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Becoming Odyssa

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating details ·  3,462 Ratings  ·  428 Reviews
After graduating from college, Jennifer isn't sure what she wants to do with her life. She is drawn to the Appalachian Trail, a 2175-mile footpath that stretches from Georgia to Maine. Though her friends and family think she's crazy, she sets out alone to hike the trail, hoping it will give her time to think about what she wants to do next. The next four months are the mos ...more
ebook, 319 pages
Published May 27th 2014 by Beaufort Books (first published November 2010)
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Kira FlowerChild In my opinion, she did not really become Odyssa during the events chronicled in this book, but she definitely has since then. There is information in…moreIn my opinion, she did not really become Odyssa during the events chronicled in this book, but she definitely has since then. There is information in this book regarding her later experiences with the Appalachian Trail and other hikes around the world, so yes, she eventually achieved what she set out to do. But if you are reading this book, as I did, after reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed, Jennifer Pharr Davis' first hike up the Appalachian trail was (pardon the pun) a walk in the park compared to the rigors of the Pacific Crest Trail.(less)
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Community Reviews

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Aug 05, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travelogues, outdoors
I've read numerous hiking memoirs and this is one of the weaker ones.

Jennifer has a good story -- hiking the Appalachian Trail solo when she was 21 -- but the writing was too florid and she had long digressions about her Christian faith and her relationship with God.

I also found her naivete frustrating. She claimed she had been thinking about hiking the trail for years and had been preparing, so I had trouble believing that she didn't know she needed a water filter, or that she had to protect
Katie Jean
Jul 08, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I cannot believe that there are not more raw reviews of this book! In the spirit of the author, here is my review: I tried really hard to like this author and her story but at about halfway through I could not stand her at all. She spends most of her time complaining about the people that she encounters on the trail and victimizes every situation that doesn't suit her. She defines herself by her faith but acts with little compassion and respect and a "better than you" attitude. Part of the story ...more
Jan 14, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The author strikes me as one of those hypocrite Christians--constantly talking about how much she's into God and then a paragraph later criticizing someone else for... well... pretty much anything and everything. This girl has a serious problem with being a judgmental prude. She also makes fun of other people's religious choices.

I am usually uplifted by AT thru hike accounts. This book left me with a sour taste in my mouth. I guess the author never heard the mantra "hike your own hike" because
Jan 05, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As an incredible athlete and an honest writer, I have respect for Davis. Her hiking ability is unrivaled and the attention to detail in this story impressive. Moreover, the presentation of a female perspective-- the depiction of the special difficulty women have in attempting to assure their own safety alone in a situation like the AT is important. I'm not sure that I could complete a thru-hike at all, never mind doing so at half her rate. However, I have to side with those who find this story, ...more
I just started this book and was in tears in 5 minutes. Mostly because the topic is so close to my heart - a woman's journey on the Appalachian Trail. I just finished my 2nd hike on the AT in early September and already feel the pull to return. I love the way Jen describes her initial excitement and fears. She's clear about her mistakes and learning curves. So far, her descriptions are spot on. It's a difficult read for me because I miss the trail so much; it is such a part of my being and histo ...more
Oct 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All lovers of the outdoors, especially hikers.
Recommended to Tom by: No one
The author is the National Geographic Hiker of the Year Award for 2012, the current speed record holder for thru-hiking Appalachain Trail (2011), and a compelling writer. I could not put the book down, and read it in one day.
How is it that this book isn't more widely read?
How can it be that this book is absent on bookshelves in stores, while "Wild", Cheryl Strayed's account of a partial 1100 mile hike from 1995 on the Pacific Crest Trail is now known by practically everyone in America?
It's got
Oct 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed "Wild" so much that I went searching for similar books. This is one woman's story of her first time on the Appalachian Trail. I so admire the drive and physical ability to take something like this or the Pacific Coast Trail on. I was exhausted reading of all the miles covered, especially the side trips into town over miles then trekking back to pick up the trail. It was fascinating to learn of the shelters set up for thru-hikers and sometimes the politics and annoyances when weekend hi ...more
Jan 01, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found this book incredibly dull for the most part, and only managed to finish I out of shear stubbornness. The trouble wasn't so much the book itself, rather with how it sets the expectations so far off from what it actually ends up being. 

For example, neither the description or first chapter Kindle sample gave me any hint at how much of the book would be focused on religion rather than the actual Appalachian Trail. In some places religion and spirituality were extremely relevant, but at many
Dec 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite
Jennifer Pharr Davis is like a superhero but better. We are alike in some ways. We are only a year apart in age. We both spent part of 2005 in different areas of Maine. But Jennifer is the superhero. I couldn't imagine walking alone on the Appalachian Trail as a young female. I once tried to walk a couple miles around a lake after having eaten only a couple donuts the entire day and didn't get very far. As if I didn't think that was pathetic enough, imagine my shame when Jennifer hikes over 2,00 ...more
Read, Run, Ramble
Feb 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2013
Okay - first off, it didn't take me almost a year to read this book!! I started it last year and got sidetracked with book club books and reviews I was trying to finish up. So I started fresh after the first of the year.

