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. If Bryson has any passion or personal involvement with the AT, it doesn't show. He tells very little of the day to day experience of hiking the trail, and prefers to focus on comic interludes, mostly involving his eccentric alcoholic hiking partner, other trail characters, and his own general unpreparedness for wilderness travel. Yes, you can go out into the woods without the proper knowledge and equipment and come home with a story of hardships and danger, but that doesn't make it a good story. Self-endangerment is not high drama, it's irresponsible. The rest of the story is mostly made up of history bytes about the trail and some general natural history. You can get all that from Wikipedia without buying this book.
It doesn't help that I read this not long after reading Cheryl Strayed's "Wild," which is a far more gripping tale combining a deeply personal journey with descriptions of the Pacific Crest Trail that make you feel like you're there. If you want to know what a long hike is really like, read Wild instead.