This book is lovely. It’s funny and personal while still being informative and historical. Bill Bryson is a seriously gifted storyteller. I laughed out loud at several bits (especially the parts about the bears) and learned a lot about the history of the trail, wild life, conservation and national park service. I seriously enjoyed this book. It lives up to it’s hype and I would recommend it.
That’s all I really have to say about it without going into too much detail about the plot itself and although it’s a short summary of my reading experience, I find it very apt. The book is what it is. It lays itself out for you, you take it in and walk away. Bryson can’t possibly convey the full experience of walking the AT, I don’t think the experience translates into words, but he does a wonderful job explaining his journey. I can say, however, that my new life goal is to definitely hike (at least part of) the Appalachian Trail, something about the way that Bryson describes it makes me feel like I’m missing out on something extremely extraordinary.
(Side Note: It’s funny reading Bill Bryson’s A Walk In The Woods after reading Ron Rash’s Serena. They follow similar but opposite paths in many ways. Both written by authors with double letter names, whereas Serena was the scourge of the forest, ripping up trees to lay down train track, Bryson is it’s savoir, quietly respecting the woods, wishing there were more of them. The age, size, and unpredictability of nature is something for Serena to conquer, while Bryson sees it as something to respect and cherish. I’m more of a Bryson than a Serena, but as I read Bryson’s hopeful glee over a potential sighting of the believed-to-be-extinct Eastern Mountain Lion, I can’t help but think of Serena, George and their quest to find the last mystical beast and have the honor of taking it down.)