This is my first AT memoir and I thoroughly enjoyed it. From the people Pharr Davis encountered to the situations in which she found herself, I was intrigued the entire way. One of the first things I found after starting is that I wanted to visit this trail. I'm not a hiker, I've
Lauren Henderson
Apr 15, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-kindle, memoir
DNF. This book is probably the most boring outdoor adventure book I've ever read. I mean I'm sure she had some pretty awesome experiences while on the Appalachian Trail, but she's horrible at emotionally conveying her experiences. This book reads more like a step by step process, there really is no emotion. Her writing even comes off as somewhat snooty. I really did try to like it... I read about 25% just to make sure that it wasn't going to get better.

I think the problem is that I love Wild. I
While I didn't like everything about this book, it captured me. I was reading it every chance I could get and forfeiting sleep to get a bit further. It follows Jenn Pharr Davis' (AT speed record holder) first trek on the Appalachian Trail when she was 21.

As she writes the book it becomes more reflective and deep, which I like. This is probably a product of it being her first book. I overall was curious about her trip, and the things I didn't like are more of her personal choices on the trail. Sh
This is the story of Jennifer Pharr (trail name: Odyssa) who at 21, decided to hike the Appalachian Trail alone. And it the hike from Georgia to Maine, she transforms her life, faces her fears, and embraces her inner Odyssa.

Another great AT memoir. I loved it. The part that I find most fascinating is that the author has since set the speed record for hiking the trail. Not the women's speed record, the speed record. The adventure of her first hike is a coming of age journey, but also can touch th
Feb 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. Of course I love anything about hiking and backpacking. It wasn't action packed or anything but it was a great break from my textbooks. Since I am planning a week long AT hike this summer I enjoyed the details. I did notice that she didn't seem to complain or mention all the difficulties of backpacking on the AT as much as other similar books I have read. I loved the spiritual insights and experiences she had along the trail!
Nov 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: outdoor enthusiasts
Shelves: first-reads-wins
i won this book on this site as a giveaway. the minute i picked it up i barely put it down. it's hard to explain the emotions that this book conjured up but one thing i know for sure....i cannot wait until spring so i can walk 10 minutes down my road and start hiking up that trail! Now, this book will be passed along to my neighbors who are dying to read it!
Belinda Woody
Jan 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very descriptive book about hiking the Appalachian Trail.
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An up close and personal memoir/travelogue of the author's first thru-hike journey on the Appalachian Trail. I was about half-way through the book when I realized that it was HER speed record that Scott Jurek recently beat in 2016. (This kind of physical endurance fascinates me, because it becomes more mental than physical. Enter another reference to the book 'Grit'.)

Ariel Rittenhouse
I loved this book. I related with Jen's musings a lot and enjoyed her writing/story telling. It's a quick and easy read, but very inspiring to read about a woman's perspective of the Appalachian Trail- especially thru-hiking it solo as a 21-year old. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in thru-hiking, or someone that enjoys memoirs- from the perspective of a young woman. Not very technical about thru-hiking, much more contemplative philosophically but I definitely learned a few thin ...more
All right, let me get this out of the way- As a Christian Jennifer seemed very put upon by the world. She seemed convinced that her Christianity made her pariah, and I’m sorry, that attitude itself makes you a pariah. You hold yourself back and aloof and separate, and then that’s how you get treated. She automatically assumed that everyone would look down on her or aghast that she was a Christian, and when that’s what you think, you take everything as a slight. I’m also a Christian, but I have a ...more
Jan 14, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was another Appalachian Trail memoir, this one by the woman who set the speed record (for women) in 2008 for doing the 2,175 mile trail in 57 days. This memoir isn't about that journey, however; it's about her first Appalachian Trail completion a few years earlier when she was 21 and a recent university graduate.

The tales of the trail, its highs and lows, the blisters and the sunsets, the stalkers and the unexpected friends, were wonderful. Odyssa/Jen reminded me why I like to hike (althoug
Aaminah Shakur
Nov 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a "first read" opportunity and i admit i signed up to get it thinking of a friend whose dream is to walk the Appalachian Trail. i told her i would read it first to do a review for GoodReads (in thanks to the publisher for sending it to me free) and then send it on to her. i wasn't really looking forward to this book, thinking it would be dull and uninteresting to me, but i was wrong.

This book tells the true story of a just-graduated college student with no idea what she wants to do with
Erin Charpentier
I have incredible respect for Davis' athleticism, especially with regard to the trails she's conquered since her first through hike. I needed an easy read, as well, after finishing a difficult book yesterday. I was able to finish this in one sitting.

