A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
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A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  143,792 ratings  ·  8,789 reviews
The Appalachian Trail trail stretches from Georgia to Maine and covers some of the most breathtaking terrain in America: majestic mountains, silent forests, sparking lakes. If you're going to take a hike, it's probably the place to go. And Bill Bryson is surely the most entertaining guide you'll find. He introduces us to the history and ecology of the trail and to some of...more
Mass Market Paperback, 397 pages
Published December 26th 2006 by Anchor (first published March 4th 1992)
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A Walk in the Woods by Bill BrysonEat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth GilbertInto the Wild by Jon KrakauerIn a Sunburned Country by Bill BrysonInto Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jason
I am what some might call a pussy hiker. I do genuinely enjoy a leisurely stroll in the “mountains” of Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire. I like the pretty views. I always bring my conveniently-sized L.L. Bean backpack ($39.95 from the Kittery Outlets) so I have a place for my camera and cell phone. But by early afternoon, I would like to be done, please. I would like to be done and sitting at a booth in a pub with my burger and beer. Camping is certainly worthy of consideration, but here...more
Steve Sckenda
Jan 11, 2014 Steve Sckenda rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: People who like a Little Comedy Sprinkled in With Nature
This is the type of book that my wife and kids hide from me. When I read nature books, I hear the call of the wild and start answering. Like Buck, ancestral spirits summon me. But when I attempt to enthusiastically mimic that voice to my family, I have a mutiny on my hands or, more precisely, passive resistance of a flinty quality that would impress Gandhi.

An infantry captain affixes his bayonet and charges half-way to the enemy trench, only to realize that nobody is following him. The troops t...more
erin
Jan 31, 2007 erin rated it 1 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Smug jerks, misanthropes, tourists
It's been a busy couple of weeks, so I thought I'd spent the last of my holiday indulging in a witty travelogue to set my feet itching. Unfortunately, I picked the wrong book. Years of declining the advice of the Bryson-worshipers, it seems, was not in vain.

I'm halfway through, and - like the author on the daunting trail - am unsure as to whether or not I can finish my task. Bryson sounds, to put it mildly, a real jerk. He's smug and superior, and spends most of the book complaining about his co...more
Ken-ichi
May 07, 2009 Ken-ichi rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ken-ichi by: Maggi
Shelves: travel, naturalism, nature
Undoubtedly an amusing, breezy read, full of the kind of fun and hilarity all the blurbs lead you to expect. For instance, "Hunters will tell you that a moose is a wily and ferocious forest creature. Nonsense. A moose is a cow drawn by a three-year-old." That had me laughing on the train.

I can't say I liked this book quite as much as some of my friends seem to. On the one hand, I've had at least 1 semi-grueling backpacking experience with a companion who was wholly unprepared for a rigorous day...more
Diane
Bill Bryson calls the Appalachian Trail "the grandaddy of long hikes," but for me, this book is the granddaddy of hiking memoirs. I first read it sometime around 1999, and I enjoyed it so much that not only have I reread this multiple times, but it also inspired me to read at least a dozen other hiking adventures. None have matched Bryson's wit.

Before he started writing long books on various aspects of history, Bryson was known for his entertaining travelogues. "A Walk in the Woods" was his hum...more
Jack
May 17, 2007 Jack rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: anyone still breathing
Imagine a grueling, four-month wilderness trek along the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. Your guide: an intellectual, who lived half his life in England, well versed in geology, zoology, ecology and pretty much all of the other ‘ologies.’ Yet, this far from ordinary guide summons the sparkle of Twain, and of Billy Crystal. Picture all of this for a sense of what can be found inside the covers of Bill Bryson’s "A Walk in the Woods." Bryson, a self-deprecating intellectual of the first or...more
Dylan
Sep 15, 2007 Dylan rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Everyone
I have read most of Bill Bryson's books and they are all good-- excellent even. His gift is in his ability to detect the humor in any situation. Where you or I might see a man walking down the street he sees something, and articulates it so well, packed with humor. But this book is his best. The reason, I think, is that it takes him out of his element. His natural writing style is this so-called "travel writing" genre-- the idea that someone goes somewhere and writes about it and their time ther...more
Ben Williams
i always tell people that they will either love this (and most of his other) books to death, or that they will find them utterly unamusing. i find them hilarious. i have never laughed so hard while reading a book as with Bryson's books. Give it a go--you'll know after the first few chapters whether you share his witty, tasteful sense of humor or not:)
LINDA
Nov 03, 2007 LINDA rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Nature Lovers
At the recomendation of one of my bosses I took this book along on a strenuous 10 mile backcountry hike in Shenandoah that was full of amazing mountain-top vistas, stream crossings, and beautiful rocky trails framed with fall folliage.

