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


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Bill Bryson

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message 1: by Kristy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:33PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kristy This guy makes me laugh out loud. I liked this one the best, but am reading Down Under right now and it is almost as funny - his travels through Europe one was laugh out loud as well. Anyone know any other authors that are like Bryson - would love to check them out


Paula Try Augusten Burroughs.


message 3: by Dan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dan Augusten Burroughs is nothing like Bill Bryson. Bryson is dry, witty and informative. Burroughs is much more of an emotional driven author. I completely disagree with your recommendation.


Amanda I've enjoyed all his books. Have you listened to him read any of his books on cd or tape? They are the best. Ordinarily the author is not the best choice to read the book - but Bryson is fabulous, the tone is just what you think it should be.
I've known some people who've through-hiked the trail and they tend to be so serious and intense about it - I LOVED that Bryson isn't. I know he exaggerates wildly, but the fact that he looks at everything through such a skewed lens just cracks me up.



Riko Stan Patrick Mcmanus has a series of humorous books that are in the same vein as Bill's work, but Bill's work feels more real.


Todd I recommend Will Ferguson.


Alison Had to read this for book Club, I never would have picked this book. I hate camping, I was pleasantly suprised by Bill Bryson's writing . I found him funny and entertaining. I really enjoyed the book and would reccomend it.


message 8: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue Schell Calvin Trillin...hmmm, I'm going to check out his work. Thanks for the recommendation.


message 9: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue Schell I should quickly relate, something that Bill Bryson wrote in the book, A Walk in the Woods. We were staying in our family Chalet up in Gatlinburgh, TN. Actually, it backs up to The Smokey MTS. National Park. I was sitting on the deck w/ my two small dogs, and the one dog kept fussing, so I would look around and not see anything, so I kept reading and eating my bowl of cherries. Well, Lily kept moaning, very annoyingly, so I stood up and turned my gaze to the right and looked into the eyes of this big black mama bear and right next to her, I could see movement up in the tree and knew it was her cub. So as we have now locked eyes, (thankfully) I recalled Breyson saying, if you every lock eyes with a bear, the first thing you do, is drop your gaze. I did and it worked, myself and our two dogs got inside of the house,without incident. Now here is another end to this story, on June 23rd our very sweet house got hit by lightening and burned down. It's all gone now, but my memories of that wonderful location...bears n'all.


message 10: by HJ (new) - rated it 3 stars

HJ I endorse Amanda's recommendation for Bill Bryson's recordings of his books. I first "read" A Walk in the Woods listening to it in the car. I was stuck in a traffic jam on the motorway and realised I was getting some very strange looks from other drivers as I sat there crying with laughter...

I much prefer to listen to his books than to read them, now.

Sue - I hope you left the cherries for the bear. And commiserations on the loss of your chalet.


Saruseth A walk in the woods, It was like i was watching a hilarious movie but i took i few minutes nap while the boring bits came, details, details, he can cut back a little on that. Overall... loved it.


message 12: by Becky (new) - added it

Becky In a Sunburned Country is complete, pure, unadulterated genius from start to finish. My husband and I still read sections of this out loud to eachother. Bryson is an original.


Grandmadee Goodwin I listened to this audio book while dear hubby was sleeping....ummmm...I listened to this book while DEar Hubby was TRYING to sleep next to me. He kept dreaming he put quarters in a hotel bed. I laughed so hard! One of my avorite audio books.


message 14: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue Schell Sue wrote: "If you are still thinking of walking the Appalacian Trail, let me recommend you climb to the summit of Clingman's Dome, which is mentioned in Bryson's book, A Walk in the Woods. It has been a while and I can't recall what the elevation is, but you do not have to be an experienced mountain climber to reach the top, and the view is very gratifying once you're getting that view.

Can anyone recommend another Bryson book that is equal or near equal to A Walk in the Woods. I can'
t remember which book I tried, but it was not all that good in my opinion. It left me feeling disappointed after loving the Woods Walking book and perhaps I was expected something to live up to that hilarious read, which is why I was disappointed?
So any recommendations will be appreciated?
Best, Sue



Schawn schoepke Bryson is great. A wonderful real life wit wrapped in knowledge. I love being educated and entertained at the same time and he does it well.....