That said, I found her voice incredibly annoying, as well as her somewhat condescending tone. Apologies to the people of Pennsylvania because Davis apparently thinks your state is trash and full of scary people. She was also, in parts, incredibly nai
Jan 05, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, nonfiction, sports
Never in a million years would I want to do what Jen did — to have done it, maybe, but to do it — to hike 2175 miles solo as a 21-year-old female in a male-dominated environment through some of our nation's roughest terrain in miserably cold weather, battling ravenous flies and festering feet, surviving on energy bars and streamwater, sleeping on bumpy ground or the floorboards of a trail shelter alone or with strangers, toting wet gear in a chafing backpack, conniving to escape a stalker — no t ...more
Dec 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hike-trek
Absolutely solid, five star read for me through and through, and easily one of the BEST thru-hiking memoirs (PCT or AT) I've read so far!

I just finished another thru-hiking memoir written by a girl of similar age (see my review of Girl in the Woods) and this one was such a refreshing read from the former - well written, honest, lacking in drama and pretentiousness. The author set out to do the hike, had some interesting experiences along the way, spent quite a bit of time soul searching and maki
Jul 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book almost made me want to hike the Appalachian Trail -- which I probably won't do. However, it has inspired me to start doing daily walks again, and that is something. (I could totally see my daughter, Jaimie, my self-described bohemian child, doing this.) I love that I learned so much. I had heard of the Appalachian Trail, but I didn't know very much about it. After reading this book, I feel like I am at least conversant with the lingo.

I enjoyed the vicarious journey and at the beginning
Nov 18, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
Becoming Odyssa is the inspiring story of a solo female thru-hiker on the Appalachian Trail. It would be unfair to compare this book to the only other book I've read about the Trail (Bill Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods") because it is not necessarily a story of the trail itself but of the woman who hikes it. That said, Pharr Davis comes into her own as a writer as Odyssa (her trail name) comes into her own as a hiker. After a slow start of "I woke up early and hiked all day" to more promising dis ...more
Jun 17, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A balanced response: This is a, reasonably, well written book about the Appalachian Trail suitable for anyone with an interest in the AT. Ms. Davis' drive, stamina, endurance and tolerance of discomfort are commendable and worthy of praise. Reading through her journey from floundering recent college grad to woman who knows what she is made of with a solid idea of where she wants to go was very good to read and again, commendable on the author's part. Still, the word 'sanctimonious' came to mind ...more
Gwen Veazey
Skeptical at first, I only read this for a book club. (What worthwhile observations and insights can come from a twenty-something author reflecting on her Appalachian Trail hike at age 21?) Davis is now an accomplished award-winning hiker, and on a return trip in 2011, set the record for fastest time to complete the Appalachian Trail, 46 days. It turns out she’s a good writer and wise beyond her years, and for me, a non-hiker who can barely go 5 miles, this book provided an enjoyable vicarious e ...more
This was a quick read. I saw this book at my friend's house and she had read it as a friend of a friend of the author. I'm a sucker for AT thru-hike tales, as I've always dreamed of doing that myself (mostly in theory). The author won't win any Pulitzer Prizes for her writing, but it has a well-executed structure and narrative arc. She was only 21 when she first hiked the trail and that young voice often comes out, which is to be expected. I appreciated her reflections on her faith as a part of ...more
Galen Johnson
While Davis's athleticism is inspiring, the writing in this book is not. Descriptions of the scenery and the trail lacked vividness, there wasn't a good sense of time to the book, and Davis came across as uncomfortably judgmental of others. I've read a number of books about the AT and the PCT, and this was by far the most boring of the bunch. Davis made her hike at 21, and a lot of the book is taken up with 21-year-old musings and perspectives and discoveries about the "real world", which just g ...more
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Jennifer Pharr Davis grew up in the North Carolina Mountains, where she developed a love for hiking at a young age. At age twenty-one, Jennifer hiked the entire Appalachian Trail as a solo female and fell in love with long-distance backpacking.

Since then, Jennifer has hiked more than 8,000 miles of trails in North America, including the Pacific Crest Trail, Vermont’s Long Trail, and the Colorado T
More about Jennifer Pharr Davis...

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“The scenic vistas of North Carolina and Tennessee make you feel like you're looking at a work of art, but crossing through the rural countryside of southwest Virginia and caressing the tall grass with your fingertips, you feel like you're part of the painting.” 4 likes
“On the trail, all I had to do was walk. It was up to me how far I wanted to walk and where I wanted to end up. I could stop when I wanted, I could eat when I wanted, I could take naps at any point during the day.The trail allowed me to feel a strong sense of freedom. And it helped me to see the oppression of a busy schedule and the way we multitask in civilization. I no longer saw what was civil about filling my life with commitments if I couldn't stop to watch the sunset or listen to the birds sing.” 2 likes
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