It is a hilarious book that recounts Byson's aventure of preparing for and hiking the entire length of the Appalachian Trail- which actually passes through Shenandoah just miles from where we were camping.

I had started reading the book in the tent by the light of...more
Suzanne
I have a friend in Vermont who spent his honeymoon hiking the Appalachian Trail. It took them 6 months, start to finish. They now live in a home powered by solar batteries. Like Bryson, their respect for nature is very real. This is an entertaining account of Bryson's experience and can vicariously give us a sense of what it might be like to live without the conveniences we have come to take for granted.
Eric_W
This is a wonderful book to listen to while traveling with a group of people. It will keep you interested and laughing heartily all the way to your destination.

Bryson decided one day that it would be a neat thing to hike the Appalachian Trail – all 2,160 miles of it (although the actual length varies depending on the page you might be on in the official guides or what year it is, because the trail is constantly being changed and moved).

Deciding to do a little research, he soon discovered that th...more
Jasmin
Bryson has a great sense of humor, and does a good job of capturing the quirkiness of backwood folk. However, I was sometimes frustrated by his viewpoints, which dampened my opinion and enjoyment of this book. For instance, Bryson says on page 199:

"To tell you the truth I was getting a little wearied of this [remote wilderness]. I know the Apalachian Trail is suposed to be a wilderness experience, and I accept that there are countless places where it would be a tragedy for it to be otherwise, bu...more
Riku Sayuj
Jan 28, 2012 Riku Sayuj rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Riku by: Ashish Korde
Shelves: favorites
Probably only the second non-fiction book that has made me sit up thrilled through an entire night reading and feel terribly disappointed as it ended almost without my noticing it. Full review to be put up soon.
James
Oct 12, 2007 James rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: goal-oriented people
Finishing Part 1, I feel so let down. Bill and Katz have left the AT and gone their separate ways, promising to return end of summer. Now it's no secret they won't conplete the through-hike. I just about feel like giving up the remaining pages myself.

This is my first Bryson read, and it's everything I heard it would be. I like Bryson's sarcastic humor. It's chuckle out loud funny, mostly because I spent 1990-1993 section-hiking the AT. Been there--done that so to speak (except for the Maine and...more
Don
I have had 4-5 people tell me over the years that I ought to read this book, so after Jean read it I kept it around the house. And one evening when I had finished a book and wasn't all that sleepy, I picked this up.

And it made me very sleepy. Lots of sleepy nights with this selection.

Yes, and he's a good writer and this has a few nice little anecdotes.

But jeez, it's just not a very interesting or very good book, that's all. Let's see, it's by a guy who doesn't really like to hike (he'd rather be...more
Steve
At the dawn of the twentieth-century, journalists, travel writers, social workers, and adventure seekers descended on the Appalachian Mountains in droves, expecting to find a land of violent, uneducated "hillbillies" whose primary occupations were distilling illegal alcohol and killing one another. That they were mistaken in their assumptions has been demonstrated time and again, in both popular and academic literature.

Almost 100 years later, writer Bill Bryson took a walk on the Appalachian tra...more
Eric Aiello
Quite seriously the funniest and most inspiring book I've read in a long time. The first half (or so) of the book with Katz was hilarious. The brief intermission without Katz was very interesting, but damn, I couldn't wait for Katz to show up again. The last few chapters when Bryson and Katz were hiking the 100 mile wilderness in Maine were tear-and-convulsion-inducingly hilarious. Wonderful, wonderful read!

This entire book is worth the read if only for the part that Bryson describes the moose h...more
Ash
3 and 1/2 stars

My first book which was a travelogue. Interesting but also little monotonous and boring at places, because he dumped way too many facts. The facts were interesting but sometimes made me sleepy. It was good but not exactly "great", the way I thought it would be. I have not been to AT, so in a way it was kinda exciting to read about it. I have one complaint from books like this - "Why don't they put any photos?"

