Title: A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
Author: Bill Bryson
Genre: Non-fiction: Memoir; Travel Nature
God only knows what possessed Bill Bryson, a reluctant adventurer if ever there was one, to undertake a gruelling hike along the world’s longest continuous footpath—The Appalachian Trail.
The 2,000-plus-mile trail winds through 14 states, stretching along the east coast of the United States, from Georgia to Maine. It snakes through some of the wildest and most spectacular landscapes in North America, as well as through some of its most poverty-stricken and primitive backwoods areas.
With his offbeat sensibility, his eye for the absurd, and his laugh-out-loud sense of humour, Bryson recounts his confrontations with nature at its most uncompromising over his five-month journey. (from Goodreads)
Thoughts: I read this book as part of a book club that I am in online. This book has been on my radar for a while and, as luck would have it, was a very appropriate read for me as in about 2 weeks I will be moving to a state with a long section of the Appalachian Trail which, after reading this book, I am very excited about.
Unfortunately, this book was a little disappointing. It wasn’t a bad book, it just wasn’t entirely what I had expected, or hoped. The book covers Bill Bryon, an out of shaped author in middle age, and his overweight friend from high school, Katz, as they struggle, and fail, the hike the entire Appalachian Trail.
This book definitely had its strong points: it was well written, funny in some places, and engaging. My problem was that the information that Bryson spent most of his time talking about wasn’t really what I was interested in. I would have much preferred to have read less about the towns that Bryson stayed in along the trail, the people he met at campsites, and the hamburgers and coke he consumed when he had the opportunity, and read more about the actual hiking of the trail- the landscape, animals, weather, what it was like actually hiking the trail day in and day out. For a book about hiking the Appalachian Trail, there was very little about actually hiking the Appalachian Trail. However, I did love the history of the trail he gave us and all the little weird facts about animals and events that live/happened on the trail. I wanted more! And that there was my real problem: Bryson really got me intrigued/engaged in regards to certain information and then stopped and went on to other subjects that were nowhere near as interesting.
I was also disappointed that Bryson didn’t manage to hike the whole trail- or rather, not that he didn’t hike the entire trail but the way that he decided that it would be impossible to hike the whole trail so why even bother trying. I would have liked for him to at least to driven to Mount Katahdin at the end of the trail but he didn’t even do that! It felt like a cop-out to me. I was especially mad at the way he got me all excited about the Great Smoky Mountains in telling me about how diverse and unique an ecosystem it is only to have him give up and take a taxi to Virginia!
While I can only give this book a lukewarm recommendation, it did get me excited about moving closer to trail and doing a day hike myself. It also made me want to read more hiking-like memoirs about people living/walking in the great outdoors, like Wild by Cheryl Strayed, so it wasn’t all a loss!