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As it happens, we live in Hanover, NH, just as Bill Bryson did when he wrote this book. So I've the same experience of watching mysterious bearded and bedraggled figures pop out of the woods as they come off the Appalachian Trail in search of mail, groceries, etc. And if there is a more physically active community in America it would be hard to find. Folks walk, run, row, bike, etc. at a clip that's remarkable. Not only does the AT run through but we have a comprehensive trail system, some of which connects to it. But even if you aren't on the trails you have regular encounters with deer, bears, porcupines, ravens, owls, hawks, turkeys, grouse and so on and so forth. We are in and amongst nature. It is easy enough to delude yourself that you too could go out and hike the whole trail if you were so inclined. Twenty years ago, Mr. Bryson learned just how much self-deception this involves.

The making of the book is Mr. Bryson's recruitment of a hiking partner. The only volunteer is a friend of his youth, Katz, who is something of a ne'er do well and not only shows up overweight and out of shape but thinks snacks are more important baggage than survival gear for his backpack. Despite all the author's attempts to play his partner for laughs, Katz ultimately comes across as the more determined--if slower--hiker, an even-keeled presence while Mr. Bryson is freaking out about bears and the like, and a generally good-humored counterweight while Bryson branches off in various rages against other hikers, the Park services, developers and so on and so forth. the two start skipping portions of the trail fairly early, but when the author decides to quit Katz is the one who's willing to keep going.

While the humor here is often quite mean-spirited, it is undeniably funny. And you can't help but share Mr. Bryson's anger about how badly the national treasure that is the trail has been treated and be saddened by the violence incidents that have occurred, even if they are rarer than this narrative would seem to imply. for the most part though, you're glad Mr. Bryson chronicled his adventure/misadventure so you're disabused of the notion you'd ever want to try it.


(Reviewed:)

Grade: (B+)


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See also:

Bill Bryson (2 books reviewed)
Nature
Bill Bryson Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: Bill Bryson
    -FILMOGRAPHY: Bill Bryson
    -BOOK SITE: A Walk in the Woods (Penguin Random House)
    -WIKIPEDIA: A Walk in the Woods (book)
    -ESSAY: You Gotta Have Friends. Which is Damned Unfortunate.: Tackling the Appalachian Trail on a whim would require a few essentials. I realized, foremost among them a boon companion. What I got was Katz. (Bill Bryson, April 1998, Outside)
    -EXCERPT: from A Walk in the Woods (Book Browse)
    -EXCERPT: from A Walk in the Woods (LitHub)
    -ESSAY: This green and pleasant land (Bill Bryson, 9 Jul 2007, The Guardian)
    -STUDY GUIDE: A Walk in the Woods (Lit Charts)
    -READERS GUIDE: A Walk in the Woods (Lit Lovers)
    -READING GROUP: Reader's Den: A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson (Elizabeth Waters, AskNYPL)
    -READERS GUIDE: A Walk in the Woods (Discover BCCLS)
    -PROFILE: Bill Bryson: It’s impossible to be sick of England: The author on love, loss and the wonders of the human body (Leaf Arbuthnot, 18 April 2020, The Spectator)
    -VIDEO INTERVIEW: Bill Bryson on One Summer: America 1927 (Waterstones, Sep 26, 2013)
    -PROFILE: Bill Bryson says he's retiring – is he really putting away his pen?: The beloved American author will be sorely missed, but some writers find it hard to call time on a literary career (Alison Flood, 15 Oct 2020, The Guardian)
    -INTERVIEW: 'No tree has ever changed my life' (Juliette Jowit, 7 May 2006, The Guardian)
    -INTERVIEW: Lead the way: Bill Bryson usually travels alone, but this year he joined the judges at the Wanderlust Guide awards and found out what he has been missing (Simon Mills, 13 Oct 2007, The Guardian)
    -INTERVIEW: Bill Bryson: ‘When I came here the UK was poorer but much better looked after’: The author speaks to Nicholas Wroe about his childhood, the need for higher taxes in Britain and how he never wanted to be a travel writer (Nicholas Wroe, 14 Mar 2015, The Guardian)
    -INTERVIEW: BEA 2013: Bill Bryson: Serendipitous Summer (Hilary S. Kayle, May 31, 2013, Publishers Weekly)
    -INTERVIEW: PW: Bill Bryson: An Ex-expat Traveling Light (Norman Oder, May 04, 1998, Publishers Weekly)
    -INTERVIEW: A Different Kind of Journey: PW Talks with Bill Bryson (Sarah F. Gold, Apr 07, 2003, Publishers Weekly)
    -INTERVIEW: Bill Bryson on what happened when Robert Redford demanded to play him in A Walk in the Woods (Radio Times)
    -INTERVIEW: Q&A: Bill Bryson, author – ‘When did I last cry? When the Guardian called me a scaremonger’ (Rosanna Greenstreet, 20 Feb 2016, The Guardian)
    -INTERVIEW: Bill Bryson on the End of Walking: A Walk in the Woods, starring Nick Nolte and Robert Redford, comes out this week. (BEN RYDER HOWE, SEP 4, 2015, Town & Country)
    -INTERVIEW: Bill Bryson interview: "I enjoy the preposterousness of life": The legendary travel author talks road trips, great guides, and his favouite place on earth (hint: it's not where you'd expect!) (Wanderlust, 1/01/15)
    -ESSAY: 5 Reasons to Read Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods Before You See the Movie (Molly Schoemann-McCann, August 17, 2015, B&N Review)
    -PROFILE: The real life of Bill Bryson's 'Stephen Katz' (Mike Kilen, 9/01/15, The Des Moines Register)
    -ESSAY: Including Appalachian Stereotypes in Multicultural Education: An Analysis of Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods (Mary Jean Ronan Herzog, Spring 1999, Journal of Appalachian Studies)
    -ESSAY: AMERICA'S APPALACHIAN TRAIL: FOLLOW IN BILL BRYSON'S FOOTSTEPS WITH 'A WALK IN THE WOODS': The writer's account of an exhausting trek in the remote Appalachians has been turned into a film. Andrew Eames follows his footsteps into the woods (Andrew Eames, 11 September 2015, Independent)
    -ESSAY: Scaremongers like Bill Bryson reinforce harmful green belt myths: Suggest that just a small fraction of green belt land could meet our housing needs and the nimbys accuse you of wanting to concrete over all of it (Colin Wiles, 11/25/16, The Guardian)
    -ESSAY: Bill Bryson responds to scathing review of "One Summer: America 1927": The bestselling travelogue writer defends himself against Douglas Brinkley's brutal takedown (PRACHI GUPTA, NOVEMBER 11, 2013, Salon)
    -
   
