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

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

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Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nature writing and a travelogue with "oomph"! Aug. 26 2007
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Perhaps it was a fit of angst dealing with his own personal version of a mid-life crisis that led Bill Bryson to tackle the challenge of hiking the 2,100 mile Appalachian Trail! It was certainly a solid understanding of his own personality and clear recognition of his own physical and mental limitations that prompted him to invite his friend, Stephen Katz, an overweight and out of shape recovering alcoholic with an inordinate fondness for snack foods and cream soda to accompany him on this daunting challenge. The demands of the AT ultimately proved too much for Bryson and Katz who sensibly (and with an almost relieved sense of philosophical acceptance) decided to abandon the notion of a complete through hike. But the resulting story, drawn from Bryson's daily journal of the summer's efforts, is an overwhelming success and pure joy in the reading.

"A Walk in the Woods" is an extraordinary, entertaining travelogue on both the AT - the Appalachian Trail - and the people and places of small town America that dot the trail's path along the eastern seaboard from Georgia to Maine. At the same time, it is much, much more. Bryson is scathing in his political commentary and almost enraged criticism of the ongoing state of mismanagement and the sadly misguided policies of both the Parks and Forest Services of the US government. "A Walk in the Woods" is also a deeply moving introspective examination on the nature of friendship, family, perseverance, joy and despondency.
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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 100 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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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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