I'm a backpacker; the kind of person who packs up a pack with a tent and food and disappears for long periods of time in the woods on marked trails. When not in the woods, I'm frequently on a backpacking discussion forum. From time to time, Bryson's name comes up as the ultimate definition of "not a backpacker". When this happens, half of the posters defend him, stating that even though he did not hike the entire Appalachian Trail, his text is inspiring enough that it has led others to the trail. The other half of the posters call him a sniveler and a whiner.
I had to see for myself, so I ordered a copy of his book. Okay, so Bryson is not a trail legend like Jack Tarlin or Minnesota Smith (the latter being someone who is known to overpack toilet paper to the tune of six rolls for a week long hike). But while Bryson cannot contribute an expert's account of a difficult sport, he can provide a humorous tale of two average folks who are ill equipped for the rigors of backpacking. Furthermore, he does it while incorporating a good deal of interesting trail history.
So to those who would quibble about whether the mileage Bryson has logged qualifies him to write a book, I say: "Put down your argument and pick up this book!"
Karin H. (AuntieK) reviewed A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail on
Helpful Score: 20
We read this book aloud to each other on a long car trip, and what a great choice it was! It lent itself well to being shared, and was incredibly funny. Mr Bryson provides a delicious account his personal trip on the Appalachian Trail, adding information about the history of the Appalachian Trail, some of the flora and fauna, and some information about the National Parks Service, of which he most definitely has an opinion. Don't let the information bits put you off reading the book; you need the breaks from laughing.
Elizabeth L. (LibbyLee) reviewed A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail on
Helpful Score: 4
Bought this for my husband. (He enjoys hiking & backpacking but mostly gets to sit in office.)
T there were many times, while reading this book, hat he laughed out loud, saying "You have to hear this!"
He could not put it down. I never heard him talk to friends about a book with such positive comments. He has a list of people he will be sharing this book with.
I liked this book so much! When my friend gave it to me and basically said "It's about a guy who hikes the long trail", I thought - "not so much." But believe me, he writes so candidly I was literally laughing out loud at some parts. It's a very easy, enjoyable read - trust me, you'll like it.
Carole D. (Sunscapes) reviewed A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail on
Helpful Score: 4
When you are reading any of Bill Bryson's books you want to share it with someone. He has the ability to take the mundane ( or extraordinary ) and with his prose and sense of humor take it to a level of enjoyment where you laugh out loud. A Walk in The Woods was wonderful and an unexpected story of two unlikely pals bonding in an experience. It didn't make me want to walk the Appalachian Trail, it did make me hope I have the chance to meet Bill somewhere on a path someday.
I enjoyed reading this book. It was full of of information and facts that I would not have read about on my own. Bryson spends the time to tell of the history of the AT. I am sure he may have even inspired some people to think about maybe walking the trail someday :) I read this book because it was recommended as a humorous book. Though, I did find myself laughing out loud ever, I did smile quite a bit..esp the parts that really showed Katz' personality. Some people might be offended by the way he talks about things he doesn't like. People from PA, don't expect a glowing review, lol. Though, he makes up for this with his facts and history parts that he includes throughout the book. I am glad that I read this one.
Marci S. (MarciNYC) reviewed A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail on
Helpful Score: 3
This is the first book I read that caused me to laugh out loud numerous times -- and garner a few strange looks on the subway to boot! I love Bryson's humour and this tale of two out of shape middle aged men attempting to hike the Appalachian Trail is a laughfest.
I just finished reading this book a few weeks ago after returning from a trip to the Smokies. I loved this book because it made me feel like I was back in the mountains. It was very funny and very informative about what life can be like on the Appalachian Trail. It made me want to at least hike part of the trail myself :)
An irreverent tale of trying to thru-hike the trail when you're out of shape, not a hiker, and paired with a recovering (sorta) alcoholic overweight junk-food loving buddy from out west. Makes you think seriously about thru-hiking if you're over 40.