-VIDEO ARCHIVES: Bill Bryson (You Tube)
    -REVIEW ARCHIVE: Bill Bryson (Kirkus)
    -ARCHIVES: Bill Bryson (NPR)
    -ARCHIVES: Bill Bryson (The Guardian)
    -ARCHIVES: Bill Bryson (Outside)
    -REVIEW: of A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson (Publishers Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of A Walk in the Woods (Kirkus)
    -REVIEW: of A Walk in the Woods (Dwight Garner, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of A Walk in the Woods (CHRISTOPHER LEHMANN-HAUPT, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of A Walk in the Woods (Kirkus)
    -REVIEW: of A Walk in the Woods ()
    -REVIEW: of A Walk in the Woods (Robert Moor, The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: of A Walk in the Woods (Mark Luccarilli, Terrain.org)
    -REVIEW: of A Walk in the Woods (Reader's Lane)
    -REVIEW: of A Walk in the Woods (Georgia Stephens, Times [uk])
    -REVIEW: of A Walk in the Woods (Rose Bogard, The Communicator)
    -REVIEW: of A Walk in the Woods (Ronald Turnbull, UK Hill Walking)
    -REVIEW: of A Walk in the Woods (Let's Be Wild)
    -REVIEW: of A Walk in the Woods (Environment and Society Portal)
    -REVIEW: of A Walk in the Woods (For the Love of Wanderlust)
    -REVIEW: of A Walk in the Woods (Discover Walking)
    -REVIEW: of A Walk in the Woods (Ton of Worms)
    -REVIEW: of The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way by Bill Bryson (Publishers Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson (Publishers Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of One Summer: America, 1927 (Matt Ridley, The Sunday Times uk)
    -REVIEW: of One Summer: America, 1927 (Jasper Rees, The Telegraph)
    -REVIEW: of One Summer: America, 1927 (Ian Critchley, The Times uk)
    -REVIEW: of One Summer: America, 1927 (Jonathon Mirsky, The Spectator)
    -REVIEW: of One Summer: America, 1927 (Library Journal)
    -REVIEW: of One Summer: America, 1927 (Christopher Bray, The Observer)
    -REVIEW: of One Summer: America, 1927 (Sarah Churchwell, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of One Summer: America, 1927 (Kevin Baker, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of One Summer: America, 1927 (Douglas Brinkley, Washington Post)
    -REVIEW: of One Summer: America, 1927 (Jillian Abbott, NY Journal of Books
    -REVIEW: of One Summer: America, 1927 (David M. Shribman, Boston Globe)
    -REVIEW: of One Summer: America, 1927 (Kirkus)
    -REVIEW: of One Summer: America, 1927 (CHUCK LEDDY, Minneapolis Star Tribune)
    -REVIEW: of One Summer: America, 1927 (KELLY BLEWETT, Cincinnati Public Radio)
    -REVIEW: of One Summer: America, 1927 (Erica Wagner, Financial Times)
    -REVIEW: of One Summer: America, 1927 (Edward Kosner, WSJ)
    -REVIEW: of One Summer: America, 1927 (Jerry Harkavy, Daily Journal)
    -REVIEW: of One Summer: America, 1927 (Nathan Whitlock, Toronto Star)
    -REVIEW: of One Summer: America, 1927 (Martin Lund, Redrawing NY)
    -REVIEW: of One Summer: America, 1927 (Carin Siegfried, Caroline Bookbinder)
    -REVIEW: of One Summer: America, 1927 (Curtis Edmonds, Bookreporter)
    -REVIEW: of One Summer: America, 1927 (Karina Wetherbee, Vail Daily)
    -REVIEW: of One Summer: America, 1927 (Aamer Madhani, USA TODAY)
    -REVIEW: of One Summer: America, 1927 (Desmond Hallett, Atlantic Business Magazine)
    -REVIEW: of One Summer: America, 1927 (Erik Spanberg, CS Monitor)
    -REVIEW: of One Summer: America, 1927 (Sean Farrell, Independent.ie)
    -REVIEW: of One Summer: America, 1927 (Patrick T Reardon)
    -REVIEW: of One Summer: America, 1927 (Douglas Perry, The Oregonian)
    -REVIEW: of One Summer: America, 1927 (
    -REVIEW: of One Summer: America, 1927 (
    -REVIEW: of In a Sun-burned Country by Bill Bryson (Publishers Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America by Bill Bryson (Publishers Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of Notes from a Small Island (miles Harvey, Outside)
    -REVIEW: of A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (Robin McKie, The Observer)
    -REVIEW: of At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson (Publishers Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of At Home (Carole Cadwalladr, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of At Home (Stuart Jeffries, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir by Bill Bryson (Publishers Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of Thunderbolt Kid (Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Thunderbolt Kid (Ian Sansom, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Thunderbolt Kid (Carole Cadwalladr, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson (Alexander Larman, The Observer)

