he is committed to do it. Then he finds out how arduous it really is, and his experience is humourous, taxing and thought provoking. ( )
  Mladies | Oct 30, 2013 |
2/12/2010
  MissJessie | Oct 16, 2013 |
Bill Bryson brings his familiar wit and humor to "A Walk in the Woods" that we’re all familiar with from such wonderful titles as "Mother Tongue: English and How it Got That Way" (1990), "In a Sunburned Country" (2000), and "A Short History of Nearly Everything" (2003), among many others. In it, Bryson shows a rapt preoccupation for the overwhelming landscape in which he has placed himself and his friend Katz. He also skewers other hikers, the American preoccupation with driving cars everywhere, certain historical aspects of the founding of the Appalachian Trail, the U.S. Forest Service, and of course, himself.

I would be pleased to say that he does all this with the typical humor we’ve come to expect from him, but Bryson’s funny moments are separated here by long stretches in which he recounts the physical trials of hiking the Appalachian Trail (“AT”), what he considers the misguided policies in place which govern the trail, people’s abuse of it, and his own disillusion with some of it. The result is a highly personal and believable account with flashes of charm and I’m going to say it, with some longuers as well.

Bryson almost never deals with issues in any deep or serious way, principally as a matter of choice, I assume. He does recite certain kernels of environmental orthodoxy, an area where advocates needlessly play fast and loose with fact in the service of laudable goals. In my reaction to the book, this rises above the level of quibble, but not by much.

Overall, this is an enjoyable bit of Brysonia, full of honesty, and full of Bryson’s own affable persona.

http://bassoprofundo1.blogspot.com/2013/10/a-wlk-in-woods-by-bill-bryson.html ( )
  LukeS | Oct 14, 2013 |
I had long heard great things about Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, but I had yet to read it. I had the perfect reason to finally pick up a copy when Bill Bryson came to Georgia Center for the Book to promote his new book One Summer: America, 1927. I was immediately caught up in Bryson’s storytelling with his droll sense of humor and keen, witty observations. For a middle-aged man who had never so much as gone camping to suddenly decide to tackle the Appalachian Trail is, in itself, fodder for much humor. He managed to turn a trip to the camping store into a laugh-out-loud adventure. His traveling companion provided bumbling comedy himself and, from what Bill said in his talk Friday night, has achieved his own measure of fame due to the book. First published in 1998, the book remains in print and is an official guide to the Appalachian Trail (the AT). Not only does the book contain humorous misadventures, but it is also a fascinating account of the history, geology, and ecology of the AT. I was never bored. I laughed and I learned, often simultaneously. Bryson also meets an amusing cast of characters along the trail (like Chicken John who became notorious for getting lost). I was inspired and thoroughly enjoyed the account of Bryson’s journey. He proved to be the ideal guide for the trail. Now that the fall weather has come to Georgia, I’m tempted to take a walk on the trail myself. I highly recommend this read to anyone who enjoys travel books, hiking, or just plain entertaining storytelling.

Favorite quotes:

Regarding the hike, Bryson muses: “Life takes on a neat simplicity, too. Time ceases to have any meaning. When it is dark, you go to bed, and when it is light again you get up, and everything in between is just in between. It’s quite wonderful, really” (p.100).

An example of learning and laughter combined regarding a time in America where bounties were paid for the killing of predatory animals and wherein some became extinct or endangered as a result: “Rationality didn’t often come into it. Pennsylvania on year paid out $90,000 in bounties for the killing of 130,000 owls and hawks to save the state’s farmers a slightly less than whopping $1,875 in estimated livestock losses. (It is not very often, after all, that an owl carries off a cow.)” (p.291)

“A moose is a cow drawn by a three-year-old” (p. 347).

Favorite words:

desultory
pugnacious
promulgating
peregrinations ( )
1 vote TheLoopyLibrarian | Oct 13, 2013 |
Bill Bryson writes a travel story about his adventures on the Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine in the USA.

