A Walk in the Woods

By Bill Bryson,

Book cover of A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

Book description

From the author of "Notes from a Small Island" and "The Lost Continent" comes this humorous report on his walk along the Appalachian Trail. The Trail covers 14 states and over 2000 miles, and stretches along the east coast of America from Maine in the north to Georgia in the…

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Why read it?

7 authors picked A Walk in the Woods as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I bought this book 3 times. Bryson’s self-deprecating humor and vibrant descriptions of his trek along the Appalachian Trail with his friend are hilarious. I love a book that makes me laugh and also teaches me something new. I liked the book so much I lent it to my neighbor, and of course, never got it back. (Don’t lend your books.) So, I bought it again. I was carrying it around with me and I left it in a doctor’s office waiting room. I called them the next day. They said they didn’t see it. (Liars, every one of them.)…

From Deborah's list on making you laugh and love traveling.

Bill Bryson is best known for his humorous travel stories, so when he teams up with an old buddy to take on the Appalachian Trail with almost no outdoors experience between them, you know it’s going to be a bumpy and hilarious ride! I found it an inspirational tale, not because they rise to the occasion (they don’t really), but because it shows that you don’t have to be an outdoors expert to enjoy the wilderness and challenge yourself. It isn’t about finishing the journey, it’s about starting it. As someone who has been known to trip over tree roots…

This is non-fiction, but in Bryson’s capable hands, even the most serious of issues can be deliriously funny. Bryson is astoundingly capable of making any subject interesting, be it the workings of the human body to the development of the English language. Here, we follow him and a friend on a somewhat misguided attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail, with digressions into everything from how chestnut trees went extinct in this country to the strange fact that so many of our cities are built without pedestrians in mind. (Bryson drives this point home poignantly yet hilariously with an extremely funny…

An unfit, unprepared 44-year-old travel writer decides to hike the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail accompanied by his overweight, perpetually irritated recovering alcoholic friend. Staggering beneath backpacks loaded with the wrong food and equipment, they head into the woods and I enthusiastically followed. I didn't mind that it was more of a slow trudge than a wild ride, or that the only looming dangers were rain, snow, and mud—I was too busy enjoying descriptions of the land, the history of the trail, and the duo's grouchy and hilarious ineptitude.

Bryson makes us all laugh. His years in England baked in a dry, straight-man humor to complement his midwestern goofiness, and brings home a basket of laughter in every chapter. From the pithy title of the book (for such an ominous adventure) through a fabulous story of endurance, his need to walk 2,100 miles is often questioned internally without a quality answer. “Because it is there” is a sentiment for those with a screw loose, and one I resonate with and deeply admire. 

In this absolute classic, the author describes his efforts to hike the Appalachian Trail as a pudgy, past-his-prime Dad. It functions as a master class in how to present reality with precision-engineered comic timing (and even more perfect grammar/sentence construction). Bryson also demonstrates his rare ability to enliven a dull setting by delving into its history to find those nuggets of weirdness that bring a place to life. Some of his other books are more ambitious, more educational, and at times funnier, but the clean framing makes this the quintessential Bryson read.

Bryson is a master at creating humour within his adventurous books. A Walk in the Woods, is both relatable as well as inspiring as it tells the story of two middle-aged friends who walk the Appalachian Trail through America. Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, but they didn’t have to eat each other and lived to tell the tale.

Spoiler alert: as a writer, I was most inspired by how Bryson created a fictitious friend to hike with. His very own alter ego embodying all the bad, lazy, and unfortunate qualities of his own character. What a…

From Tim's list on adventure, hiking, and survival.

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