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

(Bryson and Katz #2)

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  371,414 ratings  ·  19,349 reviews
The Appalachian 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 the oth ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 397 pages
Published December 26th 2006 by Anchor Books (first published May 5th 1998)
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Jeff Gilpin In my experience, once a person starts to read, regardless of their age, they find their own reading direction. Their reading journey takes them place…moreIn my experience, once a person starts to read, regardless of their age, they find their own reading direction. Their reading journey takes them places well meaning adults, who find it their business to determine what is and is not appropriate for young impressionable minds, would rather they not go. I don't believe younger readers will quite understand the story from Mr. Bryson's point of view, but they will still enjoy the story and more than likely come back to reread once they're older.(less)
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 ·  371,414 ratings  ·  19,349 reviews

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Jan 31, 2007 rated it did not like it
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
Jul 24, 2011 rated it liked it
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
May 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Anne by: Jeff
I kind of surprised I liked this book at all, because:
a) I read pathetically little non-fiction
b) I've never read a travelogue
I'm only a fan of the Great Outdoors as long as I'm safely Indoors.


So, color me shocked that I not only finished this, but giggled my way through quite a bit of it! Bryson really is a pretty funny writer, and the way he captured his experience on the Appalachian Trail had me in tears a few times. His fears about getting mauled by a bear (among other things) befor
Nov 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: travel
I am a huge fan of hiking. My friends and I, several times a year, will take trips out to random State and National Parks. We spend a great deal of time out in the woods and any sort of nature. It is not only enjoyable and relaxing but good to stay in shape. But then again my friends and I are all people who are very comfortable n the woods, due to our military backgrounds.

Then there are these two. *sigh* Is the book funny? Yes...that humor and the interesting history about the Appalachian Trail
J.L.   Sutton
Mar 21, 2016 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail. Not sure what I was expecting from this—perhaps more about hiking on the actual AT and the reasons Bryson made this trek—but I was mostly disappointed. It read like a series of travel brochures: here’s the history of the region on this section of the trail, and now another…There was much more attention devoted to towns along the route than hiking the actual trail. It was also disappointing that Br ...more
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm no city mouse. I'm a country mouse who lives in jeans and who often has a thick layer of soil under her nails from gardening. But, when compared to my brother, I feel like Beyoncé.

My brother is like. . . Inman, from Cold Mountain. A man who walks and walks, all over Appalachia.

He knows how to forage for food and how to identify what is good and what is bad, out in nature. I can point to anything within the plant kingdom, and he knows its name. He composts all of his own waste and leaves a ve
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 humor
Dec 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Definitely read the book if you're a fan of the outdoors and hiking. I learned about the book after watching the movie, and let me say, the book to me was much better. ...more
Nov 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, travel
Travel writing does not get any better or any funnier than this. This is Bill Bryson at his very best,side splittingly funny.

Bill Bryson sets out with his friend Katz to hike the Appalachian trail. The trail is picturesque,but for two men in their forties,it is still hard work.

As he always does,Bryson digs up a whole lot of background detail and trivia about the trail. It's first rate entertainment. Katz may not be the ideal hiking companion but provides plenty of humour.

There are lively encount
Apr 28, 2011 rated it did not like it
Bill Bryson is extremely annoying. I started out liking this book, but the further I went along, the more obnoxious I found the author's smarter-than-thou attitude. And that's a shame, too, because I was very interested in the subject matter and had the impression that Bryson wrote with a comedic edge. However, his sense of humor turns out to be quite bland, and consists mostly of making fun of everyone he meets. Get ready for adjectives like "stupid" and "fat" ... very high-brow. And don't worr ...more
Apr 27, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ken-ichi by: Maggi
Shelves: naturalism, nature, travel
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
Miranda Reads
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Well, scratch the Appalachian Trail off my bucketlist.

Bryson sets off to walk the Appalachian trail with only an extremely overpriced backpack (packed with equally ridiculously expensive gear), an old "friend" that he hadn't talked to in years and a will to find his next story. He quickly realized that the months of preparation he conducted (and the lack of months his friend prepared) were not nearly adequate. But on the plus side, he certainly found his story.

As always, I absolutely enjoyed h
Oct 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, humor
Going into this book, I really had no idea of what to expect from Bill Bryson. Even though I picked this book up based on Diane’s terrific review (, I had never read the author before and let’s face it - blurbs on the cover only tell you so much. You have to read and live with an author’s prose to get a feel for it. As far as travelogues go, I don’t read many: Paul Theroux, Mark Twain and Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley are the only ones that come to min ...more
Jason Koivu
Apr 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, travel
A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail pressed all my favorite buttons: Humor. Adventure. Danger. Storytelling. Nature. Local/personal interest. Et cetera.

I even liked that the author Bill Bryson is a American-Brit ex-pat/transplant and thus an outsider giving his opinion as a stranger in a strange land. Bryson's humorous, well-researched, yet relaxed writing is what I always hope for when embarking upon a book like this.

A trek upon the Appalachian Trail is supposed
When I chose this book I failed to understand the author’s intention. Look at the subtitle! I hadn't noted the words "Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail". This book is not for people who love hiking; it is not intended to increase love of the sport. It scarcely shows the pleasure one can derive from hiking. It is instead a commentary on America with some details about the Appalachian Trail. I have to admit my own fault in not carefully reading the complete title. I still must rate ac ...more
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

After reading A Man Called Ove last week, I was afraid nothing would compare and I’d be stuck in book hangover mode unless I picked something totally different from what I normally read. I decided to go to the library website incognito in order to not get the typical porny recommendations made “just for me” and get the generally recommended ones instead.

