A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail (Unabridged)
by Bill Bryson
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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 entertaing 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).
Informative, honest, modest and true.
Solid read. I myself am an AT thru-hiker and this book exemplifies with utmost clarity the simplicities and turmoils of life on the trail. Very entertaining and packed with interesting history and scientific facts meshed in with the narrative. Worth the buy.
Do yourself a favor and buy the abridged audiobook. Unless, that is, you prefer half-chapters devoted to the 250 million year old geological history of the Appalachians, Civil War history, why the American Chestnut isn't around, why there aren't any songbirds on the AT, etc.
Further, if it weren't for Katz, this book would be unreadable. I hope Bryson gave a lot of the proceeds from the book to him, because without Katz, this would be a long journalism piece with no emotion or story involved.
Bryson is quite contradictory in his writing, which was very frustrating. In one chapter alone, he derides hikers with technology (GPS devices, cell phones, laptops) but later extols the virtue of Burger King's air conditioning while slurping a "bucket-sized" Coke! For all his complaining about trails, the National Park Service, and lack of conservationism, he doesn't offer any solutions. He didn't volunteer to update Pennsylvania's maps, and didn't joint a conservation group, or even go outside and plant a tree.
If you want a good account of a hiker's journey on a long trail, seek out Backpacker Magazine's "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" by Scott Williamson.
It seemed like Bryson didn't have enough of a "book" based on just his AT hiking experience and padded it with a ton of filler. He also comes across very misogynistic, with very few sympathetic/intelligent/important characters. If you've ever thought about hiking the AT, don't read this book, since through all his complaining you may be discouraged.
Fantastically written and inspiring.
There just enough detail here to convey the sense of scope, beauty, and impact of the journey without becoming tedious. The author's wry humor and historical insights move the book along nicely, yet provide a backdrop for conversations far beyond this work.I cannot recommend this book highly enough.