This is a hilarious account of the author's attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail with his less-than-in-shape buddy. It's even funnier because it really happened, and maybe even better because neither of these guys are super hikers. Is that why I could identify with them?
Being a hiker, and always wondering if I could handle a thru hike of the AT, this book was a welcome read. I have read other chronicles of hiker adventures on the AT but could never really relate to them. I have a feeling this story would be much closer to what I would encounter.
Bryson is one of those people that you aren't sure you want to meet, or hang aroung with, but you can relate to his point of view. The book had plenty of details about areas of the trail and the experience but always told with a bit of humor. There was also a good deal of historical information about the trail and the areas it crosses.
I picked up this book because I have always wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail. How could I have known it would be among the funniest and most entertaining books I have read in years. In taking on the trail, Bryson looks for help from an old high school buddy who is even in worse shape than he is. Neither is prepared for the rigors of trail life and their misadventures are laugh-out-loud hysterical. Even if you never want to hike a part of the cross country trail, this is a fun read with loads of belly laughs to keep you turning the pages.
I have lived near the south end of the Appalachian Trail all my life, and never really knew much about it. Bill Bryson has richly combined humor, history,character sketches and just great story telling in the humorous book. Once I started it I couldn't put it down. A really great read for anyone!
Rebecca in Alabama
I have hiked the entire AT (it took me 15 years!), and in general, I was disappointed in Bryson's book. It is good for a laugh, but it does not truly convey the AT trail experience, especially the wonderful people that I met during my hikes.
This was one of Byson's best in my opinion. His wit and sarcasm make this hike a fabulous adventure. I went to see part of the trail shortly after reading the book and it was just as described. Laughed out lound many times.
The first half of the book was laugh-out-loud funny. Definitely worth the read for that section. The second half wanders a bit into the time AFTER their Appalachian Trail hike together, and that is a little less entertaining. But overall, a good read.
Loved this book. As a former East coaster living in So Cal, the descriptions brought back a lot of great memories. The author has an interesting perspective and I was laughing out loud at some of his comments.
A sometimes hilarious, always entertaining read about one man's journey on the Appalachian Trail. Bill Bryson, an Iowa native, returns to America after living in Britain for 20 years working for the Times and the Independent. He decides to get back in touch with his native country by hiking the 2100 mile Appalachian Trail. His journey gives glimpses into the silliness of other human beings. He invites his friend Stephen Katz, also from Iowa, along for the walk. Katz accepts, although is horribly out of shape, and this leads to some hilarity. While settling into their hiking stride, they meet a whole cast of other interesting people...definitely a terrific read for anyone who enjoys the outdoors or is planning on hiking the AT themselves.
I was hoping to read an adventure on the Appalachian Trail and through hiking this trail is on my bucket list. Instead this book is more about the ramblings of an articulate author on the history of how small town America has changed into something the author somewhat despises. He sees a romantic version of America from the time when the Appalachian Trail was formed as a much superior time in history than what we've become, according to him. A bit disappointing for me but some interesting ramblings occasionally.
So you start reading this book ecpecting the writer to make the long hike and journey but... The book started slow for me and I found myself setting it down only to pick it back up a week latter to see if I could get back into it. Although I found the book well written, I was left disappointed. I really wanted to like the book if for the only reason the writer is from my home of Iowa. I was able to like the parts when he stuck to the trail with his side kick and made an effort to really hike. I know even as I write this Bryson has done something I will most likely never do, hike parts of the great trail. The book did give me a better understanding of how long and difficult the trail really is and for that I give Bryson 3 stars.
An adventure tale, loaded with humor and history. You will find yourself chuckling a lot. You will also say to yourself, "Wow, I didn't know that" frequently. If you have ever wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail, this will either discourage you or make you want to get started as soon as possible.
Rita G. reviewed A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail on
Helpful Score: 1
This book is like taking a walk through the woods. It can be a short walk of 5 miles, or you can walk the entire Appalachian Tail with Bill Bryson. either way, it's a wonderful outdoors experience in your arm chair.