I kind of did not like Bryson's egoistic attitude. He acted like a jer...more
Laura
I enjoyed this book, and it was funny at times. It was a little heavy on (not always relevant/interesting) history of the areas surrounding the trail for my taste, so it loses a star, even though those parts were brief.

Although I found the book interesting, I'm not sure I'd classify it as a humorous book, particularly if the reader is a nature lover. There were many humorous parts, but for every comment that made me smile or laugh, there was another about a disappearing species, fouled habitat,...more
Allisen Lemay
generally speaking, i hate nature. dont like bugs, dont like to sweat, dont like being dirty, dont like to pee in public, especially if there is no actual toilet, dont like, dont like, dont like...parts of this were good for a chuckle, parts of this felt like elementary school science class, parts of this were boring. many parts of this made me feel guilty about having lived in new england my entire life and never having stepped foot on the AT. that being said, please refer to the start of this...more
Michael
A warning: He doesn't finish the Goddamned trail! How much of a letdown is that? Anybody can walk half of the damned Appalachian Trail...well, okay, anybody can't...but, if you're going to write a Goddamned book about it, walk the whole thing! Forsooth!

Rant done. This book is fun, and since it'll be a long time before I tackle the Appalachian, I'm glad I found a fun book about it. Bryson writes well, and this book is full of fun, odd facts about both the Appalachian Trail and the DNR. And hiking...more
Karen
This book is laugh-out-loud funny. Admittedly, I am partial to slapstick humor and this book has it in abundance. Besides being informative in a very sneaky way, Bill Bryson's reintroduction to the United States via his ill-advised plan to hike the Appalachian trail provides excellent entertainment. His sidekick, Katz, is his muse. I am always sorry to see Katz go back to Iowa when I read or listen to this book on CD (which is great for driving trips). Overall, I give it high marks. It is Bill B...more
Kelly  Maybedog
The first half of this book was so funny I wanted to read it again and again. There was a lot of information--history and factoids--that made the book very interesting, too. I credit this book on getting me back into reading after the disastrous months preceding where I barely read at all. Easily one of my favorite books. So much so, that I'm considering reading it again and I am so not a rereader.
Meenakshi
I always used to see this book on my library shelf, but never picked it up. I just wasn't ready for Bryson yet. It's funny though, I have A Short History Of Nearly Everything since ages and I didn't even think of starting it. My complications aside, let's back to reviewing.

Yes, so I started reading this on my ride back home, on the train, something I shouldn't have done. Ended up snorting, giggling and goodness knows what expressions crossed my face that made people stare at me incredulously. It...more
Katie Garcia
I really enjoyed this book. Mostly because it wasn't one of those mid life self discovery nature is zen books. It's about someone I could relate to and his relationship with the Appalachian Trail. He isn't miserable or sad or anything, he just wakes up one day and decides to walk the trail with a buddy and 75 lbs of snickers. Sounds good to me. It was an amazing mix of personal narrative, history about the trail, facts about the flora and fauna of the trail. So so good, made me really excited to...more
Kristi Vitale
This summer my family visited Muir Woods National Monument in Marin County in Northern California, and from that moment onward I have been smitten with the park's tranquil beauty. And I seriously think I was bitten by the hiking bug. It was absolutely breathtaking there. I'm yearning to go back into those deep, shady woods, look upward into the treetops, reach my hands outward at my sides, close my eyes, and do one of those in-the-moment twirls while taking the deepest breath of what I call perf...more
Tara
4 1/2 stars. Loved this book. Never read Bryson before, and could not believe how often I laughed out loud and got the giggles for minutes. Drove my family crazy when they were around. Bryson obviously has a great gift for making humor out of the mundane, and using his words to connect to his reader. Also marvelous were the descriptions of the characters he meets along his treks, but the real star of the book is his hiking compadre, Katz. The only reason I'm not giving this a review five is beca...more
F.R.
I’ve been doing a lot of walking myself recently, albeit in a very British way – that’s to say you head out with your backpack and a packed lunch, walk anything from 7-20 miles, before ending up having drinks in pleasant country pub. It’s a charming way to waste time of a weekend. On one of my walks (the one over Watership Down, I think) I did start pondering on which books I could read around this subject, and this was the one that jumped to mind.

