Walk in the Woods

Walk in the Woods

by Bill Bryson
Publisher: Broadway Books
Trade Paperback, 304 pages
Current Retail Price: $15.99
Not in stock

Few writers can make their personal experiences so universally interesting and relatable as Bill Bryson.

A Walk in the Woods is a chronicle of his hike with Stephen Katz along the Appalachian Trail and the bizzaro characters he met there. If anyone else was telling it, we'd wonder how much was exaggeration, but Bryson is so understated and warmly real that there's no option but to take his word for everything.

Even if there's some exaggeration it's okay, because it's so hilarious. Like the part where Bryson thinks there's a bear outside the tent and asks Katz if he has anything sharp and Katz offers him nail clippers. Or the time a guy in a uniform gives him a bad time for looking at a hill that happens to be on private property. Or the guy he meets who never makes it to the place he's going.

Of course, none of this is very funny unless Bryson is telling it. He writes with a clipped eloquence more in keeping with his 20-year English sojourn than his Midwestern origins, but the story he tells here is decidedly American.

It's also more than just a travel memoir. Bryson's roving intellect can't help but explore every angle, and there are passages inA Walk in the Woods about conservation efforts along the Appalachian Trail, his own reflections on nature, and lots of odds and ends about the trail and people on it that are fascinating for their own sake.

There's a long tradition of American philosophers developing their most profound ideas away from the chaos of civilization. Bryson isn't a philosopher in the technical sense, but he has many profound insights into the human race and its relationship to the wilderness that will ensure the place of his book in the future canon of American literature.

And then there's the fact that the best reason to readA Walk in the Woods is because it's hilarious and compelling. It's just a great book by a great author to be read for pleasure; if you come away from it a little wiser, all the better.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviews here.

 

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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Summary: Bill Bryson's hilarious memoir of attempting to hike the Appalachian Trail with a friend, with fascinating bits of trivia and profound reflections.

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