Anybody read the book "A Walk in the Woods" by Bill Bryson? I just got it for x-mas and is written by a guy who hiked the AT. Being someone who has walking the AT on my future hikes itinerary, I love this book so far and am having a hard time putting it down!
Thanks for saying that! I agree. I did not like the book much. Seems like everyone else did. I am just not into books where people who do stupid things and write about it cleaverly get all the attention. I sure would like a book about a well planned trip with people who actually know what they are doing. I can see why the general public would like it though - they can relate. Yes it is well written and funny. But that just is not enough.
As a backpacker I found the book to be mildly offensive. As entertainment I found it quite amusing. I have read and enjoyed most of his other books but I imagine that I would be offended by some of his other books if I lived in England for instance. He is writing to be humorous and it is very easy to offend the people you are using as subjects of your humor. On the other hand some of his books about traveling in England made me want to do the same type of trip and as an outsider I could see the humor in his encounters.
Another vote for not liking this book too well. I particularly didn't like the tone that he somehow found all the other hikers "beneath" him; the book was humorous, but had very little to do with backpacking.
Much better is White Blaze Fever or any of a dozen other books by people who actually did hike the whole trail with an open mind.
As far as the "humor," it seemed to always come at someone else's expense, unlike the humor of Patrick McManus, which I really love.
Glen I agree with you. I dont feel this book is of much technical use. However, It did have a comical tone. I think I have read every Patrick F Mcmanus book printed. He is down right nuts. Awsome comical reading, I laid in bed reading and cryed laughing at night. This was much to my wifes dismay who was trying to sleep!
Funny, I've been a big Bryson fan since The Mother Tongue. Loved the opening line in the US book, "I was born in Des Moines, somebody had to be" (so was I). I happened to be in NYC on the release date for A Walk in the Woods and waited in line at a bookstore across from Penn station to get it. Before I got to Washington, I decided I hated it. In his other books, he pokes fun, but clearly understands context and motivation. Looked forward to his doing that with us, but he ever got close, just looked from a distance and snickered. And yeah, Daisy, got lazy; both as a hiker and as a writer. He went for really cheap laughs. best, jcp
I am going to pipe back up on Bryson. I have not read his other books so I only have A Walk In The Woods to judge him by.
The more I think about the book, the less I like it. I am conflicted however. His moaning and mistakes actually make the AT sound horrible, which may keep the masses away. On the other hand, I detest his tone, his need to consistently point and laugh at others while doing completely moronic stuff himself. He adds in a lot of environmental rants (which I am inclined to agree with in spirit), while Katz throws garbage over the side of a canyon and they giggle about it. He complains about PA without really hiking it. He climbs the White Mountains with out a rain jacket and while in jeans. He builds up to hiking Maine, then gets out of it at the first opportunity. Then he justifies it as something higher.
I don't like Bryson, and I don't like his book. He quit because he was lazy and began justifying his quitting just days into the trail.
I once thought Into The Wild was a bit preachy (at least McCandless, and it comes out more in the movie), but he actually did the things he wanted to do. For my .02, Krakauer is a much more entertaining and introspective author.
Edited by dolomiti (03/01/1010:00 AM)
If you go hiking with friends, there are many plans to coordinate; if you go hiking alone, you can leave right now.
Loc: Myrtle Beach, SC
I thought it was humorous and didn't expect expert advice from the book. He admitted in the beginning that he was anything but an expert as he shopped for all the necessities and was astounded at how much he was spending. I took the book for what it was. An accounting of the trials and tribulations, thrills and victories of a greenhorn hiker just wanting to get the hell away from the hustle/bustle of city life and willing to try something excessive, or beyond just a quick day-hike to achieve his goal. Not best seller material, just light material on something I enjoy. Cary
I came to this book having read a number of other Bryson books first. I find his tone very funny, and he is always just a little amused about everything--people are funny, including backpackers!
That said, if you read this book hoping that it would be a serious summary of a man against the AT, you are certain to be disappointed. This is the story of a very accomplished writer who knows NOTHING about backpacking. And he finds it all just a bit confusing and amusing. He freaks out about things we find pretty normal. And sometimes he misses what we love. And yes, he quits before he finishes.
He's an expert writer, but an absolute rookie backpacker. And he admits it, and never claims he is anything else.
I had read some of Bryson's other work before this book, so I had an idea of what to expect. And I read it immediately after I finished my thru-hike in 1999, actually as I was on the train then greyhound bus on the way home. So I had a bit different perspective on the book.
I found I laughed at it quite a bit, though I was put off by Bryson's "quitting" and I took a superior tone to his superior tone. I classed it as entertaining misinformation.
A decade later, I realize it for what it is. Perhaps the best account of what the massive majority (80+%) of attempted thru-hikes actually look like. MOST people quit for one reason or another in what is often a comedy of errors. MOST people who hike it in sections or thru-hike it often "slackpack" big sections, carrying just a daypack, like Bryson did in Pennsylvania and New England. MOST thru-hikers are annoyed by gear heads who pontificate why their set of gear is the Holy Grail, while your's is crap.
I applaud the man for realizing he was having a lousy time in constant rain and doing what made him happier. And while I initially regarded him as a lazy mug, I've since pondered the fact that he hiked about a third of the nearly 2200 mile trail, far more than most Americans will ever consider, and likely more than the great majority of members of this board have completed.
Just food for thought on a book that brought more of a spotlight on the Appalachian Trail than any other book published...
I have read it quite a few times and each time I find more to laugh at then the previous. What a GREENHORN! I think I will go hike the AT, no real experience in backpacking, but how tough can it be. I will be at a town every 4-5 days, what is the big deal! funny book.
Anytime I want a good book to read, or rather be read, I pick this one up on CD from the library. Bet I've checked it out a dozen times over the past few years. Have listened to a couple of other of his books as well but didn't like them as well. Course I'm a smarta$$ at heart! LOL!
Lost? Ain't never been lost! Fearsum confused for 2 or 3 months but never lost.
This was the first book I read on the Appalacian Trail. Have to admit, I didn't finish it, but that's only because I got distracted by other things and other books.
He did do a lot of things "wrong" but he did them "righter" than I can do right now. The part I really liked is when he quit and decided it was his trail to hike as he wanted. I think that's an important lesson for people trying to live other people's lives instead of their own.
For the other end, "See you down the trail" by Bert Nemcik is about someone who hiked very well. He was in very good shape, so the distances are probably more than most can attain.
Those expecting to put down a book and be ready to go hike a long trail are mostly mistaken, but they are great motivators.