Obviously A Walk In The Woods was a book that appeared on the list and I remem
Nov 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I chose this book in hopes it would rekindle my appetite for hiking. The book easily did that.

I also found this to be such a pleasurable read. I looked forward at every stolen opportunity to read another chapter. It delivered each time.
Nandakishore Mridula
In "A Walk in the Woods", Bryson narrates his experiences on the Appalachian Trail which stretches 2000+ miles from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine, passing through eleven states and populated with all kinds of peril imaginable. As Bryson says

The woods were full of peril - rattlesnakes and water moccasins and nests of copperheads; bobcat, bears, coyotes, wolves, and wild boar; loony hillbillies destabilized by gross quantities of impure corn liquor and generations of prof
May 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Mark Porton
Feb 19, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: funny, non-fiction
Bill Bryson’s – A Walk in the Woods follows Bryson as he and his old mate, Katz, attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail. This endeavour is no small thing, the AT is a 2,000 + mile hiking trail up and down the East coast of the US, linking Georgia in the South to Maine in the North. It traverses around 11 states and is one of the most popular and well-known walking trails around.

This book started off in true Bryson style – I guffawed at the pages at times. I find Bryson very funny, and when he’s o
Sep 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 17, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
“I don’t recall a moment in my life when I was more acutely aware of how providence has favored the land to which I was born.” (3.5 stars)

This is a book that a lot of people love. I just liked it. I found that it did not hold my attention for long periods. It is the fourth Bill Bryson text I have read, and I’ll read more. But not because of this one.
In “A Walk in the Woods” Bill Bryson attempts to walk the Appalachian Trail with a childhood friend. The book documents that attempt, and mixes in s
Riku Sayuj
Aug 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  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.
Paul E. Morph
Apr 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let me just get this out of the way first: Sorry, Trish! I couldn't help myself! I have no willpower! I am officially the world's worst buddy reader!

Right, as for the book... I enjoyed it. The only Bryson I've read before this was his book about hiking in my native UK and, perhaps because this book deals with territory I'm a lot less familiar with, I preferred this one. I enjoyed Bryson's wry, despairing sense of humour. I enjoyed his interactions with his walking-buddy, Katz (not sure of the sp
Mikey B.
Nov 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
With the never-ending pandemic and the turmoil of the U.S. presidential elections I felt I could use some Bill Bryson!

He is a writer filled with versatility. This book is on the Appalachian trail stretching all the way from Georgia right up into Maine. But the book is more than that – there are marvelous disquisitions on the flora and fauna and the geology of the region and some of the very informative people he met. And be warned – do not read this book in public unless you want to induce stare
Dec 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
It's the longest armchair hike I've ever taken and I've enjoyed every minute of it. I know I will never do this for real so this is next best. I enjoyed reading about the history of the AT and all the other stories that BB included in the report of his adventures. ...more
Carole (Carole's Random Life)
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life.

I am terribly disappointed by the fact that I did not fall in love with this book. When I was choosing a book to read, I took one look at the ratings for this book on Goodreads and knew that I had to read this book right away. Seriously, every single one of my friends on Goodreads gave this book either a 4 or 5 star rating. And they said it was funny. I love funny. I knew that I would just love this book.

I didn't love it. I was actually bored
J.K. Grice
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Pure Bryson delight, as well as an informative history about the Appalachian Trail. Although I could never imagine Robert Redford portraying Bill Bryson, the film version is pretty funny, with Nick Nolte adding great comic relief. Highly recommended.
Olive Fellows (abookolive)
Mar 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
I discussed this book and its movie adaptation over on Booktube! ...more
David Rubenstein
May 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I love Bill Bryson's books, and this one is no exception. Bryson tells the story of his hiking up the Appalachian Trail (AT for short) with his friend, Stephen Katz. His friend is quite a character, and I sort of wonder if he is a real person, or if he is "invented". But--Katz is such a wonderful character, he is probably real, because "inventing" him would be nearly impossible. He is a recovering alcoholic, overweight sort of slob who throws out his irreplaceable supplies when the going gets to ...more
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William McGuire "Bill" Bryson, OBE, FRS 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, Bil

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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.” 215 likes
“Distance changes utterly when you take the world on foot. A mile becomes a long way, two miles literally considerable, ten miles whopping, fifty miles at the very limits of conception. The world, you realize, is enormous in a way that only you and a small community of fellow hikers know. Planetary scale is your little secret.

Life takes on a neat simplicity, too. Time ceases to have any meaning. When it is dark, you go to bed, and when it is light again you get up, and everything in between is just in between. It’s quite wonderful, really.

You have no engagements, commitments, obligations, or duties; no special ambitions and only the smallest, least complicated of wants; you exist in a tranquil tedium, serenely beyond the reach of exasperation, “far removed from the seats of strife,” as the early explorer and botanist William Bartram put it. All that is required of you is a willingness to trudge.

There is no point in hurrying because you are not actually going anywhere. However far or long you plod, you are always in the same place: in the woods. It’s where you were yesterday, where you will be tomorrow. The woods is one boundless singularity. Every bend in the path presents a prospect indistinguishable from every other, every glimpse into the trees the same tangled mass. For all you know, your route could describe a very large, pointless circle. In a way, it would hardly matter.

At times, you become almost certain that you slabbed this hillside three days ago, crossed this stream yesterday, clambered over this fallen tree at least twice today already. But most of the time you don’t think. No point. Instead, you exist in a kind of mobile Zen mode, your brain like a balloon tethered with string, accompanying but not actually part of the body below. Walking for hours and miles becomes as automatic, as unremarkable, as breathing. At the end of the day you don’t think, “Hey, I did sixteen miles today,” any more than you think, “Hey, I took eight-thousand breaths today.” It’s just what you do.”
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