FILM
:
    -FILMOGRAPHY: A Walk in the Woods
    -FILMOGRAPHY: A Walk in the Woods (Rotten Tomatoes)
    -WIKIPEDIA: A Walk in the Woods (film)
    -FILMOGRAPHY: A Walk in the Woods (Metacritic)
    -INTERVIEW: Fact-Checking ‘A Walk in the Woods’ With Director Ken Kwapis (John Jurgensen, Sept. 6, 2015, WSJ)
    -INTERVIEW: Interview: Nick Nolte and Bill Bryson on A Walk in the Woods: Hollywood takes on the Appalachian Trail in the cinematic adaptation of a hit travelogue (Backpacker, AUGUST 19, 2015)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: Robert Redford On Aging, Curiosity And 'A Walk In The Woods' (WBUR, September 01, 2015, Here & Now)
    -FILM REVIEW: A Walk in the Woods (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian)
    -FILM REVIEW: A Walk in the Woods (Mark Olsen, LA Times)
    -FILM REVIEW: A Walk in the Woods (Jordan Bowman, The Trek)
    -FILM REVIEW: A Walk in the Woods (KAORI SHOJI, Japan Times)
    -FILM REVIEW: A Walk in the Woods (Restless Wild)
    -FILM REVIEW: A Walk in the Woods (David Weisberger, Medium)
    -FILM REVIEW: A Walk in the Woods (Carolyn MacDowell, Culture Concept))
    -FILM REVIEW: A Walk in the Woods (Susan Wloszczyna, RogerEbert.com)
    -FILM REVIEW: A Walk in the Woods (Bilge Ebiri, Vulture)

Book-related and General Links:

    -ESSAY: Did Thru-Hiking the Appalachian Trail Ruin My Body?: Many hikers hope their treks will make them better at other sports. Instead, mine kept me from distance running for a year—a common side effect we don't discuss enough. (Grayson Haver Currin, Jan 25, 2021, Outside)