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Customer reviews & ratings

4.1
Average Rating:(4.1)out of 5 stars
219 ratings
1%Recommended(0 of 3)
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Most helpful positive review
5 customers found this helpful
Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars
Great!
If you plan a long distant hike you have to read this book first! You will learn a lot and you will laugh a lot. It is just great light reading!
Most helpful negative review
Average Rating:(1.0)out of 5 stars
First, a disclaimer: I...
First, a disclaimer: I have hiked a considerable portion of the Appalachian trail in the South, I am a volunteer with the my local Appalachian Trail Club, and I live in north Georgia. I also belong to and support the Appalachian Trail Conference. If you are going to read my opinion of this book, I may as well be honest with you - I love hiking the Appalachian Trail, and I spend time and money supporting it. Bill Bryson is a man who sees his glass half-empty. In this book he trashes the U. S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Appalachian Trail Conference. He denigrates every locale that he hikes: North Georgia, Gatlinburg, Hiawassee, the Great Smoky Mountains, Pennsylvania, and his own adopted hometown. He dwells on the dangers of bears, panthers, weather, and attacks on hikers. Does he ever say anything good about anybody or any institution? In the character of Katz, Bryson describes some of the worst behavior you see on the trail: he routinely litters, with aluminum cans, cigarette butts, and discarded food and equipment, yet Bryson makes no effort to correct him or point out how he is wrong. I am sure Bryson went into this project knowing that he wanted to write a book, with the intention of gathering material for the book, and yet he did not finish his hike. So he has the effrontery to present himself as some sort of authority, someone qualified to write a travel memoir about the AT, even though he gives up his hike every time the challenge is too much for him. So if you are looking for a memoir about a successful hike of the AT, don't bother with this pseudo memoir by a great pretender. Instead, go to the ATC website, where you will find a large number of excellent hiking memoirs for sale.
Most helpful positive review
5 customers found this helpful
Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars
Great!
If you plan a long distant hike you have to read this book first! You will learn a lot and you will laugh a lot. It is just great light reading!
Most helpful negative review
Average Rating:(1.0)out of 5 stars
First, a disclaimer: I...
First, a disclaimer: I have hiked a considerable portion of the Appalachian trail in the South, I am a volunteer with the my local Appalachian Trail Club, and I live in north Georgia. I also belong to and support the Appalachian Trail Conference. If you are going to read my opinion of this book, I may as well be honest with you - I love hiking the Appalachian Trail, and I spend time and money supporting it. Bill Bryson is a man who sees his glass half-empty. In this book he trashes the U. S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Appalachian Trail Conference. He denigrates every locale that he hikes: North Georgia, Gatlinburg, Hiawassee, the Great Smoky Mountains, Pennsylvania, and his own adopted hometown. He dwells on the dangers of bears, panthers, weather, and attacks on hikers. Does he ever say anything good about anybody or any institution? In the character of Katz, Bryson describes some of the worst behavior you see on the trail: he routinely litters, with aluminum cans, cigarette butts, and discarded food and equipment, yet Bryson makes no effort to correct him or point out how he is wrong. I am sure Bryson went into this project knowing that he wanted to write a book, with the intention of gathering material for the book, and yet he did not finish his hike. So he has the effrontery to present himself as some sort of authority, someone qualified to write a travel memoir about the AT, even though he gives up his hike every time the challenge is too much for him. So if you are looking for a memoir about a successful hike of the AT, don't bother with this pseudo memoir by a great pretender. Instead, go to the ATC website, where you will find a large number of excellent hiking memoirs for sale.
<ul><li>Format:Paperback</li><li>Publication Date: 2006-12-26</li></ul>
219 reviews
Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

Great!

If you plan a long distant hike you have to read this book first! You will learn a lot and you will laugh a lot. It is just great light reading!

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Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

Bill Bryson

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Absolutely hilarious. I wish I discovered Bill Bryson a long time ago.

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Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

Funny entertaining book

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I love nature and hiking...and I love to laugh. This book has it all.

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Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

Excellent read! I feel...

Excellent read! I feel I have experienced the trail myself and any wishful thinking on my part to try and hike the trail is in the past tense. Small day hikes yes, a two month trek...no way! The information Bryson intertwines amidst his steps is done wonderfully. The history of the trail, the images of scenery, bear attacks and even murder are described and make the trip well rounded. Rarely do I find myself laughing out loud as I read but this one certainly caused me to do so many times. Finishing the book with relief for his safety and regret for the losses we are experiencing in the natural worls made this a read that touched all my senses.

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Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

I liked this book so m...

