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Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  7,891 ratings  ·  1,343 reviews
After a close friend died of cancer, middle-aged, overweight, acrophobic newspaperman Tom Ryan decided to pay tribute to her in a most unorthodox manner. Ryan and his friend, miniature schnauzer Atticus M. Finch, would attempt to climb all forty-eight of New Hampshires four-thousand-foot peaks twice in one winter while raising money for charity. It was an adventure of a ...more
Hardcover, 276 pages
Published September 20th 2011 by William Morrow (first published January 1st 2011)
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Elke Vekeman Hello Marcia!
I am also reading "Following Atticus" and I am curious about Tom Ryan's next book "Will's red coat".
If you would like to give your…more
Hello Marcia!
I am also reading "Following Atticus" and I am curious about Tom Ryan's next book "Will's red coat".
If you would like to give your friend a touching story about another species of animal, I have 2 books to advise:
1) A streetcat named Bob, by James Bowen - a true story
2) When Fraser met Billy - or how the love of a cat transformed my little boy's life, by Louise Booth. It's about a Scottish couple who have a little boy with autism who take in a cat from the shelter. I cried heaps. Great and inspirational read.(less)
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth SteinA Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce CameronMarley and Me by John GroganWhere the Red Fern Grows by Wilson RawlsThe Call of the Wild by Jack London
Great "Dog" Books
1,076 books — 1,884 voters
Until Tuesday by Luis Carlos MontalvánA Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce CameronMarley and Me by John GroganThe Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth SteinThe Call of the Wild by Jack London
Top Dog Reads
561 books — 616 voters


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Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.13  · 
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 ·  7,891 ratings  ·  1,343 reviews


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Cathrine ☯️
Jul 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: hikers and lovers of people with their animals (especially dogs)
Shelves: favorites
5★
I have not written reviews of books I read prior to joining GR. In this case I wish to make an exception, although it's more of a homage.

My husband and I read this one out loud together over morning coffee. It is still one of the best human-reinventing-his-life-with-his-dog books I have ever read. I continued to follow Tom and Atticus' adventures through their blog and Facebook page. Anyone who loves dogs (especially miniature schnauzers), hiking, or heartwarming, life affirming adventures
...more
☮Karen
How can one help but love this 20 pound furbaby? This powerhouse known as Atticus M. Finch (love that), Little Buddha, or Little Giant in and around his home town of Newburyport, MA, led his best friend Tom Ryan hiking the White Mountains of New Hampshire, making history one winter summiting over 48 peaks in honor of a friend who had died of cancer. As Atticus and Tom reached each peak, they would pause at the summit and bond while gazing out at the beauty of the landscape. They grew famous and ...more
Linda Martin
May 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I don't usually read animal books and have no idea why this book got my attention---but I surely am glad it did. I don't have a dog and haven't wanted one, even though my friends say I need one for company. I always say, "No, I would rather not have anything to be responsible for." My time away from work is my own. Well, Tom Ryan you have almost changed my mind. Tom Ryan took a chance on getting a dog and it changed his outlook. Then Tom went on a journey "Following Atticus" and it changed his ...more
Beth Maddaus
Oct 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
"It's like looking into the face of God" is Tom's response as to what he sees when he and his little dog Atticus climb the rugged peaks of New Hampshire's 4000 footers. For Tom, and for his readers, the climb is more than an exciting adventure filled with difficult terrain, wildlife, and fearsome weather; the climb is about discovering who we were meant to be and how to find and nurture the inner self that leads us there.

I met Tom and Atticus on a trail one cool September morning in 2006. I had
...more
Cara
May 03, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The author's strong MA accent may have hindered my enjoyment of the book, but for whatever reason, I thought the book would never end. It's a nice little story, I suppose, but it's inflated to the point of self-indulgence, melodrama and sentimentality. I'm happy to move on.

That said, I did appreciate the quote he used from some excellent writers (Campbell, Wordsworth, other romantic poets.) The guy is clearly well-read, which always earns some respect from me.
Mike
Apr 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Miniature Schnauzer lovers
Shelves: not-for-me
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bryan Flagg
Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
First off, I must say I was one of the very lucky people to receive an advanced copy of this book. Tom Ryan has one of those gifts not given to all writers. He has that gift of being able to play with your emotions within a short span of time. He'll have you concerned, crying, excited, tense, crying again, yet smiling, and all before the chapter's end. Tom has allowed us in to a world of what some might think make believe, but in the White Mountains of NH, there is no make believe - it's all ...more
Maria
Sep 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: dog lovers
Recommended to Maria by: library
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was on the reader's choice table at the library, so I picked it up. It's about the author and his little dog and how the dog impacted his life and how he came to get the dog. It's a pretty good story. At first, it's about how he got the dog and how they became a part of each other's lives and how Atticus taught him a lot about himself. He's the editor/reporter of his own newspaper in a small city. Then he gets into hiking the mountains of New Hampshire, setting records in hiking all of ...more
Janice Nelson
Jul 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Received my book and could not put it down. So well written and moving, so honest without any nonsense that weighs it down. A book that goes beyond all other dog books and is a guide for life. Very well written, quite readable and soon to be a bestseller.

