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

Bill Bryson
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (658 customer reviews)

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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, such as one of the innumerable reasons he longed to walk as many of the 2,100 miles of the Appalachian Trail as he could. "It would get me fit after years of waddlesome sloth" is delivered with glorious deadpan flair. By the time our storyteller recounts his trip to the Dartmouth Co-op, suffering serious sticker shock over equipment prices, you'll be hooked.

When Bryson speaks for the many Americans he encounters along the way--in various shops, restaurants, airports, and along the trail--he launches into his American accent, which is whiny and full of hard r's. And his southern intonations are a hoot. He's even got a special voice used exclusively when speaking for his somewhat surprising trail partner, Katz. In the 25 years since their school days together, Katz has put on quite a bit of weight. In fact, "he brought to mind Orson Welles after a very bad night. He was limping a little and breathing harder than one ought to after a walk of 20 yards." Katz often speaks in monosyllables, and Bryson brings his limited vocabulary humorously to life. One of Katz's more memorable utterings is "flung," as in flung most of his provisions over the cliff because they were too heavy to carry any farther.

The author has thoroughly researched the history and the making of the Appalachian Trail. Bryson describes the destruction of many parts of the forest and warns of the continuing perils (both natural and man-made) the Trail faces. He speaks of the natural beauty and splendor as he and Katz pass through, and he recalls clearly the serious dangers the two face during their time together on the trail. So, A Walk in the Woods is not simply an out-of-shape, middle-aged man's desire to prove that he can still accomplish a major physical task; it's also a plea for the conservation of America's last wilderness. Bryson's telling is a knee-slapping, laugh-out-loud funny trek through the woods, with a touch of science and history thrown in for good measure. (Running time: 360 minutes, four cassettes) --Colleen Preston

From Publishers Weekly

Returning to the U.S. after 20 years in England, Iowa native Bryson decided to reconnect with his mother country by hiking the length of the 2100-mile Appalachian Trail. Awed by merely the camping section of his local sporting goods store, he nevertheless plunges into the wilderness and emerges with a consistently comical account of a neophyte woodsman learning hard lessons about self-reliance. Bryson (The Lost Continent) carries himself in an irresistibly bewildered manner, accepting each new calamity with wonder and hilarity. He reviews the characters of the AT (as the trail is called), from a pack of incompetent Boy Scouts to a perpetually lost geezer named Chicken John. Most amusing is his cranky, crude and inestimable companion, Katz, a reformed substance abuser who once had single-handedly "become, in effect, Iowa's drug culture." The uneasy but always entertaining relationship between Bryson and Katz keeps their walk interesting, even during the flat stretches. Bryson completes the trail as planned, and he records the misadventure with insight and elegance. He is a popular author in Britain and his impeccably graceful and witty style deserves a large American audience as well.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1917 KB
  • Print Length: 305 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (Sept. 8 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000S1LSAM
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (658 customer reviews)
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Customer Reviews

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All quiet on the Appalachian Trail Nov. 30 2006
By bernie TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This book was written in the style of John McPhee and even quoting him once in a while. It includes facts and people like "The Perfect Storm." Then Bill Bryson adds first hand personal experiences. You can identify with his comments that do not have to be funny to be familiar.

This book recounts Bill Bryson's experiences on the Appalachian Trail. The dry facts can be picked up through other material. However the personal experiences are just that, personal. If you have never been hiking then you still get a feel for what you have missed. However if you have hiked then you can really appreciate the people he met, and circumstances that he went through. There are hikers and then there are hikers. In the Boy Scouts you are usually in a well-organized group, in the military you have to be more cautious of objects and terrain, Sierra Club and Outward Bound have their unique points of view. So if his experience is different, it still makes for fun reading.

I even liked the sections on selecting and using the equipment. I am afraid if I had met Bill Bryson on the trail; I would have been one of those "equipment comparing" people.