I liked this book so much! When my friend gave it to me and basically said "It's about a guy who hikes the long trail", I thought - "not so much." But believe me, he writes so candidly I was literally laughing out loud at some parts. It's a very easy, enjoyable read - trust me, you'll like it.

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Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

A Hilarious Series of ...

A Hilarious Series of Misadventures, History Lesson, and Buddy Tale All in OneI don't think I'm ever NOT reading this book--it's one of the 5 I would take to a desert island. First book I remember that made me laugh out loud until I cried. Lewis and Clark meet Laurel and Hardy, by way of Mark Twain. Bryson is the best travel writer, period. Five stars.

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Average Rating:(4.0)out of 5 stars

Im starting to become...

I'm starting to become a real Bryson fan. I enjoy his tone and sometimes dry humor, and I enjoy that he sneaks in informative tidbits without you hardly realizing it. Having lived within a half hour of the Appalachian Trail most of my life, I felt an extra connection with this story. My great uncle hiked the trail solo from Maine to Georgia a few years ago at the age of 62, and I feel like this gave me a little insight into what his journey was like. I'll definitely be consuming more of Bryson's stories.

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Average Rating:(4.0)out of 5 stars

Bill Bryson decides he...

Bill Bryson decides he wants to walk the entire Appalachian Trail (but does he, actually? He'll let you know). This was back in the 1990s, when I suspect isolation was much greater due to the relative lack of internet availability and smartphones didn't exist. Bryson does acquire a walking partner who is an unlikely volunteer -- Katz is overweight and favors junk food as fuel. This book started out hilarious; I was laughing so much. As it went on, Bryson's snarky tendencies (especially towards other hikers encountered along the trail) started to wear on me. Still, I found it fascinating reading -- he includes tidbits about how the government handles the trail (not very well) and about animals that are encountered, or might be encountered, along the trail. His descriptions about what he learned regarding bears was truly hair-raising. And, no, it didn't make me want to give the Appalachian trail a shot (beyond maybe a couple miles). But I don't think that was Bryson's goal, to make people clamor to try it; he did not mince words about how hard his experiences were.

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Average Rating:(4.0)out of 5 stars

Oh, how I love Bill Br...

Oh, how I love Bill Bryson. He's everything I look for in an author. A good writer. Brave, but not too much. Human. And funny. Most of all, funny. So last week I reread A Walk in the Woods. I reread it slowly. It was one of those books you don't want to end. All along the way you are laughing. You just have to laugh at Bryson. He tries to do the hard thing, but it's...well, hard. And his companion, Katz, is equally human. Quintessential Americans. So much fun.

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Average Rating:(4.0)out of 5 stars

Perhaps it was inevita...

Perhaps it was inevitable after reading the three pages of blurb about how great and how hysterical this book was, but I found it a bit of a letdown. There are funny parts and there are very interesting parts, but the overall tone is bittersweet. It doesn't take Bryson and his most-of-the-time companion Katz too long to realize that they aren't going to succeed in hiking the whole 2200+ miles of the Appalachian Trail. Throw in Bryson's observations about the various species that have died out, the incompetence of the Forest Service and Park Service, and his disdain for small Southern towns, and the overall tone is more than a bit grumpy. Which perhaps I would be if I had walked so much. Apparently they're making a movie version now with Redford and Nolte, who are decades older than Bryson and Katz were when they made their hike. It seems like good casting, however, particularly Nolte as the erratic but doggedly determined Katz. Telescoped into 90 minutes or two hours, it may end up being a lot more entertaining and perhaps even profound than the book. What the book most lacks is really any sense of the author. While Bryson is quick to trot out his opinion of Stonewall Jackson or a primer on hypothermia, we never really see what makes him tick. A more personal book would have been more engaging. (Donated to Little Free Library in Herndon, VA)

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Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

I loved this book. I f...

I loved this book. I found it witty, well-researched, full of interesting facts and description about the social, geological, and botanical history of the areas over which he hiked, as well as comical and fun. I also found it to be a quick read, with a wonderful, dry sense of humor that only the British can manage to pull off. Great book.

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Average Rating:(4.0)out of 5 stars

An interesting read ab...

An interesting read about two middle-aged men (Bryson and Katz) and their attempt to thru hike the Appalachian Trail. Great humor results in the process, as well as a lot of lessons on the history of the trail and its neighboring towns. Bryson also provides provocative and sobering information about the environment and our impact on it. Written over 10 years ago, it does seem a little dated in places - would be nice to have an update from Bryson on some of the facts and figures!

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Average Rating:(4.0)out of 5 stars

Bill Bryson is a noted...

