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On the Beaten Path: An Appalachian Pilgrimage
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On the Beaten Path: An Appalachian Pilgrimage

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  389 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
An eloquent, wise, and witty account of how one man's six-month, end-to-end hike of the Appalachian Trail led him back home.
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published March 1st 2000 by The Lyons Press (first published 2000)
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Gail Gray
Jun 16, 2012 Gail Gray rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished On the Beaten Path recently and have to say it's one of the most lyrical books on the AT experience I've ever read. I love Rubin's writing, as I should, since he was an editor before hitting the trail and made the journey after becoming disillusioned with his job, along with the difficulties editors face, which I know first hand. Slogging through lots of stories to find the gems and then once you do so, the pain of writing rejection letters, and even having to reject good writing simp ...more
Jul 09, 2015 Karson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Liked this one a ton. Much more than Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods. More honest and autobiographical. Also about this guy's inner journey on the path as much as the outer journey. He lost like 75 lbs on the trail too. I really liked this one.
Feb 13, 2015 Dawn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. Maybe even more then I loved Bryson's similar work "A Walk in the Woods." And I really loved that book when I read it many years ago. Rubin's book came out shortly after Bryson's and never got the acclaim. But his writing is lyrical (His trail name was the Rhyming Worm.) and thoughtful, sometimes funny, mostly not so much. Just really nice. I didn't want it to end.

But it did..and here's his take on why some people dream the big dream of walking the whole Appalachian Trail, wh
Shellys♥ Journal
Robert Rubin works at a publishing company in North Carolina. After struggling with his career for a number of years, he decides to quit his job and hike the Appalachian Trail. While it sounds like a reasonable idea, the fact that Rubin has a wife, dog and a mortgage muddies the water some. This is the story of his own personal struggles and how he seeks to work them out on the AT.

Having read 7 other memoirs of the Appalachian Trail, I still found this book a wonderful read. The writing is outst
Oct 15, 2009 Margaret rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found this book to be ...sort-of interesting, but not what I expected. I really don't know exactly how to describe it. Because it seems the author was struggling in his life when he began his hike - in his job, marriage, etc. - I guess I expected there to be more of his thought processes about those things, not lists of hikers he met along the way, their trail names, etc. I found it kind of depressing at times, particularly at the end. Rather than it coming across as this major accomplishment, ...more
Jun 29, 2015 Mom2atornado rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a beautifully written book and when I had time to read, I would find it hard to put down. I truly felt as if I was with the 'rhyming worm' on his hike. I found myself ear-marking pages that had wonderful statements that I wanted to come back and read again. Thank you to Robert Rubin for including us in his adventure. "The lesson that the Appalachian Trail teaches is that one must simply take one step, then the next, then the next, and keep moving forward".
P.J. Wetzel
Robert Alden Rubin is a talented writer. He writes fluidly, sometimes lyrically, and always with the competence of a professional. His writing style seems to aspire to what writers call 'literary' prose. An author whose writing has literary quality is one who could write about a toilet plunger and keep the reader enthralled. The interest is in the fresh turn of phrase, the crafting of simple ideas into vivid experiences that jump off the page, the music and flow of the sentences, the emotional v ...more
Dec 19, 2011 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, non-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dee Mills
The guy can write, but for me, his book was that of an observer rather than a participant. Too often, he seemed to step back and watch the experience, rather than open himself to the experience itself. I found this off-putting. Too often, his stance had a pinch of superiority to it. I suppose it was only that he was trying to analyze situations, but I didn't invest enough in the author to appreciate his insights.

Perhaps my enjoyment of this book was tempered by the fact that I didn't find the a
Jun 30, 2007 Kurt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hikers
It's another hiking narrative of a guy's trip up the A.T. This one's got a little more going for it than many. He has an on-going stressful relationship with his wife that the distance doesn't seem to help. And also he weaves in a lot of local history, geography, ecology and so on. He worked in publishing before hiking in 1997 ... and he's worked for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy since 1999. So that could hint that he knows about writing and about the Trail, too. It's a good and thoughtful r ...more
Joseph Gillen
I read a lot of hiking stories, mostly about the AT. This one was just OK. To me, it seemed the author made the actual story secondary to trying to be poetic.

The "verse" seemed forced to me, as were the periodic allusions to Thoreau. I skipped over several paragraphs of rambling descriptions.

The highlight of AT stories for me are the interactions of thru hikers and the unexpected friendships. This book didn't have those in any real detail and I missed that.

