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

3.77  ·  Rating Details  ·  361 Ratings  ·  52 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.
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 1st 2001 by The Lyons Press (first published 2000)
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Gail Gray
Jun 16, 2012 Gail Gray rated it it was amazing
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
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.
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
Jun 29, 2015 Mom2atornado rated it really liked it
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".
Oct 15, 2009 Margaret rated it it was ok
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
Feb 13, 2015 Dawn rated it it was amazing
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
P.J. Wetzel
Aug 11, 2013 P.J. Wetzel rated it liked it
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
Shelves: travel, non-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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.
Joseph Gillen
Oct 13, 2014 Joseph Gillen rated it liked it
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
Sarah Ewald
Sep 16, 2015 Sarah Ewald rated it it was amazing
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.
May 30, 2014 Jody rated it liked it
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.

Michelle Peters
Mar 04, 2014 Michelle Peters rated it liked it
Great book for the learning about the Appalachian Trail thruhiker sub-culture! Wished I could have enjoyed Robert's personal journey a bit more.
Tyler Nals
May 19, 2015 Tyler Nals rated it it was amazing
Great read. Then again, I'm a sucker for these types of books.
Feb 09, 2016 Georgette rated it really liked it
Continuing to read about trail thruhiking pilgrimages. A well-written account of one man's hike of the Appalachian Trail.
Nov 22, 2015 Andrea rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
Solid, introspective.
Sandra Larkin
Mar 19, 2015 Sandra Larkin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's time to start something new, follow a new path, rediscover nature!
Jun 30, 2007 Kurt rated it really liked it
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
Barbara Buehrle
Oct 15, 2015 Barbara Buehrle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written account of a thruhiker's journey. His question was not answered. But the search gives one pause for thought.
Apr 20, 2012 Anthony rated it really liked it
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.
Sep 05, 2013 Chade66 rated it liked it
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.
Brendan Booth
Nov 23, 2014 Brendan Booth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Sep 24, 2007 Dave rated it did not like it
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.
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.
kathy Pesce
Jun 13, 2008 kathy Pesce rated it really liked it
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.
Andy Anderson
May 18, 2013 Andy Anderson rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 29, 2013 Jeannie rated it really liked it
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.
Sep 13, 2009 Jim rated it it was amazing
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.
May 06, 2009 Sue rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 21, 2013 Merri rated it really liked it
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.
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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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