Rachel I loved A Short History of Nearly Everything. I picked it up not really knowing anything about Bryson, and only because I thought I should read something about science since I knew nothing about it. I went into it with no expectations, half expecting to put it down 20 pages in with a "Well, I tried!" But it sucked me in, and was so entertaining and informative that it's one of my favorite books now. I actually read A Walk in the Woods afterwards, and while I enjoyed it, I didn't like it anywhere near ASHONE. When the illustrated edition came out, I ran and bought it immediately!


message 17: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue Schell Rachel wrote: "I loved A Short History of Nearly Everything. I picked it up not really knowing anything about Bryson, and only because I thought I should read something about science since I knew nothing about i..."

Thanks for that info, Rachel. I'm going to pick that book up and look forward to reading it! Best, Sue


message 18: by Erin (new) - rated it 5 stars

Erin Leary Bill Bryson is a genius. I was certain of this until I read his Shakespeare brochure. He must have needed the money.


message 19: by Cats (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cats 274 The first Bryson's book I ever read was Notes from a small island. Incidentally, I read it on a flight to UK. I continued to read it on a train and I can say one thing - it's not a train book, believe me, because I laughed out loud so many times that people around me became upset :D

A Walk in the Woods is also a good one, definitely - my copy is so often being lent to friends that I'm sometimes surprised to see it on the shelf.

And the story of the scientific method of knowing the difference between brown bears and grizlies is hillarious!


message 20: by Tom (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom This book is both hilarious and informative. I can recall reading it out loud in the car as we drove to the Hiawassee trail head one day in January a few years ago to take a short hike (about 2 miles in and back). Driving down the winding mountain road, we could understand Bryson's amazing story of hitching a ride with drunken newlyweds.


Robin I didn't like the part about the girls who got murdered in their tents, that is reality, but he kept referring to it.


message 22: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue Schell CATS... I cannot wait to pick up Notes From a Small Island by Bryson.

Ok, maybe I should just ask people? Is there any Bryson book that they would not recommend? I remember buying one, years ago, and was soooooooooooooo disappointed, and cannot remember its name. Knowing what a great writer he is, even real good writers can be allowed a clunker now and then, eh? If someone can identify a bad Bryson book that they suffered through, I wouldn't be surprised if it was the same book I'm thinking of and I will immediately remember that book's name!


message 23: by Tom (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tom At Home: A Short History of Private Life. It was interesting at first, but after the first few chapters it seemed to drone on and on, without focus. I could not finish it.

TM


message 24: by Cats (new) - rated it 5 stars

Cats 274 Sue, I'm sure you'll enjoy Mrs Smegma a lot ;)

At Home is really the one that sort of dissapointed me a bit - not because the book is not good, but because the standards were set high and this one is not as funny as the other books. Bryson spoiled us, that's it.


Robin At Home was pretty good, just a lot of information. Some parts were better than others. He is the wonder guy of trivial knowledge not like it is a bad thing.


message 26: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue Schell Tom wrote: "At Home: A Short History of Private Life. It was interesting at first, but after the first few chapters it seemed to drone on and on, without focus. I could not finish it.

TM"


That's it! That was the name of the book that I found unfunny and not a good Bryson read. Anyone want to borrow it? Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!


message 27: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue Schell Sue wrote: "I should quickly relate, something that Bill Bryson wrote in the book, A Walk in the Woods. We were staying in our family Chalet up in Gatlinburgh, TN. Actually, it backs up to The Smokey MTS. Nati..."

Talk about shameless marketing?....Has anyone checked out my book, A SIMPLICITY REVOLUTION: FINDING HAPPINESS IN THE NEW REALITY? I was just wondering how successful you thought my humor was, keeping in mind I'm writing about some pretty heavy topics like the growing disparity in income that tears at the social fabric of America's society?
Any comments would be appreciated, that is if you've read the book. Best, Sue


message 28: by Glen (new) - rated it 5 stars

Glen read it and enjoy a good laugh.


message 29: by Sue (new) - rated it 4 stars

Sue Schell Thanks, Glen. During these crummy economic times, it was my intent to report on the changes our culture is facing in the new global economy we live in. Of course, knowing how many people have been seriously economically injured, the last thing I wanted to do is have a book that didn't offer some different ideas for approaching these difficult times. In other words, I wanted to always keep the book upbeat!


message 30: by Nora (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nora Bryson's transparency is as hilarious as his adventures.