If you like Dave Barry, much the same genre. And it you like to hike, it makes the book all the much funnier. Do you know how to react when encountering a black bear? What if it's a brown bear? Can you get close enough to tell the difference?
Terri B. (tlbrady44) - , reviewed A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail on
Helpful Score: 1
This is only the second book I have ever read that I laugh out loud during the day thinking about what I read the night before. I used to hike all the time and everything he talks about has happened to me so I can relate well. Even if you never hiked at all this is a really funny book! Thanks Bill Bryson for taking the time to write this.
Bruson hike 870 miles of the 2000 plus miles of Applachian Trail and tells us all out it. A native's look at the last American wilderness. Laugh out loud funny at times; poignant at others. Brysondoes an admirable job of describing the Trail while making a muted plea for better conservation methods. He gently implores us to save this land.'I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.
I really enjoyed this book. I grew up near the Appalachian Trail and have only done an extremely small portion of it. Bill's writing style is very easy to follow and he makes it so much fun! You will love his hiking buddy. The bear eyes is so funny to read about. I thoroughly enjoyed this and just ordered another of his books.
Prior to reading A Walk in the Woods, I had only read one book by Bill Bryson. Thunderbolt Kid was hysterically funny about growing up male in the 1950's in the Midwest. I laughed as I turned each page. Walk in the Woods is unique - still Bill Bryson's humor which makes one laugh aloud especially when describing people or events as he travels along the Appalachian Trail. What is memorable about this read however, is what is learned...about the trail, about human nature, about relationships, and yes, even geography and geology. I won't forget this book!
Good read. I took it more as a personal journal vs a "how to" make the difficult journey. Bryson makes it clear that he was not in the best of shape to conquer the trek. Notable is how he continued the journey after several hiatus' solo and with company. Some reviews I read on this site seemed miffed that he didn't take the arduous hike as seriously as they did. However, everyone's adventure can be done for various reasons and outcomes.
Bryson and his hiking buddy Katz take on a healthy chunk of the Appalachian Trail and survive to tell the tale! A funny, insightful story about the human drama of experiencing the "AT," a seemingly endless trail of over 2,000 miles of the toughest trail anybody could ever love...and hate...and love...and loath. A very fun read but dang, no bears! :(
I really enjoyed this book. As a camper and hiker (not anything like Bryson, however), a journey on the Appalachian Trail intrigued me. Bryson is a great storyteller, and I found myself laughing aloud at some of the characters he meets along the trail and the strange situations he encounters. His traveling companion is a book in himself. The only drawback to the book for me was that Bryson sometimes gets on his soapbox about environmental issues, which while completely worthy of discussion, sometimes detracted from the story for me. I still give it 4 stars and have recommended it to several people. This book led me to read Wild by Cheryl Strayed about her journey on the Pacific Crest Trail.
I've read this book multiple times, and find myself falling in love with the Appilacian Trail more and more each time. Bryson's wit and insights into history pertaining to the trail keep me hooked, even when the book drags a little.
I thoroughly enjoyed A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. I also read In a Sunburned Country. Bryson is not only informative about so many little details but does it with great wit and humor. He is a funny man and I hope to read all his books.
If you want to know what it's like to hike the entire Appalachian Trail, but can't walk that far yourself, this is the book for you! The author gives a firsthand account of hiking from Georgia, thru N. Carolina (Great Smokey Nat'l Park), Virgina (Shenandoah Nat'l Park), W. Virginia (Harper's Ferry), Pennsylvania (Delaware Water Gap), New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire (Mount Washington), & Maine. Journey with Bill Bryson for 2100 miles thru silent forests & past sparkling lakes. Bryson's humor & descriptions of silly characters he meet along the way, are superb.