The book overall fails to deliver in the way that I have come to expect from Bryson (Having previously read and loved [b:The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America|26|The Lost Continent Travels in Small-Town America|Bill Bryson|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1156042887s/26.jpg|1888943], [b:In a Sunburned Country|24|In a Sunburned Country|Bill Bryson|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1255682275s/24.jpg|2611786] and [b:Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe|27|Neither Here nor There Travels in Europe|Bill Bryson|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1156042888s/27.jpg|3164459]).

One thing that surprised me was that Bryson avoids discussing the sites around him. Was the trail breathtakingly beautiful, were there points that left him staring speechless? I am assuming not as he never bothers to mention anything. While I have experienced the 'eyes on the trail' focus of a hiker walking from one hut to the next, I also know that in a six hour day of hiking there was ample time to pause in awe of the surroundings.

While this book has some fabulous anecdotes, the type of which fill the travel journal of ever hiker in the world, which I could read again and again. It also draws on some interesting history surrounding the trail, including chilling murders. The book did not deliver enough of these interesting stories to keep me engaged for the duration of the book. Towards the end I began to wonder why he was bothering to write the book.
( )
  alsocass | Oct 12, 2013 |
This is a wonderful book to listen to while traveling with a group of people. It will keep you interested and laughing heartily all the way to your destination.

Bryson decided one day that it would be a neat thing to hike the Appalachian Trail – all 2,160 miles of it (although the actual length varies depending on the page you might be on in the official guides or what year it is, because the trail is constantly being changed and moved).

Deciding to do a little research, he soon discovered that there are certain dangers to walking the trail, including bears, assorted diseases, and “loony hillbillies destabilized by gross quantities
of impure corn liquor and generations of profoundly unbiblical sex.”

Henry Thoreau, that great 18-month adventurer into the wilds a short
walk from his town, helped create a great nostalgia for the woods, even though, as Bryson notes, he could “stroll to town for cakes and barley wine, but when he experienced real wilderness, on a visit to Katahdin in 1846, he was unnerved to the core.”

Bryson decided to take Stephen Katz along for the trip. Katz is a character who shows up in several of Bryson’s other books. He’s fat and
lazy --he throws away their water supply to make his pack lighter-- and soon Bryson discovers that this may not be the little walk in the
woods he had expected. After several weeks on the trail, in rather miserable weather, they arrive in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. There, he finds a map of the entire trail, about six inches wide and four feet long, and discovers to his horror that he and Katz have only traveled two inches on the map. “My hair had grown more than that,” he reports.

Even though it’s a very funny book, Bryson makes several serious observations, discussing the mismanagement of the U.S. Forest Service, an agency that builds more roads than any construction company; it supervises and has built more than 378,000 miles of roads, more than eight times the total mileage of the interstate highway system. Most of
these are to service the needs of logging companies that need to get in to chop down more trees. Bryson also discusses the American ambivalence toward nature. We revere it, but are afraid of it as well. The woods are beautiful, but they “choke off views and leave you
muddled and without bearings. They make you feel small and confused and vulnerable, like a small child lost in a crowd of strange legs.”

A lot of wilderness still exists in the United States, as he discovers on a section of totally uninhabited wilderness the trail traverses in Maine (he decided to do short sections of the trail after his epiphany in Gatlinburg).

This week-long march leaves the hikers completely on their own and is nowhere near any kind of help should one get into trouble (the AT kills several people yearly). There’s still a lot of nature out there; only 2 percent of the United States is classified as built up and 15,600,000 square miles are completely wooded, without a single resident, and remain impressive despite our mismanagement of the ecology and massive logging.

Bryson ended up walking a total of 870 miles of the trail – not an inconsequential feat. Of the two thousand or so who make the attempt
every year, only about two hundred finish. ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
Showing 1-25 of 279 (next | show all)

Quick Links

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (4.01)
0.5 3
1 18
1.5 11
2 98
2.5 24
3 545
3.5 194
4 1366
4.5 155
5 921

Audible.com

Three editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

See editions

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

» Publisher information page

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 92,668,946 books! | Top bar: Always visible