Book Review — A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

A Walk in the WoodsA Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book combines two of my greatest pleasures: reading Bill Bryson’s hilarious accounts, and camping in the wilderness.

I highly recommend you pick this up if you’ve hiked in the past, or even if you just want a vivid vicarious account of what the experience is like. A few summers ago, I hiked Vancouver Island’s North Coast Trail for seven nights, and while we perhaps didn’t have as many mishaps (though I did almost get savaged by a pack of 11 wolves), I found myself nodding over and over to the tribulations of the trail that Bryson and I had in common.

Bill Bryson and his companion, Stephen Katz, are the last two men you’d expect to hike the Appalachian Trail. Overweight, underprepared, and totally out of their league when it comes to the longest maintained footpath in the world.

You can sort of imagine what’s going to come next, but, well, you’d be wrong. Go read A Walk in the Woods because it’s the funniest non-fiction I’ve ever read, and only Bill Bryson could make a walk in the woods such compelling reading.

There are adventures with choosing equipment, planning the trail, fellow hikers, bears, unlikely camping spots, food shortages, and countless more.

But it’s not just funny stuff. The author captures the majesty and sense of wonder you find only in nature (as best he can, since nothing can ever compare to standing in a forest yourself) better than anyone else I’ve seen. As with his travel books, I’ve a mind to pack my bags and head off to hike the AT next week.

Overall, another solid Bill Bryson book, and perhaps one of my favourites. Though I’m giving it only four stars because the book drags in the latter half once they stop hiking and too much time is spent on the history of the trail.

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