No matter what, the author wrote a boo
Apr 20, 2012 Anthony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have always wanted to hike the entire Appalachian Trail and have been enthralled with hearing about anyone else that has, this is another one of those stories. Robert did complete the entire journey and speaks about the day to day life and his thoughts during the trek. While I enjoyed Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods. This is more of what I was looking for, less side stories and deviations from the story and more what actually happens on the trails.
Bla bla bla

No wonder this guy quit his job as an editor. This book was boring. A forced attempt at humor and self analytical babble. It moved indiscriminately between the people on the trail, nature, psycho babble and trail history in an in organized and rambling manner that I did not enjoy. No wonder this guy quit his job as an editor. If this book is a reflection of his skills he should stick to hiking.
Sep 24, 2007 Dave rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: journeys
The author (trail name: Rhymin' Worm) of this A.T. travel book takes himself and his long hike a little too seriously without explaining the importance to the reader. A journey book is only good if there is some meaning achieved from the ordeal of traveling (that's why I read them)and I don't think Rubin quite understood himself what he was doing. Rhymin' Worm needed to figure out what his little journey meant before he put his book for sale.
I liked this a lot better than A Walk in the Woods.

Rubin quits his job and decides to hike the entire Appalachian Trail. He's a little self-important sometimes (naming himself "Rhymin' Worm"? Really?) but overall seems to appreciate the not-alwasys-positive ripple effects of his decision on his marriage, career, etc.

Rubin's descriptions of the trail were well-written, which made this an overall enjoyable book.

Sep 05, 2013 Chade66 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2013, hiking
This is my third AT book, so many of the place names are familiar. He quits his job as a fiction editor (and doesn't know who Kilgore Trout is? Really?) and goes on this hike for 6 months. It causes a lot of friction in his marriage and frankly I'm surprised that his wife didn't dump him because she was so ticked off.

I think he needed the time to get his head on straight, but perhaps there was a better way to work it out with his wife beforehand.
Sarah Ewald
Sep 16, 2015 Sarah Ewald rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Since I will probably never get the opportunity to hike the AT, l live vicariously thru the books of those who have. I found myself smiling all the way thru this book. Wonderful writer. Not as wryly funny as Bill Brysons A Walk in the Woods, but with introspection on life and love, and a gentle sense of humor. Loved it.
Andy Anderson
May 18, 2013 Andy Anderson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Very informative book about the authors time on the AT. One minute you want to do it so bad you can taste it, the next chapter you are saying no way.... Then at the end who he gets to the Mount, you want to head out ASAP. One minute it sounds like a dream come true, the next you think it might be the trip to hell.
kathy Pesce
Jun 13, 2008 kathy Pesce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
the story of a man who was kind of "beaten down" by his career as an editor in NY; subsequently finds that becoming immersed in the arduous task of thru hiking the appalachian trail helps to replace one mindset with another. The trek becomes not only a strong goal but a form of therapy.I especially liked the book because it was always more about the trail.
May 06, 2009 Sue rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In stead of uplifting, I felt we were on a marriage break up hike - sad, I could only wish that the author and his wife could have had a more solid foundation that would have allowed them to share more of the adventure with each other.
Apr 06, 2013 Carrie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My obsession with the AT has been fueled even more. Good trail narrative but I'm bummed he lost 75 pounds, then gained it all back. I'm not trying to judge, but one of the messages for the AT for me is healthy living.
Jul 29, 2013 Jeannie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adventure
Having wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail I was interested in learning what one goes endures hiking for 2000 miles for 6 months. Robert Alden Rubin made is interesting and I leaned a great deal. In fact I learned that I'm not going to attempt it at my age!!! but would have liked to.
Feb 21, 2013 Merri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quit his job, left his life and wife behind for several months to make this personal journey. Overweight & out of shape, one man alone heads off into an unfamiliar world of hikers & raw nature. A descriptive page turner. I enjoyed it.
Brendan Booth
Nov 23, 2014 Brendan Booth rated it it was amazing
the best hiking book i've ever read. also the best written travel book i've ever come across. provides great descriptions of the scenery, towns and characters encountered on an appalachian thru hike.
Jim Warnock
Sep 13, 2009 Jim Warnock rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great narrative of one man’s walk on the Appalachian Trail. Reading this gives you real insights into the culture of the hiking community that makes this trek. Ruben’s writing style and the balance he maintains throughout this book make for an enjoyable read.
Apr 23, 2008 Lori rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love the idea of thru-hiking the AT, but probably like this book it would start out really interesting and exciting and then eventually get monotonous. By the end I started to feel like the author and and just hope the the hike to end.
Jul 25, 2011 Keith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though Rubin seems at times pretentious, and doesn't provide much closure, this is still a great read for someone who dreams of hiking the AT.
Jun 30, 2013 Jennifer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enjoyable tale of hiking the trail. Definitely one that doesn't gloss over the hard parts. Mice and bugs and other privations are mentioned and not hidden from the reader.
This is a little different than the standard AT thru-hike journal, as Rubin is actually a good writer. Still, nothing extraordinary.
Jul 19, 2015 Scott rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
bla bla bla. So you hiked the trail good for you as a personal accomplishment. Not impressed by this book. Not a good story.
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ROBERT ALDEN RUBIN holds an M.A. in creative writing from Hollins College, and a PhD in English Literature from the University of North Carolina. He worked as a journalist and a college English instructor at the University of North Carolina and was an editor for Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. He lives in Sykesville, Maryland, with his wife.
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