Anyway do not expect an epic and you will enjoy the time you spend reading this book. Oh, and it does make me want to go hiking.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, but not what you expect... Nov. 20 2002
By cahhmc
This book is not a guidebook. Nor is it an instructional book. If you hiked the AT and want to re-live memories, you probably won't like this book. If you want to see another perspective on backpacking, you won't learn a thing from this book. If you're looking for just a really funny book, this one will let you down after chapter 5. All in all, its not the book you think it is, or at least, it was not what I thought it was.
But, if you love the outdoors, if current threats to wilderness get you up in arms, and if you've ever had a *bad* experience with food, getting lost, or your partner being annoying, you may like this book as much as I did -- which was an extraordinary and suprised amount. It is not always funny, not always historical, and not always a sheer and grand disgrace to the art of backpacking. But I enjoyed the mix so much that after I read it, I took it with me and read it aloud to my hiking partners over the 90 miles of the Wonderland trail. Go figure.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Notes from a Small Hiking Trip Aug. 21 2003
Format:Audio CD
Fans of Bill Bryson familiar with his style and wit will not be disappointed with this effort. "A Walk in the Woods" is a great book (really two books), and Bryson does a good job intertwining them both.
The first "book" is Bryson's recounting of his decision to hike the Appalachian Trail, or AT, and the many adventures and misadventures that journey provided. The highlight of this part of the book has to be his interaction with childhood friend Steven Katz, his hiking companion. Katz brought a hilarious "funny man" personality to Bryson's "straight man." From the moment he steps off the plane to the end of the book, Katz brings much comic relief.
And that was needed, because the second "book" Bryson provides is a history of the AT itself, along with stories about different points along the AT. While informative, these sections of the book definitely lack the same appeal as those that include hiking companion Katz. Indeed, for a section of the book Bryson and Katz go their separate ways, and it seemed the story lost a bit of steam. It was a welcome relief when Katz reappeared further on...
As is typical with Bryson, he manages to intersperse periods of sobering thought along with the large doses of humor. Including are scathing criticisms of the National Park Service, for its numerous instances of environmental mismanagement, and of the behavior and mindset of our own citizens in decades past (e.g., the state of West Virginia used to offer a college scholarship to whomever killed the most wildlife in a season). Brilliant ideas like that led to the extinction of several species, like the mountain lion and the Carolina Parakeet.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's not about the woods Oct. 18 2004
By Challey
This book reminded me of others that attempt the same sort of thing. You know, books that have a certain title but that's not what they're REALLY about? Remember ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE? Or how 'bout THE BARK OF THE DOGWOOD--A Tour of Southern Homes and Gardens? Neither book is REALLY about those things. But in the same vein, Bryson's is, on some level, a walk in the woods: it's just the things that happen "around" that which are more interesting. I found this book to be absolutely hilarious in places and liked it MUCH better than his latest one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for those who have experienced the AT. Jan. 3 2004
Some 22 years ago, as a recent high school graduate, I and a few of my classmates hiked a portion of the Appalachian Trail for the first time. It was one of the best experiences of my life and Bill Bryson has allowed me to relive my youth. I am at that tenuous age (do the math) looking for that "City Slicker" adventure and just might consider embarking once again on the AT.
Before I do though, I am going to stock-up on other Bill Bryson titles.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Fun Story June 16 2003
Format:Audio CD
Bill Bryson, writer and American expat of twenty years, takes on a challenge that I have only thought about--hiking the Appalachian Trail. Sure we have all thought about such adventures--hiking the Appalachian or Pacific Crest Trails, cycling the remains of Route 66, or paddling a wilderness stream for weeks--but Bryson actually does it. And along the way, we are introduced to some very interesting characters.
First is Katz, an old college buddy who spent time in Europe with Bryson and has since sampled most vices (legal and otherwise) and fallen completely out of shape. The man is addicted to Little Debby snack cakes and, as you might imagine, faces many challenges along the way. Next was Mary Ellen, a reportedly overweight college student from Florida who reveals her lack of self-esteem through constant criticism of everyone else. And of course, we cannot forget the cast of other hikers, boy scouts, yuppie campers in designer outfits, and miscellaneous wildlife.
What makes this story entertaining is that both Bryson and Katz are rather improbable AT hikers. They are improbable both because of their age and their lack of experience with serious outdoor sport. But a healthy dose of optimism and honesty, while reporting both the duo's adventures and Bryson's thoughts, make this an engaging story that I suspect many readers will relate to. We can, either through or own experiences or imagination, relate to worrying thoughts about those eyes in the woods that continue looking at us through the darkness. The animal sounded big as it walked by, but was it a bear? Maybe it was a bear or maybe it isn't. We never really know and have the pleasure of continuing to wonder.
Finally, Bryson also includes some commentary along the way.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely loved this book
Absolutely loved this book. Bill Bryson is a remarkable story teller. Highly recommended!!! That being said, I still don't think I'll spend 4 straight months hiking the... Read more
Published 1 month ago by John
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Good read. I read this book after reading 1927 which I loved. I will knock off all of Bryson's having just discovered him
Published 3 months ago by Terence Scullion
5.0 out of 5 stars memories of times past
Several decades ago I met a wonderful young lady from Maine and we hiked the AT near Katahdin Iron Works and Mt. Katahdin on many occasions. Read more
Published 8 months ago by L. DEAN STETSON
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
good reading.very well done as are all his books should be a must read fro anybody with a sense of adventure
Published 8 months ago by George H Paterson
5.0 out of 5 stars My boyfriend love it
I gave it to my boyfriend for his birthday and he laughed a lot throughout the reading. Didn't even had to ask if he liked it. :D
Published 9 months ago by Felipe Pereira da Silva
3.0 out of 5 stars Long Book
I have not quite finished it. I got tired of reading it but will finish is at some point. I enjoyed the humourous parts and also found the history parts quite interesting.
Published 12 months ago by sandra swaffield
5.0 out of 5 stars Great vacation read
As we travelled to another hiking area, the adirondacks, I purchased this book. We have hiked one small portion of the Appalachians, and bill mentions sunfish lake specifically.
Published 14 months ago by Sheila Goldsworthy
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful read
Bryson is magic - don't read in a public place or before sleep it will have you giggling out loud
Published 18 months ago by Beryl Harrington
2.0 out of 5 stars Tame
After seeing so many rave reviews about this book I was quite disappointed to find how tame it was. It reads like it was written on assignment, just to pay the bills. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Island Bookworm
1.0 out of 5 stars Where is it????
Did not get it! I would like to have it!Cant rate it if I cant read it!Please get it for me
Published 21 months ago by Dagmar Mc Nichol
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