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Far Appalachia: Following the New River North
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Far Appalachia: Following the New River North

3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  365 Ratings  ·  56 Reviews
With his sharp eye and gentle wit, Noah Adams doesn't just tell stories, he lets them unfold quietly, powerfully, and eloquently. Now the beloved host of NPR's All Things Considered and bestselling author of Piano Lessons takes us on a river journey through the heart of Appalachia--a journey shared by pioneers and preachers, white-water daredevils, bluegrass musicians, and ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published March 26th 2002 by Delta (first published 2001)
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Sep 18, 2015 Kelsey rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, travel
I liked this book in part because, as an NC resident who has spent a good amount of time up in the Appalachians hiking, rafting, biking, etc., I'd actually been to a good number of the places the author visits. It was interesting to see places like the New River Gorge, Snake Mountain, and the New River Trail through his eyes, and I thought the largely unknown/forgotten (to the larger world) history of the area was enlightening. I would have liked the author to have a stronger voice and more pers ...more
Jan 31, 2009 Anthony rated it really liked it
Great book describing the New River and the people around it. Growing up in North Carolina and spending a decent amount of time on the New River in West Virginia, I was able to relate to large portions of this book. There was a lot of overlap with things I love as well, bluegrass music, whitewater rafting, canoeing, Fayetteville WV, etc. I recommend it if you have any curosity about the Appalachia region.
Feb 02, 2009 Ryan rated it really liked it
A meandering travel story that captures the scenery and the history of this unique and underappreciated part of the country.
Jun 19, 2017 Jessi rated it liked it
This book was entertaining and informative; the lower rating is for the fact that it just didn't keep me flipping pages. The people & individual stories make it good.
Spencer Hill
May 02, 2012 Spencer Hill rated it liked it
Shelves: travel
I enjoyed this book for the most part. Mr. Adams doesn't quite understand his Appalachian brethren from WV. He has a liberal bias to the extractive industries that made this area. At times he looks at the area like a person from Appalachia then becomes the judgmental urban Boswashingtonite.

Most people do not "get" this area of the country. It is not an homogeneous group of Scotch-Irish, but a true melting pot of America-(actually our Italian food is better than NYC--because we got the working pe
Grady McCallie
Dec 27, 2015 Grady McCallie rated it really liked it
The linked chapters in this book add up to a gentle and beautiful but low key trip down the New River, from its headwaters in the mountains of North Carolina to its intersection with the Gauley in West Virginia, where the two rivers become the Kanawha. It's a short, fast read, with a close focus on the river and people who live or work by or on it - so it doesn't really provide a window into the broader economics or politics of the region.

I've never lived in the watershed, but I've visited plac
Jul 02, 2013 Cattfrancisco rated it it was amazing
This book made me want to visit some of the places along the New River that Noah Adams writes about. I've read that the New River Gorge is "the Grand Canyon of the East." That idea alone is one to make a person visit. On my way to cities in the Northeast, I've driven past the exit on I-64 that will take you to the Canyon Rim visitor center, frequently wishing I had allowed myself extra time to explore. Rich in history and culture - some say being settled by American Indians before 8000 B.C., the ...more
Jeff Crompton
Nov 22, 2015 Jeff Crompton rated it really liked it
Before reading this book, I was not familiar with the New River, which runs northward from the North Carolina mountains through Virginia into West Virginia. But Noah Adams has family roots in the area; his book chronicles some of the many hours he has spent on or near the river.

The writing is gentle and low-key for the most part. Adams writes about the places he visited, the people he met, and the plant and animal life he encountered. But the account of his first whitewater rafting expedition (
Sep 11, 2012 Chip rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this journey down the New River. His stories have added to my appreciation of the often misunderstood people of West Virginia. He does show limits in his understanding of the culture yet that is rooted in the probable intention of writing a story the whole time he made the trip instead of afterwards. Reading this book after "Coal River" helped fill in some of the gaps. I have and will continue to recommend his book to others if the genuinely want to learn more about ...more
Mar 09, 2011 Carly rated it liked it
Shelves: mary-book-club
This was a good book but I'm not sure exactly why I would have picked it up unless it was for a book club. I expected the book to go into more depth about the places and was a little disappointed when it didn't. It was neat to read about the places that are so close and learn a bit about the history of Radford/Blacksburg. The last part at the New River Gorge was really interesting! I will probably never go white water rafting but going to the bridge day and watching others do it sounds almost as ...more
Jan 21, 2016 Mollie rated it it was amazing
I had totally forgotten this book until a Facebook friend asked what was your favorite opening sentence of a book. This book, and this sentence: "I dreamed one night, not long ago, that I saw Doc Watson canoeing over a mountain in the dark."