As long as the author stayed within the story line of his hiking the book was good, funny, and easy to read.it is when he strays from this story-line and starts giving biological backgrounds on trees and diseases that the book becomes a chore to read. I did not get this book to have a Civil War history lesson in regards to Harper's Ferry or a history on various towns along the Pennsylvania trail. This is one time where I can truthfully say "See the movie, ignore the book"
I could care less about hiking but love Bill Bryson's writing so I picked this one up and loved it. I laughed out loud numerous times and like all his other books couldn't put it down. It's a comedic adventure with two very out of shape men, Bryson and the lovable Katz walking the Appalachian Trail. Coffee shot through my nose a few times, it was THAT funny!
Is this guy for real? YES. And that's what makes this book so good. How does anyone go backpacking only half prepared and know so little of real life on the trail. This was a 2000, mile trail. Who does that? Apparently Mr Bryson did. These two were side splitingly funny sometimes. A great novel about life among the wild. I loved it.
Bill Bryson once again takes us on an amazing and educational adventure into the American Heartland by way of the Appalachian Trail. Setting off into the wilderness with old friend Stephen Katz, an old friend we first met in Neither Here Nor There, an earlier tome.
Throughout his adventure on the AT Bryson not only discovers that hes more out of shape than he thought, but at the same time more adventurous. Throughout his self-realizations he also gives the reader glimpses into history and ecology about the AT and the areas surrounding it. With humor and honesty, Bryson takes us for a walk through amazing country and reminds us of the true things that really do make America great.
Over my many reads of Bryson, I was looking forward to this one the most. I have slowly discovered that a few funny moments does not a good book make.
Unlike what I first thought when I picked up the book, Bryson and Katz to NOT walk the entire AT. That in and of itself was a disappointment. Halfway through, (the book, not the AT) Bryson and Katz decide to take some time off and go their separate ways for several months then meet up at the opposite end of the trail. I was expecting to get a book about the entire trail, in fact they skipped most of it.
In addition, Bryson made a few generalizations that I disagreed with. He slammed the park system first of all. He only used the park system and their services for several months and then goes on in his book to say how terrible they are. Instead of complaining about them why doesnt he give them some of the money the park system so desperately needs?
He also makes a statement that moose are not dangerous. This is garbage. The moose HE came across might not have been dangerous, but after traveling in Alaska I can definitely say that moose are unpredictable and can even be vicious to a point. They are known to charge at random and there are laws that are in place not to protect the moose, but the people near the moose.
Anyways, I do think that this might be the last of my Bryson books. Hes disappointed me for the final time. I like his humor and his take on interesting situations, but really, I expected more out of him this time.
Of all Bryson's books, this is my favorite.
Not only will you roar over his experiences, but you will also learn so much about the Apalachian Trail.
I have read all his books but this is one that I will read again.
This is a truly wonderful book. Bill Bryson and a friend attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail, which goes from Georgia to Maine. They have all sorts of adventures, which are often hilarious. Bill Bryson also makes some interesting observations on life. I loved this book!!!
Funny book. The author's hiking partner, Katz, was a hoot and provided a lot of comic relief. I got a little bored with the book whenever the author left the trail and gave commentary on the surrounding areas (I was more interested in life on the actual trail itself), but I did read it to the end and overall enjoyed it very much.
My husband began reading this book and was thoroughly enjoing it, until a lady we met on on our honeymoon spoiled the ending. He didn't see much point in finishing it after that. He really liked what he did read. Very funny.
A little odd. Very interesting, but not what I expected. I was expecting a narrative of walking the Appalachian Trail in a single trip. Bryson walks some serious chunks of it, but it wasn't the whole trip that I was expecting.
Back in America after 20 yrs in Britain, Bill Bryson decided to reaquaint himself with his native country by walking the 2,100 mile Appalachian trail. He takes his buddy, Stephen Katz along who has an overwhelming desire to find cozy restraunts. Humm. Along the way they meet some very interesting people as you can imagine. You have toread it to find out the rest. If you love the great outdoors, this is a read for you.