We have a home in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Tom's beautiful descriptions make me feel like I am there, even though I am stuck here in our boring Boston suburb instead. Cannot wait to get back to the mountains this weekend. He
...more
Karen
Aug 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Fortunate to have an ARC copy. Loving it so far! Great appeal here - not just for hikers. Animal lovers, those interested in family relationships, the small town newspaper business, and the ability and courage to make life style changes. Should appeal to fellow middle agers out there that anything is possible if you persevere and follow your dreams!

Finished the book in october. A fantastic read for people of all ages, both male and female! A privilege to have Tom and Atticus at our library! A
...more
Louis
Sep 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Before reading 'Following Atticus' I would suggest watching the video trailer for it. I was lucky enough to be at a recent book signing event on their tour and Tom has a wonderful soft spoken articulate tone that is nice to hear over the narrative of the book as you read.

I am a dog lover, my dogs are my best friends. I hike some of the White mountains with my dogs. This however, believe it or not, has nothing to do for how much I enjoyed Following Atticus. OK, maybe the dog part had an
...more
James Field
May 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Have you ever wondered why some people drop out of conventional society and flee to a life of isolation in the wilderness? In this novel, Tom Ryan explains with fascinating detail how and why it happened to him. It wasnt a sudden decision, but a gradual process inspired by his remarkable and tough little dog Atticus. Together, they headed for solitude in the mountains of New Hampshire, and the mountains seduced them in a way that changed their lives forever.

Tom Ryan was a newspaper editor which
...more
Melodie
Dec 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This story is one of the best examples of how animals can help bring about lasting positive change in the humans they connect with. Atticus M. Finch is a mini Schnauzer bred and born in Louisiana who becomes the companion to Tom Ryan, hundreds of miles away in New Hampshire. Tom is what I call a seeker, a middle-age man looking for meaning in his life, unwilling to relinquish his dreams.
They embark on their lives together and become the two of the most unlikely but inspirational winter hikers
...more
Cheryl
Sep 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Tom Ryan is owner, writer, and editor of his own newspaper. Mr. Ryans paper is called Undertoad. Mr. Ryan was not really in the mark for a dog when he became the new owner of a dog. A member of the citys zoning board had sent a mass email reaching out to everyone to see who could take a dog. Tom was going to just write back to he would be happy to advertise in his newspaper about the dog but the next thing Tom knows, he is responding that he will take the dog. Tom did not have Maxwell for very ...more
Diane
This was an ok read for me; I did love Atticus and Max (his predecesor) and I wanted to love Tom...but didn't. I guess he was likeable enough...

I enjoyed reading about the White Mountains in New Hampshire and I was reminded of my childhood. I also think Tom was very noble to make his climbs as fund raising efforts for cancer victims and survivors; and I was very touched how everyone was remembered (including Max) whenver he reached a peak. The relationship between Tom and his Dad was extremely
...more
Kathleen (Kat) Smith
Sep 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Middle-aged, and overweight, Tom Ryan and miniature schnauzer Atticus M. Finch are an unlikely pair of mountaineers, but after a close friend dies of cancer, the two pay tribute to her by attempting to climb all forty-eight of New Hampshire's four-thousand-foot peaks twice in one winter while raising money for charity.

In a rare test of endurance, Tom and Atticus set out on an adventure of a lifetime that takes them across hundreds of miles and deep into an enchanting but dangerous winter
...more
Lisa Litz-Neavear
May 02, 2012 rated it liked it
This book was a choice of the Dog Lovers' Book Club. I read more than half of it word-for-word, but skimmed the second half. This was tough for me to do, as I usually will finish a book I've already committed to! Perhaps because I have several novels waiting for me to read them, I just did not feel invested enough in Tom and Atticus to finish the journey. There was a sameness to the description of the mountains and their hikes. I'm wondering if I would have enjoyed this book more if I loved the ...more
Ryan
I'm the kind of guy who still cries when I watch Old Yeller. For that matter, Nestor, The Long Eared Christmas Donkey has me in tears every time I watch it. I even cried when they went deer hunting on Silver Spoons. Let's just say I'm a sucker for animals. So stick a cute dog on a cover, and I'm going to agree to anything you say, just so I can read the book.

Because of the adorable Atticus M. Finch on the cover, it was almost a sure bet that I was going to enjoy the book. What wasn't a given,
...more
Joyce
Aug 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Joyce by: I received an advanced reader's copy and have pre-ordered my own copy.
If you love the mountainsIf youve never seen a mountainIf you love the stillness of winterIf youve never seen a snowflakeIf you love the sound of wind through the treesIf youve never seen a forestIf you are surrounded by loved onesIf youve never felt connected to your familyIf you know exactly what you want in lifeIf youve never found your nicheIf you cry at anythingIf youve never shed a tearIf you love a dog or other creatureIf youve never had a petIf you have faithIf youve never found anything ...more
Holly Weiss
Nov 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Own. Re-read!

