Rummanah Aasi
  After reading a few lackluster titles, I wanted to read something funny that had depth. When I first read a book by David Sedaris (who's incredibly hilarious by the way), many people recommended that I should pick up Bill Bryson. I bought his book, A Walk in the Woods, at a book sale and then it sat on my shelf for many months until now. It definitely fulfilled my void and it was highly entertaining.

Description: Bryson share his experiences hiking the Appalachian Trail with a childhood friend. The two encounter eccentric characters, a blizzard, getting lost, and rude yuppies along the way.

Review: A Walk in the Woods is a smart, funny travel book that also manages to tackle some important issues without ever being heavy or didactic. Bryson, who was born in Iowa, moved to England and gained most of his hiking experience along that country's friendly trails from village to village and pub to pub. He is an experienced travel writer and he decided to tackle the 2200-mile trail from Georgia to Maine with his overweight, ex-alcoholic hiking partner Stephen Katz. Bryson suddenly realizes that his British hiking experiences are completely different from his American one. The book comprises of the hiker's poignant observations and their experiences along the Appalachian Trail (AT). I laughed several times while reading this book, particularly when the two men yelled at cursed at each other and themselves for taking on a ridiculous endeavor, much like myself when I start my workout, hating every minute and counting down the time when I can stop.
  Similarly, Bryson and Katz struggle along a part of the southern trail and then abandon the whole idea when they admitted they could under no circumstances complete the journey just by hiking. Bryson drives down and samples parts of the remaining AT, such as the Pennsylvania coal country, and finally he and Katz decide to give it another chance and set out into the 100-mile wilderness of Maine. Their constant badgering about food (i.e. what the did/didn't pack, who ate all of it, what are they going to do when it runs out, etc) had me in stitches and me realize that I'm not well equipped on going camping at all. Their journey is shaky to say the least and coupled by some bizarre people they meet along the way including a rude yuppies and an airhead American twenty year old who has absolutely no clue how stupid she sounds when she speaks.
  The book's biggest strength is its humor, but Bryson also manages to intersperse his observations on the environmental damage along selected portions of the trail, which us pause to think how much we take advantage of the environment around us. He also includes some really interesting history on both of the trail itself and the areas of the eastern mountains through which it winds. I didn't think these discussion chapters were abrupt, but rather added an additional depth to the story along with drinking problem that Katz struggles with. I would definitely recommend this book to people who enjoy humorous novels but also want depth. I also think this would be a great book to listen to on a road trip where you can commiserate along with our incompetent traveling heroes. 

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong language and crude humor. Marketed toward adults but I think it's suitable for teens in high school.

If you like this book try: Walking to Vermont by Christopher Wren, French Lessons by Peter Mayle
5 Responses
  1. I love Bill Bryson. I haven't read this one but always meant to. You should read his book about Australia. I was almost crying a few times, it was so funny.


  2. Missie Says:

    This is not something I'd normally read at all, but I've been meaning to try something by this author. I first hear about him through Alison, up there. LOL

    The humor sounds great!


  3. Jenny Says:

    Love that the environmental message and observations are a bit more subtle in nature and mixed in with lots of humor. I always take a message more to heart when it's not thrown in my face but threaded through in a way that just sticks with me:)


  4. Normally, I'd probably avoid this one, especially because I've never gone camping (bugs and me are a big fat no way). But you've made me really curious about this one since it made you laugh a lot.


  5. I LOVE BILL BRYSON!! I had no idea he had written a book about the AT. When my dad was in grad school, he and some friends hiked part of the AT, he has some strange stories.
    This also sounds like one of my dad's canoeing trip that went drastically wrong. I had warned him that a storm was coming in but he didn't believe me. Needless to say, three college professors ended up spending the weekend in a state park men's bathroom because of the rain (amongst other problems). I'm definitely getting this book for my dad, it's perfect!!


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