Smilebuda He truly is a funny guy; even in such novels as Mother Tongue, Made in America and a Short history of nearly everything where the topic matter has a propensity for dryness he keeps them lively with anecdotal humor.


David Although this book is factual and well researched, it is falling on the floor funny.


Silvio111 Kristy wrote: "This guy makes me laugh out loud. I liked this one the best, but am reading Down Under right now and it is almost as funny - his travels through Europe one was laugh out loud as well. Anyone know..."

I like John McPhee's THE PINE BARRENS. It is not funny like Bryson's work, but it has a wonderful vignette of McPhee wandering through the woods (in the 1970s...) and stopping at a cabin to ask for a drink of water. He is met at the door by a man with a pork chop in hand and a knife and a raw onion in the other. This little incident alone makes the whole book worthwhile. And of course, the New Jersey history that this Jersey girl was unaware of her whole life until she had to discover it in a Baltimore library!!

Also, sadly, the New Jersey Pine Barrens no longer are the wilderness that they were, so it's nice to read about it in this account.


Barbara I love Bill Bryson. "In A Sunburned Country" is the book I enjoyed the most.


Rachel I just picked up Seeing Further: The Story of Science, Discovery, and the Genius of the Royal Society which is composed of several essays by different authors and is edited by Bill Bryson! Soooo excited!! All because of the love I have for ASHONE. I've been waiting for this to come out in paperback for some time now. :)


Natalie No one's chimed this in, but you MUST try his The Thunderbolt Kid. I'm missing a few words in the title, I'm sure, but it's wonderful. He ribs his life growing up in Iowa, family vacations, and then all sort of interesting stuff, too, Bikini Atoll, all sorts of stuff. I love how he transitions into and out of so many topics.


Schawn schoepke Natalie wrote: "No one's chimed this in, but you MUST try his The Thunderbolt Kid. I'm missing a few words in the title, I'm sure, but it's wonderful. He ribs his life growing up in Iowa, family vacations, and t..."

Totally agree a great read.....


Shannon Bryson is smart and funny!


message 39: by Ron (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ron Natalie wrote: "No one's chimed this in, but you MUST try his The Thunderbolt Kid. I'm missing a few words in the title, I'm sure, but it's wonderful. He ribs his life growing up in Iowa, family vacations, and t..."

Agreed, that book was great. As a late baby boomer I could relate to a lot of that book, even though it's about a decade before my own timeline.


Natalie Same here. I was born in the 1960's, but I could still relate and was thinking so much of what he described was applicable to older people I know.

I love how he slips in a cool, unusual history lesson into his prose, too.


Bonnie E. Bryson's Neither Here Nor There is hilarious. And A Walk in the Woods actually inspired me and a friend to trek out along the Appalachian Trail (for 40 - 50 miles anyway and our experiences weren't nearly the same as his). Bryson is able to turn me into a twisted pretzel of giggles. Other authors who have done this are Dave Barry, Oscar Wilde, and Bill Crosby.


Lubna I loved this book. Whenever, I crave for peace, I turn to this book and re-read it. Another author whose books I turn to, to find peace, is Ruskin Bond. Somehow stories of long walks in the woods (or the Himalayan range as in the case of Ruskin Bond's books), amidst nature, helps me find my grounding again. This book had me chuckle, but I like it best for the calming effect it has on me.


Natalie Perfect for bringing camping. Talk about giggling in the tent!


Creatingalan Black having only walked a few short portions of the trail though dreamed about walking the entire trail some day I found this book very interesting to read.

