A Walk In The Woods: Rediscovering America On The Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson

25387599Published: July 28th 2015 (first published November 1st 1997) By: Broadway Books

Genres: Travel-Lit, Non-Fiction, Humor, Nature, Adventure

Format: Paperback (Movie Tie-In) Source: Publisher My Rating: 4 Stars

Find It: Goodreads || Amazon || Barnes & Noble || Book Depo

Back in America after twenty years in Britain, Bill Bryson decided to reacquaint himself with his native country by walking the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine. The AT offers an astonishing landscape of silent forests and sparkling lakes–and to a writer with the comic genius of Bill Bryson, it also provides endless opportunities to witness the majestic silliness of his fellow human beings.
For a start there’s the gloriously out-of-shape Stephen Katz, a buddy from Iowa along for the walk. Despite Katz’s overwhelming desire to find cozy restaurants, he and Bryson eventually settle into their stride, and while on the trail they meet a bizarre assortment of hilarious characters. But A Walk in the Woods is more than just a laugh-out-loud hike. Bryson’s acute eye is a wise witness to this beautiful but fragile trail, and as he tells its fascinating history, he makes a moving plea for the conservation of America’s last great wilderness. An adventure, a comedy, and a celebration,A Walk in the Woods has become a modern classic of travel literature.


I’m not one to read travel literature often. In fact, this may be my 4th one since I learned to read in grade school. Well, that I can remember. If they are all as funny as this one, I want to read more. When I opened this book, I wasn’t expecting an Appalachian Trail history lesson. Nor was I expecting funny or horrendous encounters with bears. Bryson named a few of his favorite books here, so I’m going to pull out my list and see if my library has them soon. A Walk In The Woods is a funny and enlightening adventure that almost makes me want to take that hike. Almost. I’m too afraid of snakes and bears, not to mention all the other wildlife and severe weather conditions that can occur throughout the journey. I’ve never even been camping.

A Walk In The Woods is nothing if not character driven. From Bill himself, to his travel companion Katz,  to the kooky Mary Ellen; they are hilarious. Katz is as out of shape as any hiker ought to be. He thinks of nothing but eating sweets. He lagged behind throughout the journey, and I surely thought that Bill would just tell him to go back home. There are geology lessons, U.S Forest & Park Service history, bear attacks history, camping equipment necessities, hygiene maintenance, and just all around hilarious stories. From Georgia to Maine, Bill will keep you glued to this book. If not for his humor, I don’t think that I would love this as much. I was no fan of geography in school, but this book makes me want to go back and study some things.

Favorite Quotes: “What on earth would I do if four bears came into my camp? Why, I would die of course. Literally shit myself lifeless. I would blow my sphincter out my backside like one of those unrolling paper streamers you get at children’s parties – I daresay it would even give a merry toot – and bleed to a messy death in my sleeping bag.”

“Hunters will tell you that a moose is a wily and ferocious forest creature. Nonsense. A moose is a cow drawn by a three-year-old.”

“I have long known that it is part of God’s plan for me to spend a little time with each of the most stupid people on earth, and Mary Ellen was proof that even in the Appalachian woods I would not be spared. It became evident that she was a rarity.”

I enjoyed reading this book. I definitely recommend this to everyone, even if nature books aren’t your thing. Trust me, this book will change the way you see the genre. It did for me, and I’ll be looking to try some more soon. Definitely recommend.


4 thoughts on “A Walk In The Woods: Rediscovering America On The Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson

  1. I am glad that you were able to enjoy this one, especially as you don’t read literature too often. I know Bill Bryson has a pretty large adult fiction fanbase so I am not surprised to know how much you enjoyed his book. I like the sound of the humor in it — not something I was expecting?


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