Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Good Reads: A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

I recently wrote about the three longest hiking trails in the continental U.S. Of the three, I'm most familiar with the Appalachian Trail simply because I've read a number of accounts by people who have hiked -- or attempted to hike -- that trail. I'm going back through my library now re-reading some of those, and the very first one I picked up was A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail, by Bill Bryson.

Some of you may know Bill Bryson from his other works, such as The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America, Notes from a Small Island (which was adapted for television), and In a Sunburned Country. I enjoy reading Bryson's works. His logical, common sense approach to life is filled with subtle humor, and sometimes I even catch myself laughing aloud while envisioning a scene from his books.

In A Walk in the Woods, Bryson decides to hike the Appalachian Trail soon after he and his family move to a small town in New Hampshire where the trail passes near his home. He is joined in his adventure by Steven Katz, the source of much of the humor in this book. The two begin their journey in Georgia during an extremely cold spell one March. As they hike north, the author recounts their journey but also provides glimpses of life along the trail. In essence, he rediscovers America as the title suggests.

If you've never hiked and are considering doing so, this is a good read. Of course, there is a great deal of difference between backpacking long distances over long periods of time as Bryson and Katz do on the Appalachian Trail and taking shorter day hikes and then returning to a comfortable bed each night as I do. But if you like hiking or are curious about it, this is an interesting read. And all along the trail, you get informative detours by the author on various subjects, such as acid rain, history of a region, and humorous insights into regional life. It's a very easy read and very entertaining. I highly recommend it.

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