Bryson does his research.


message 45: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim I read it quite a few years ago, but the one thing I remember was that bear scene. It was and still is the funniest scene in a book that I have ever read!


message 46: by Mary (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mary Ann Also, I found some of the stories hilarious since we had a friend walking it at the time. I laughed out loud when he was picked up in a car and squeezed into the back seat like. A T-Rex.


Creatingalan Black Of the dozen or so Bryson books the one I would recommend that you borrow from a library not buy is AT HOME:

The first few chapters about his home that he bought were interesting then it became tedious for me.

I didn't enjoy parts of Small Island or the Europe book because I had extensively traveled where he traveled and I found most of his humor or complaints as sarcastic.

When I was planning my first trip completely around the world I was going to spend 2 weeks week in NZ and 4 weeks in AUS. I read Sunburned Country along with several other books about the history and contemporary life of Australia. The only part of that book I found incorrect or simply wrong in the way it described the area was the part about the capital of AUS, Canberra.

Having spent time there I wondered why he didn't get out of his hotel or the central area and see the actual city and not just plop down in the hotel bar and complain about the entire city based on a minimal number of actual in person experiences.

The SkyRocket Kid book was one of the funniest, where his previous sarcasim seemed to disappear. At least from my perspective.


message 48: by [deleted user] (new)

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 think him, quite possibly, mad. This happens whenever I read Edward Abbey, John Muir, Thoreau, or Lewis and Clark. My spirit guides command me to wilderness adventure. My family responds in unanimous Greek chorus, “the woods are lovely dark and deep, but you have promises to keep.”

So instead, I settled for a book about a comic attempt by two guys (like me) in their forties to hike the 2,200 mile Appalachian Trail during the spring/summer of 1997. Even as I laughed out loud, I wept silently for all that I have missed and all that has already been lost. I so badly wanted to be with Bryson and Katz, congenial trailmates both.

Afoot and light-hearted, we take to the open road. The pace is leisurely. We pause to study flora, fauna, geology, and regional lore. We meet a few crackpots along the way. Sometimes Bryson gets to preachin'. (He does not like the U.S. Forest Service, and the good citizens and tourists of Gatlinburg, TN, do not want to know what Bryson thought of them 15 years ago.)

Very quickly, I begin to have my doubts as to whether we are going to actually make the South-North (SONO thru-hike) to Mt. Kathadin before the snow makes New England impassable.

The hardest parts of the trail include: The Hundred-Mile Wilderness through dense forests and swollen rivers of northern Maine (so remote you need 10-day’s worth of food and water, which you must lug along with all gear); New Hampshire’s White Mountains (alpine and sub alpine elevations and erratic weather invite unexpected hypothermia even in summer). Pennsylvania’s rocky trail (“Rocksylvania”) makes it particularly dangerous to ankles. The Smoky Mountains, although scenic, are uncommonly steep for the east coast and limited accommodations must be shared with a multitude of tourists. Forget the bears, rodents in the shelters are the biggest threat from the animal kingdom.

This is not your ancestors’ U.S. Eastern forest. The AT is wilder today than when it was first blazed back in the 1920's because the government seized the surrounding farms, which reverted to the wild. Asian blight wiped out the Chestnut trees at the beginning of the century, killing one-fourth of all trees in the eastern USA. The ghost-town of Centralia, PA, was built upon anthracite coal deposits that have been burning underground for 50 years and will continue to burn for at least 250 more years making the surrounding land uninhabitable. ( I was astounded to learn that 50,000 U.S. miners were killed between the U.S. Civil War and World War I.)

It has long been a dream of mind to thru-hike the AT. Whenever it’s a damp, drizzly November in my soul, my heart takes to the wilderness, while my body remains imprisoned in comfort, convenience, circumstance, and inertia. Call me Ishmael.

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Peter Kelley Bryson writes the funniest stuff I've ever read. But I much prefer his earlier travel and language related pieces to his more recent works. Even Bryson has trouble making the history of houses consistently interesting. I would highly recommend The Lost Continent, however--laugh out loud funny from the first paragraph.


Parthena I can read or listen to Bill Bryson's books over and over again. The only other author I can read like that is David Sedaris. His writing is very different but he makes me laugh the same way Bryson does. And he does the reading for his audio books and does it very well, like Bryson.


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