Bill Bryson is a noted popular, with several books to his credit. Finding humor in all sorts of bizarre situations, his books are popular. In "A Walk in the Woods," he describes his rather quixotic attempt to through-hike the Appalachian Trail, with almost no hiking or camping experience. Taking along a friend who is even a more unlikely candidate, he sets out. Bryson's descriptions are invariably amusing, as he takes us along his slow journey. He intersperses descriptions of trail life with interesting bits about the creation and history of the trail and certain locations along the way -- or in one case, almost on the way. Although I've never hiked the trail, Bryson's details seem accurate, providing a feel for the pain, giving way to monotony, giving way to acceptance, giving way to wonder. It continuously posits the question, "Why would anyone do this?" even as it suggests a few answers, including discovering a different type of life away from our modern conveniences and our modern schedules. Several people have written books about hiking the Appalachian Trail over the years. Many are by hikers much more experienced than Bryson and his companion, but it's difficult to imagine any that are more entertaining. Of course, all is not fun and games, there is one story of true terror in the book, unexpected, which demonstrates Bryson's skill as a storyteller. Likely this book will appeal to a broad audience. One does not need to be a forest ranger to understand or appreciate Bryson's story. And given that these hikers start with little experience, there's no wilderness jargon that will bewilder the uninitiated.

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Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

Great Book!! This was ...

Great Book!! This was recommended to me by a co-worker who claimed it was laugh out loud funny and was right. I read this last summer, summer of 09, and plan on reading it again this summer as I think it defined that time of year for me. It did loose something in the second half of the book, I wish they just continued on the trail but what can you do, I have never done it. All and all a great book and I can't wait to read again and again.

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Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

As with all Brysons b...

As with all Bryson's books, don't take this somewhere to read if you will be looked at oddly when you break out into uncontrollable giggles. Bryson is a riot, as well as a terrific writer, able to put you right in a place. A Walk in the Woods chronicles his attempt to walk a good portion of the Appalachian Trail.

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Average Rating:(3.0)out of 5 stars

This book was almost i...

This book was almost in every way not at all what I expected. I was anticipating a funny commentary on hiking the Appalachian Trail, or about the people encountered along the way, or discussions with people who had done the trail. Oh no. This was actually rather depressing. Each chapter began with a lengthy history or science commentary about a section of the trail (often about the effects of "progress" or dwindling species), or a person associated with establishing part of it, or about people who died while on the trail. Much of the rest was just about walking--not the vistas, or the wonders of nature--just walking, quite often in miserable conditions. On one hand, it made me never want to even attempt part of this expansive hike, but on the other hand it's kind of inspiring.

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Average Rating:(4.0)out of 5 stars

This had some good inf...

This had some good information, but overall I was disappointed because I knew it had been well received and I was expecting more. I think he gave too little attention to his actual experience -- and I can't believe that he and his friend subsisted on only noodles and candy bars while walking all day long for weeks on end! It just didn't add up. The sidebar information about how the trail was created and the wildlife was definitely the best part.

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Average Rating:(5.0)out of 5 stars

Loved this book! Read...

Loved this book! Read it, then listened to it on audio. Living close the end of the trail here in Maine, and having spent years living in the middle, but never having the courage to do that kind of hiking, I was able to enjoy the adventures just listening to them. I particularly enjoyed the expansive (but not obsessive) historical background he provides as he reaches various areas of the country.

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Average Rating:(3.0)out of 5 stars

Laugh Out Loud Funny.....

Laugh Out Loud Funny... like Laurel and Hardy take to the woods. Hiking the AT has always been a dream of mine and after reading this, it is no less of a dream but the reality of it is much scarier. I didn't appreciate his view of the US Forest Service, mainly because my dad works for them, but you can't argue with Bryson's logic. A read almost anyone can enjoy.

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Average Rating:(3.0)out of 5 stars

From book jacket: Retu...

From book jacket: Returning to the United States after 20 years in England, Bryson decided to reacquaint himself with America by walking the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail. He persuaded his friend Stephen Katz to join him, and through weeks and months on the trail these two pioneers get in touch with a lot more than just life on the trail. I had previously read Bryson's memoir of his childhood in Des Moines (The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid), and really enjoyed his humor. I was expecting that same feeling. But in this book Bryson is not so funny. Yes, there are humorous episodes, but Bryson spends most of the book explaining the history of the Appalachian Trail and waxing poetic about the beauty and majesty of these forests. He indulges in philosophical and political discussion. A paragraph towards the end says it perfectly: I gained a profound respect for wilderness and nature and the benign dark power of woods. I understand now, in a way I never did before, the colossal scale of the world. I found patience and fortitude that I didn't know I had. I discovered an America that millions of people scarcely know exists. I'm glad I read it, and I'll read more Bryson, but I will no longer assume his writing is "humor."

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