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A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail (Official Guides to the Appalachian Trail)
Stock image - cover art may vary
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 0767902521
ISBN-13: 9780767902526
Publisher: Broadway Books
Release Date: May, 1999
Length: 276 Pages
Weight: 9.6 ounces
Dimensions: 7.9 X 4.9 X 0.9 inches
Language: English

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail (Official Guides to the Appalachian Trail)

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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, suc...
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Customer Reviews

  You will LOVE this book!

Fair Warning -- do not read this book while commuting - you will be laughing so uncontrolably you will risk being committed by your fellow commuters. I have loaned this book to 3 friends - in each case, the spouse was so intrigued by the constant belly laughs that they also read the book before returning it. One friend bought copies for Christmas presents. The appeal is that universal. I dare say even those with no interest in backpacking or the Appalachian Trail would find the book highly entertaining.
  Hiking for the Common Man

I have read this book, and most of the reviews associated with it. Bryson does a very good job of relating his experiences while hiking portions of the Appalachian Trail. From the start, I was laughing out loud and imagining myself there along for the hike. Bill Bryson, and his hiking partner Stephen Katz are more like the average office worker that gets a crazy idea to go do something crazy! They set off to make a 2200 mile hike when they know virtually nothing about it. Bill uses a lot of dry humor that makes the book very easy and enjoyable reading. It is not a book to learn the correct ways of hiking, but it certainly relates to those of us that might try to do something just because we think we want to. I highly recommend reading the book, if for nothing more than the humor.

As for the negative reviews that I have read, most of them deal with Bryson's lack of instructional details, or the descriptions of the southern mountain people. I personally did not buy the book for it to read like stereo instructions. I did not expect it to tell me how to hike the trail. As for the descriptions of the mountain folks of Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina, I grew up in these GA and I can assure you that there are quite a few "Deliverance" type left in the mountains. Probably the only fault in his descriptions, is that this should be said of all of the mountain areas along the trail. The areas are poverty regions and there are quite a few people starving there. But that is a book all to its own!


  More than a hiking narative.

This is much more than a travelogue of two neophyte hikers on the Appalachian Trail, and readers looking for a blow by blow account of the travails of Bill Bryson and his companion, Stephen Katz, will be disappointed. Hiking provides only a backdrop to a heartfelt discourse on the social condition of America, local history, the environment, and the complexities of friendship. The pretext for the book was Bryson's return to the United States after twenty years in Britain, and his interest in "rediscovering America" after such a lengthy absence.

The vast majority of the reviews of the book cite its hilarity (one reviewer called it "choke-on-your-coffee funny"), and indeed there are very many funny parts. However, the deeper I got into the book, I detected a strong shift in the author's sentiment from satire to deep introspection. His observations became more acute, more angry, and more individualized as his long hike constantly brings to his mind the fragile environment of the Trail, the insanity of bureacrats entrusted with the AT, and his own personal limitations.

This was my first encounter with Bill Bryson, and while I found him entertaining, a beautiful writer, and an astute observer, some readers will be put off my his sharp satiric wit. It is certain that he will offend somebody. A friend of mine, who also read the book, was very much upset by the fact that Bryson and Katz didn't hike all 2,200 miles of the Trail, and that somehow their "failure" should prevent the telling of the story. This is utter nonsense and just throws more manure onto the present dung heap that has accumulated from the participants involved in peak bagging, wilderness races, and experiential therapy groups.

Bryson and Katz at least tried to hike the entire AT, and they returned from their hike as changed men who learned many lessons about the wilderness and friendship. Towards the end of the book, the two men are talking about the hike. When Katz remarks that "we did it," Bryson reminds him that they didn't even see Mount Katahdin, much less climb it. Katz says, "Another mountain. How many do you need to see, Bryson?" I agree with Katz (and ultimately Bryson). They hiked the Appalachian Trail.

  I strongly recommend it to anyone

A Walk in the Woods is a travel memoir on the Appalachian Trail, one of America's greatest hiking routes. The author, Bill Bryson lived in England for 20 years and came back to the United States with the urge to go on a long hike. Stephen Katz, an old college friend, and a former alcoholic accompanies him. Both men are out of shape, and beginners at hiking, so it is a wonder how they can endure such hardships along the trail. They had to carry a pack that contained their tents, food, water, clothes and other items. Katz and other interesting characters provide the book with much comic relief to keep the reader involved. At some points in the book I was laughing out loud. Along the journey they meet many people including Mary Ellen a slow-minded woman who follows them around, and Beulah, a fat woman with a very angry husband. The commentary about the long, rich history of the Appalachian Trail brings insight on the wilderness that we hardly know about. It also speaks for the preservation of the forestry and animals that we take for granted in the city. After reading this book I have more appreciation of the wilderness, and an interest in going hiking myself. One downside of the book was that some points in the book the author expanded the book with knowledge that made it a little less interesting, then the actual story. But I liked how Bryson went back and forth to discuss his journey and the history, creating a balance of interests. This book will offer something to any type of reader because it is funny, and contains a lot of historical information, and is interesting enough to keep the reader to keep going. But for someone who wishes to go on a hike, this is not a how to guide. It is also not an amazing adventure of two men and the great outdoors. What this book has to offer is an entertaining journey of two regular guys, who decide to go on a hike along one of the most difficult trails in the United States. I am highly recommending this book, and it will truly leave the reader entertained.
  Laugh out loud funny!

Very seldom do I read anything that makes me laugh out loud. To do so more than once or twice in a single book almost never happens. With "Walk," I became almost hysterical over certain chapters - in an airport, no less, while waiting for my flight. People must have thought I was nuts! Anyway, this is the story of two middle-aged and out of shape men (Bryson and his buddy, Katz) who decide to hike the Appalachian Trail. The AT is the third longest nature trail in the US, stretching from Georgia to Maine, along some incredibly rough terrain. Not all of their journey is rustic, however, as they often take a break to spend a night in the closest little town off the trail to have a shower, sleep in a "real" bed, and wash the grime from their clothes. It is during one such trip to the laundromat that Katz has a rather interesting encounter with 300 lb. Beaulah, her extra-large-sized panties, and a washing machine. Aside from the comical adventures, Bryson also has a great deal to say about the AT itself, and in particular, how much the National Parks Service needs a giant kick in the pants to help preserve these Trails.