How could a book that begins with a sentence like that be anything but wonderful to read? Mr. Adams' prose is gentle and descriptive. I loved it in a way I can't possibly describe to you.
Mar 04, 2016 Brooks rated it it was amazing
Adams prefaces the book by saying this is not about a quest, and it's not. It does have a degree of the "finding yourself" narrative but not in the way that Wild does. He is looking back at his family history (at the history of most appalachian families, in a way.) It is a very nice read. I almost wish I hadn't read it all at once. I think this would be a nice book to pick up, read a chapter or two, and go back to something else until you want to go to the river again.
Jan 04, 2017 Marsha rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, travel
I loved this smooth, eloquent and entertaining journey along the New River from North Carolina to West Virginia. Adams carried us with him as he biked, hiked, kayaked, canoed and rafted the length of the river north. The people he met along the way were at the heart of his journey, although the river was constantly flowing in the background.
It was a joy to turn to his elegant prose each evening and it made me want to take a trip to the south.
David Ward
Far Appalachia: Following the New River North by Noah Adams (Delta 2001)(917.547). Noah Adams, NPR stalwart, has written a fine book about the South, and more specifically, about Appalachia. The New River has its source high in the North Carolina mountains, and its mouth is in West Virginia. Adams explores the New River from puddle to torrent; this is his home territory, and the connection is evident. My rating: 7/10, finished 2002.
Colleen Mertens
Apr 08, 2015 Colleen Mertens rated it liked it
This was an interesting, although at times slightly depressing, book. It was a series of stories about the various places the author visited along the New River. The book was well written but at times seemed choppy. I expected it to read more like a continuous journey rather than a series of day trips.
Dec 14, 2013 Jane rated it it was ok
Shelves: hist-bio
Not a travelogue but reminiscences about canoeing/rafting/Jeeping along the New River, starting in North Carolina > Virginia > West Virginia. I keep forgetting how far west Virginia extends and how mountainous the west end of VA is beyond Asheville, despite having driven through twice. What surprised me is how far -east- the New River turns.

Entertaining, but too choppy for 3 stars.
Sep 06, 2011 Jim rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
An enjoyable collection of vignettes about the New River (which travels north from North Carolina through Virginia and West Virginia) that intertwine travel narrative, memoir, history, and outdoor recreational sport that is well written and a delight. Especially good is his story of white water rafting the river. I highly recommend.
Picked this up to complement my driving trip through the near part of West Virginia. Read about half of the vignettes. More about river sports than I was expecting, but a few bits of culture, too. Would recommend for anyone who wants prose about rafting/kayaking or contemplative pieces about place.
Jul 16, 2007 Laura rated it liked it
This is a good "in-between" book - something that you can pick up and put down easily without losing plot. It's the story(?) of the author's trip down the New River via kayak, bike and Jeep, stopping along the way to see the sights and meet people. There's some family history here, but mostly it's about the river and the people.
Jul 11, 2008 Nate rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, travel
Great read! I picked this up at the New River Gorge Visitor Center in West Virginia and read it last week at the beach. Adams did a great job at sucking you into his adventure through Appalachia and really made you fall in love with the culture.

The inspiration was so strong, I might go buy a kayak.
David Wasser
Aug 22, 2012 David Wasser rated it really liked it
A very interesting tale of one man's travel, over multiple years, of the entire length of the New River as it winds its way northward from North Carolina to the Ohio River. It's descriptions about Appalachia and the people who live there are very vivid and eye-opening. The author is NPR correspondent, Noah Adams.
Mark Lacy
Dec 22, 2013 Mark Lacy rated it really liked it
An easy, fast, enjoyable read. But Adams didn't go into enough depth with any of the people or situations he described. I was left wanting to know a lot more about the people he ran into, and what made them (and him) tick.
May 18, 2007 Jeannette rated it liked it
Shelves: travel
This book is about the New River valley, a truly lovely Appalachian waterway. My grandmother grew up in Galax, Virginia, so this book talks about her heritage. I live about an hour and a half away from the New River and have lived most of my life in the Appalachians so I really enjoyed this book.
Oct 14, 2010 Jennifer rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010-reads
For me, it was a slow start. I didn't really get in to it until the last fourth if the book when he was sharing his whitewater adventures. I have the Gauley on my list to do, so that kept me interested, but I wouldn't mark this as a must read for anyone.
Jun 30, 2008 Jason rated it liked it
I usually do not like travel books, this one defied my early expectations. His description is both accurate and incomplete but appropriate so. He does not try to over reach like other authors writing about the region.
Doug McCoy
Nov 23, 2013 Doug McCoy rated it liked it
Good read about an area I love...the Appalachians. I would have liked to have seen more maps and pictures...maybe a little more detail. I would have also liked to see more mention of hiking/backpacking.
Jul 02, 2014 Julie rated it really liked it
I read this book as I prepare for a trip to Kentucky with a youth group I lead. Wanting to know more about Appalachian culture and history, I've delved into several books. This is a pleasant read, recounting the authors trip by canoe and bicycle along the New River.
Kingston Bowen
Jul 25, 2011 Kingston Bowen rated it liked it
Good story. It was fun to follow Noah on his adventure. I do agree with another reviewer wishing there was more depth to some of the story. But it was a quick and easy read which was also pleasant.
Nov 15, 2011 Jennifer rated it really liked it
A good travelog type book with a wonderful voice. I grew up in the NC mountains and went to school at App State (those crawdads that live only in the New River? I did a thesis on those ^_^), so I knew some of these places. Adams did a wonderful job talking about the river and it's people.
Jul 05, 2011 Joanie rated it really liked it
I have to give this one at least 4 stars because he is a distant cousin on my mother's side. And anyway, I liked the book. Reading about Appalachia where my mother lived as a child is always interesting for me.
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