Bill Bryson has made a living out of traveling and then writing about it. In The Lost Continent he re-created the road trips of his childhood; in Neither Here nor There he retraced the route he followed as a young backpacker traversing Europe. When this American transplant to Britain decided to return home, he made a farewell walking tour of the British countryside and produced Notes from a Small Island. Once back on American soil and safely settled in New Hampshire, Bryson once again hears the siren call of the open road--only this time it's a trail. The Appalachian Trail, to be exact. In A Walk in the Woods Bill Bryson tackles what is, for him, an entirely new subject: the American wilderness. Accompanied only by his old college buddy Stephen Katz, Bryson starts out one March morning in north Georgia, intending to walk the entire 2,100 miles to trail's end atop Maine's Mount Katahdin.
If nothing else, A Walk in the Woods is proof positive that the journey is the destination. As Bryson and Katz haul their out-of-shape, middle-aged butts over hill and dale, the reader is treated to both a very funny personal memoir and a delightful chronicle of the trail, the people who created it, and the places it passes through. Whether you plan to make a trip like this one yourself one day or only care to read about it, A Walk in the Woods is a great way to spend an afternoon. --Alix Wilber
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.
A wonderful and funny book from one of my favorite authors.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's been described as "laugh out loud" funny. That is a very accurate description. I read it on an overnight flight and embarrassed myself. I couldn't stop laughing. I had tears in my eyes... I've recommended this for years.
Nancy L. (knancy) reviewed A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail on
I enjoyed the book. It was a light read. It was more about "does a bear **** in the woods" than a spiritual read as I was expecting since that is more of my interest when walking in the woods. I recommend it to anyone who is a fan of the author or has hiked the southern part of the Appalachian Trail.
Great book, author has great wit. Having hiked and camped the Georgia portion of the AT this book made me want to go back. This is his view so some of you who have thru-hiked may not like it because he doesn't have your view of the trail.
Second half of the book does slow down a bit, but still a great read.
BIll Bryson. Was able to take me on a fascinating journey. A walk In The Woods is an adventurous, hilarious, fascinating trip along the Appalachian Trail. His comedic genius will keep you enthralled until the very end. Pick this book up and go for a hike with wonderful company in the form of Mr. Bryson you won't be sorry you went along on the entertaining trip.
A wonderful travelogue memoir. I laughed out-loud so many times. It's cheeky and full of historical information as well about the Appalachian trail. Great read. It's worth re-reading just for the joy of it.
All of Bill Bryson's books are GREAT! I just keep ordering as many as I can find. This is a very funny but interesting adventure on the Appalachian Trail. Our son and his girlfriend have walked about 70 miles of this trail and just called today to say they are off again.... Anytime you can read a Bill Bryson book do it.
From the Publisher
For reasons even he didn't understand, Bill Bryson decided in 1996 to walk the 2,100-mile Appalachian trail. Winding from Georgia to Maine, this uninterrupted 'hiker's highway' sweeps through the heart of some of America's most beautiful and treacherous terrain. Accompanied by his infamous crony, Stephen Katz, Bryson risks snake bite and hantavirus to trudge up unforgiving mountains, plod through swollen rivers, and yearn for cream sodas and hot showers. This amusingly ill-conceived adventure brings Bryson to the height of his comic powers, but his acute eye also observes an astonishing landscape of silent forests, sparkling lakes, and other national treasures that are often ignored or endangered. Fresh, illuminating, and uproariously funny, A Walk in the Woods showcases Bill Bryson at his very best.
Let me begin with how disappointed I am with this book. I didn't read it all. As a matter of fact, I got as far as the trip through the Great Smoky Mountains. At that point I was so angry with Mr. Bryson that I put the book down and swore to never read another word written by him. It was terrible the way he made fun of the small towns and people. The last straw was his comments on the Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge TN. I am from that area and I am deeply offended!!!!!! On a scale of 1 to 10 I give this book a -10