The tale of how Bill Bryson and one of his frien...more
Joe
Aug 11, 2013 Joe rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Joe by: Steve Elefson
Shelves: hiking
If you've ever had the itch to hike the Appalachian Trail, this book will get you scratching. This is no hiking how-to book. While there are some good suggestions (at least as far as this neophyte can tell), rather this is an engaging story of a guy who decided, pretty much on the spur of the moment, to set out on this 2200-mile hike, then tell us about the experience. He recruits a childhood buddy to join him, and off they go. Bryson's story-telling is outstanding - of the details of negotiatin...more
Natalie
Feb 08, 2009 Natalie rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Ivy, Scott, Bass
Recommended to Natalie by: Aaron
Shelves: nature-books
OK, to warn you. I read a LOT of non-fiction. About half of what I read is non-fiction, and I firmly believe there is an art to it.

Anyone who thinks Bill is not funny can kiss my butt. I howled with laughter at his discussion about what to do in the event of a bear attack. But I realize humor is a dicey subject, so before I sell you on this book, how about I tell you what kind of a humorist he is, and from that description, you will figure out for yourself whether or not you will like him.

Think...more
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
should he go back? 8 85 Mar 11, 2014 10:13PM  
Bill Bryson 73 533 Mar 11, 2014 02:04AM  
Walking in the woods is fun! 38 182 Sep 28, 2013 09:50PM  
RAOA Bibliophiles: * A Walk in the Woods Book Discussion 1 13 Mar 30, 2013 01:30PM  
RAOA Bibliophiles: * Book Discussion: Part I: Chapters 1 - 12 8 19 Mar 17, 2013 06:13PM  
RAOA Bibliophiles: Book Discussion: Part II: Chapters 13 - 21 1 8 Mar 04, 2013 10:01PM  
  • Blue Highways
  • Happy Isles of Oceania: Paddling the Pacific
  • AWOL on the Appalachian Trail
  • Woodswoman I: Living Alone in the Adirondack Wilderness
  • Pole to Pole
  • Coming into the Country
  • Pass the Butterworms: Remote Journeys Oddly Rendered
  • Stranger in the Forest: On Foot Across Borneo
  • Touching the Void: The True Story of One Man's Miraculous Survival
  • Rowing to Latitude: Journeys Along the Arctic's Edge
  • Baghdad without a Map and Other Misadventures in Arabia
  • One Man's Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey
  • Whatever You Do, Don't Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide
  • A Year in Provence
  • A Russian Journal
  • She Got Up Off the Couch: And Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, Indiana
  • A Blistered Kind of Love: One Couple's Trial by Trail (Barbara Savage Award Winner)
  • A Walk Across America
7
Bill Bryson was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1951. He settled in England in 1977, and worked in journalism until he became a full time writer. He lived for many years with his English wife and four children in North Yorkshire. He and his family then moved to New Hampshire in America for a few years, but they have now returned to live in the UK.

In The Lost Continent, Bill Bryson's hilarious first t...more
More about Bill Bryson...
A Short History of Nearly Everything Notes from a Small Island In a Sunburned Country At Home: A Short History of Private Life I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After 20 Years Away

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“Black bears rarely attack. But here's the thing. Sometimes they do. All bears are agile, cunning and immensely strong, and they are always hungry. If they want to kill you and eat you, they can, and pretty much whenever they want. That doesn't happen often, but - and here is the absolutely salient point - once would be enough.” 122 likes
“My particular dread--the vivid possibility that left me staring at tree shadows on the bedroom ceiling night after night--was having to lie in a small tent, alone in an inky wilderness, listening to a foraging bear outside and wondering what its intentions were. I was especially riveted by an amateur photograph in Herrero's book, taken late at night by a camper with a flash at a campground out West. The photograph caught four black bears as they puzzled over a suspended food bag. The bears were clearly startled but not remotely alarmed by the flash. It was not the size or demeanor of the bears that troubled me--they looked almost comically nonaggressive, like four guys who had gotten a Frisbee caught up a tree--but their numbers. Up to that moment it had not occurred to me that bears might prowl in parties. What on earth would I do if four bears came into my camp? Why, I would die, of course. Literally shit myself lifeless. I would blow my sphincter out my backside like one of those unrolling paper streamers you get at children's parties--I daresay it would even give a merry toot--and bleed to a messy death in my sleeping bag.” 43 likes
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