Title: A Walk in the Woods
Author: Bill Bryson
Published: 1998; Pages: 374
Genre: Narrative Nonfiction/Memoir
In Short: Author Bill Bryson embarks on a backpacking/hiking through along the Appalachian Trail beginning in Georgia and ending in Maine.
Why I Read it: I picked this one up a few years ago based on blogger recommendation to read Bill Bryson. It just happened to be the first Bryson book I came across at Half Price Books. I suggested it for my work book club this month as something funnier than what we have been reading.
Thoughts in General: I’ll be honest. I had never heard of The Appalachian Trail before I read Wild by Cheryl Strayed last year (I had never heard of the Pacific Crest Trail either). I enjoy outdoorsy things and have been camping in a tent a handful of tents, but I did not grow up with the outdoors. However, I am fascinated with the idea of strapping a pack onto my back and wandering off into the woods. I don’t know that I’d ever really have the guts to do this, but I did put it on my bucket list. I just have to convince Scott that this sounds like a fun idea or condition my kiddos to eventually want to do this with me.
You didn’t really want to hear about the book did you? Oh, ok. A Walk in the Woods is part anecdotal and part informational. Bryson recounts his experiences on the trail and his tail is especially colorful when his pal Stephen Katz is hiking with him. In fact, these were my favorite parts of the book and I wish that more of the anecdotal was included rather than the informational. Bryson and Katz together are a sometimes a bunch of bumbling idiots and their play and interaction with each other is often laugh out loud funny.
In between the hiking stories, Bryson does what he does best and gives his reader lowdown on everything to know about the history of The Appalachian Trail, tidbits about the various environments from Georgia to Maine, facts and commentary on the towns along the way, and much much more. I’ve only read one other Bryson book (At Home) but I am loving how his books are a smorgasbord of intellectual nuggets–the types of things that make you want to nudge the person next to you and say “Hey, listen to this!” While I liked and appreciated these parts of the books, I wanted more of the anecdotal and found myself enjoying the book more when Bryson was actually walking.
Bottom Line: A Walk in the Woods came highly recommended to me and because of this I strongly suggested it to my book club (we draw our picks so it was actually luck of the draw). I felt a little bit let down because I wanted this book to be hilarious. It’s always a bummer when you expect one thing and are delivered another. No fault of the book and I still enjoyed it and found it easy to pick up to read but I won’t lie that I was disappointed I didn’t get more chuckles from this one. I do recommend A Walk in the Woods, especially to adventurers and outdoors enthusiasts or really anyone who loves random information overload.
I didn’t listen to the audio on this one because Bryson only reads an abridged version–also a disappointment as I think this book would be great on audio (there is an unabridged version but I opted for paper since I already had the book). Also, have you heard that Robert Redford is slated to direct A Walk in the Woods?
Do you have a favorite Bill Bryson book? Would you be interested in a hiking/backpacking trip in the woods?