I recently finished A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. I couldn’t put this book down! If you are looking for a book filled with humor (the kind that makes you laugh uncontrollably out loud-even in a waiting room), and details what it’s like to hike the Appalachian Trail in middle-age, this is the book to read.
Bill finds a trail near his home, explores it, and consequently decides to hike the Appalachian Trail. He does the necessary research, and purchases all the gear for his long hike. As the date nears for him to begin his trip, he is understandably apprehensive, after reading numerous accounts of bear attacks and other mishaps that have occurred on the AT. At the last minute his old friend Katz, who he has not seen in years, decides to accompany him on his trek.
Katz is quite a character. He makes numerous rash decisions which left me shocked, and made me belly laugh simultaneously. My mental image of Katz—wild eyed, unkempt, a touch of Tourettes, generally clumsy and easily pissed off—is not unlike my rescue miniature schnauzer who has had a rough past, has a multitude of issues, and is generally leery of life. Chuckle.
The juxtaposition of Katz and Bryson is comical gold. Bryson is patient, driven, and on a mission. Katz is reactive, struggling, yet still committed to their journey. Along the trail, they deal with numerous challenges and incidents.
I appreciated Bill Bryson’s interjection of facts and statistics throughout the book, including the history of the trail and specific places on the trail. It was eye opening, and made me feel like I was there. It made me care about the AT trail and its longevity, and the environment, and its future.
My husband and I day hiked portions of this trail on our honeymoon. If I ever consider hiking through, this book provides good insight to that experience. It didn’t discourage me from ever wanting to through hike. It actually spurred my interest in doing so in the future, even with the sparse conditions.
I appreciated the honest, humorous descriptions of Bryson and Katz’s hikes, their humility, mishaps, and encounters with fellow hikers. This book made me laugh, think, and want to have more adventures. I will also be reading more Bill Bryson books, which won’t be difficult as he has many. To that statement, I have had frequent hikes, and have started a new Bill Bryson book, which I am enjoying.
How about you? Have you read A Walk in the Woods? How would you rate this book? Let us know in the comments. Did you find this review helpful? Join the Hiking Is Fun newsletter that features inspiring stories, hiking tips, and exclusive content to help keep you hiking!