What a touching, heartwarming story. Overweight, out-of-shape newspaper owner Tom Ryan adopts a rescue dog, a miniature Schnauzer named Atticus. From the beginning, he treats Atticus as a friend, saying please and thank you. They begin walking and Tom finds Atticus a great inspiration for his better health routine. Tom is estranged from his family, but finally his brother invites Tom and Atticus to join him on a hike up Mount Garfield. The family becomes closer. To raise money for
...more
Michelle
Dec 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. While there are oodles of dog-related memoirs out there, this is definitely one of the better ones I've read. Yes, the book is about the dog Atticus, but it's more about how Atticus spurs the growth and transformation of the author, Tom Ryan. I loved that the author tied in the concept of pantheism and included some of my favorite quotes from naturalists like Thoreau.


From Amazon: "Middle-aged, overweight, and acrophobic newspaperman Tom Ryan and miniature schnauzer
...more
Donna
Oct 01, 2012 rated it really liked it

4.5 stars

This was such an unexpected surprise. I just needed a short audiobook, one that wasn't full of details and people to keep track of, to listen to while I finished laying the hardwood floors in our home office. I am so glad that I chose this one. It made the work go fast.

The story is about the author and how his dog ownership changed and shaped his life for the better. He and his 2 dogs basically formed a partnership based on true devotion. The author was able to accomplish so much good
...more
Noor G.
Nov 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is the first review I have written for this site. This book was extraordinary. I read it in two days (I would have read it faster had I not had other stuff to do). The book seemed like it would be a typical "animal book," but it was so much more than that: reconnecting with family, the wilderness, unconventional spirituality, finding one's self, classic literature, and love for animals.

The writing was easy to read, filled with small excerpts from classic authors like Thoreau, Frost, etc. I
...more
Trinia
Great story about a man and his dog. Truly well done, not too bogged down with details, just truly good writing and straight from the heart. A new favorite animal book for me!
Jluskin
Feb 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Following Atticus is about the extraordinary means by which one man searches for a clean slate. It is about the one, sumptuous breath drawn at the mountain top and about each labored breath taken to arrive there through arduous steps chosen, missteps forced, sidesteps required, back steps cursed, and every foot print followed to clarity. Tom Ryans Following Atticus is a lovingly and well-crafted story that brings us along the often treacherous mountain trails of New Hampshire in winter to the ...more
Danny Choriki
Sep 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading Following Atticus. Most importantly, it is a heart warming tale of about the redemptive nature of love, how it manifests itself in the mundane that sometimes comes from places that one would never expect, in this case, the casual reply to an email. I share with author Tom Ryan a love of mountains - including the White Mountains, journalism in a small town and small dogs with large personalities.

As a narrative, the story telling isn't overly compelling. This is most likely due
...more
Bob Connolly
May 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Following Atticus is the real life tale of middle-aged newspaper editor Tom Ryan and an extraordinary and lovable miniature schnauzer named Atticus M. Finch. Facing questions about his life and following the death of a beloved friend, Ryan and Atticus set out to climb all forty-eight of New Hampshires 4,000 foot peaks, twice, in the winter, to raise money for cancer. Can an overweight, tough-as-nails reporter and his twenty-five pound companion accomplish what most think to be an impossible ...more
Rebecca
Dec 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: dog
This book really reminded me of another book I read a few months ago about a blind guy and his dog. While the pair in this book was not a working relationship, the relationship that single men have with their dogs was. They treat their dogs like equals, not all lovey-dovey like girls might. And this was more the guys story, the dog just happened to be there. Guy, going through some hard things in his life unexpectedly gets a dog dropped into his lap. At first, he doesn't want it, but of course, ...more
Christina Tracey
Oct 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
This is definitely the best book Ive read in a long, long time. Tom Ryan takes the reader on an achingly personal yet amazing journey with "Following Atticus". This is not just a typical dog memoir, and its not just a story about the adversities of hiking the White Mountains of New Hampshire. This book shares with us wonderful life lessons taught by a little dog live in the moment, be close to nature, reflect, persevere when things get tough, give selflessly, love unconditionally. Atticus gently ...more
Christina Tracey
Oct 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is definitely the best book Ive read in a long, long time. Tom Ryan takes the reader on an achingly personal yet amazing journey with "Following Atticus". This is not just a typical dog memoir, and its not just a story about the adversities of hiking the White Mountains of New Hampshire. This book shares with us wonderful life lessons taught by a little dog live in the moment, be close to nature, reflect, persevere when things get tough, give selflessly, love unconditionally. Atticus gently ...more
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