Read A Walk in the Woods Online

Authors: Bill Bryson

A Walk in the Woods

PRAISE FOR
A WALK IN THE WOODS

“[Bryson is] great company from the start—a lumbering, droll, neatnik intellectual who comes off as equal parts Garrison Keillor, Michael Kinsley, and … Dave Barry. … [Readers] may find themselves turning the pages with increasing amusement and anticipation as they discover that they’re in the hands of a satirist of the first rank, who writes (and walks) with Chaucerian brio.”


NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

“The Appalachian Trail … consists of some five million steps, and Bryson manages to coax a laugh, and often an unexpectedly startling insight, out of every one he traverses…It is hard not to grin idiotically through all 304 pages … sheer comic entertainment.”


KIRKUS REVIEWS

“Bill Bryson is an extremely funny man; the Appalachian Trail is an exceedingly magnificent place; and together they have created an exceedingly fine book. Also, it weighs less than a pound, which is important if you’re packing for a long hike.”


BILL MCKIBBEN

“Short of doing it yourself, the best way of escaping into nature is to read a book like Bill Bryson’s latest,
A WALK IN THE WOODS
.
… [It is] a funny book, full of dry humor in the Native American grain. It is also a serious book. … The reader … is rarely anything but exhilarated.”


CHRISTOPHER LEHMANN-HAUPT,
NEW YORK TIMES

“[Bryson] plunges into the wilderness and emerges with a consistently comical account of a neophyte woodsman learning hard lessons about self-reliance. … Bryson carries himself in an irresistably bewildered manner, accepting each new calamity with wonder and hilarity.”


PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
(starred review)

“A WALK IN THE WOODS
is an almost perfect travel book.”


BOSTON GLOBE

“This is a seriously funny book. … Bryson also writes most beautifully about the loveliness of the forest and the mountains. … [He is] a natural wonder.”


SUE TOWNSEND,
SUNDAY TIMES
(UK)

“In a style somewhere between that of Mark Twain and Robert Benchley, Bryson recounts enough episodes and snappy repartee among Katz, himself, and folks they meet on and off the trail to provide laugh-out-loud passages.”


ST. PETERSBURG TIMES

“Terribly misguided, and terribly funny tale of adventure. … The yarn is choke-on-your-coffee funny.”


WASHINGTON POST

“Nobody has written anything like this book. It’s funny—so funny I was laughing out loud and reading passages to anyone who would listen.”


PROVIDENCE JOURNAL-BULLETIN

“A tasty treat.”


NEW YORK NEWSDAY

“Engaging [and] delightful.”


PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER

“Bill Bryson could write an essay about dryer lint or fever reducers and still make us laugh out loud.”


CHICAGO SUN-TIMES

“A delightful tale.”


CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER

“Bryson’s tale will keep you in stitches.”


TAMPA TRIBUNE-TIMES

“If you were to cross John Muir’s writings with Dave Barry’s, you’d end up with something along the lines of …
A WALK IN
THE WOODS


NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELER

“Yet another comic, witty, gritty … piece of travel writing-cum-commentary by Bryson. … Reading about the AT, in Bryson’s droll, hyperbolic, information-stuffed style, will bring many of his readers to a grateful, amused appreciation for his walk, his work, and his wit.”


DES MOINES REGISTER

“A delightful and enlightening account of the author’s attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail.”


SALON
magazine

“Bryson’s truth-telling happens to be hilarious.”


LOS ANGELES TIMES

“A mix of tenderness, humor, and an awakening environmental consciousness.”


MIAMI HERALD

“Bill Bryson has produced a book that has once again left me cackling out loud and grinning until my jaw ached.”


SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER

“Bryson reaches a new emotional plateau in his writing … a level of hilarity shot through with sad understanding.”


DALLAS MORNING NEWS

“Bryson is so wry and discerning a tour guide, so lucid and companionable a lay naturalist, that the sum is gleaned from the parts … [his] knowledge proves not only broad but red-hot.”


HOUSTON CHRONICLE

“A WALK IN THE WOODS
is a hilarious account of [Bryson’s] adventures on the Appalachian Trail. It’s worth repeating that salient point:
This book is so very funny.


ARIZONA REPUBLIC

“A well-deserved bestseller. … It’s a great adventure, on a human scale, with survivable discomforts, and, happily, everybody goes home afterwards.”


TIMES-PICAYUNE

“Bryson’s style, humor, and narrative gifts elevate [it] well above the mere travelogue. … [He] takes history, observation, and traveler’s angst and weaves them together seamlessly.”


LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER

“Bryson is a very funny writer who could wring humor from a clammy sleeping bag.”


HARTFORD COURANT

“A nonstop hoot that fans of Bryson’s other books … will place among his best work, and that new readers will pore over with the exhilarating glow of literary discovery.”


ESCAPE
magazine

“A tale that’s laugh-out-loud funny, wonderfully evocative of a long-distance hike and filled with intrigue, pride, outrage, pain. … Close to perfect …
A WALK IN THE WOODS
is a fine, funny reminder that adventure waits close by, whether or not we choose to embrace it.”


NORFOLK VIRGINIAN-PILOT

“A WALK IN THE WOODS
is a quintessential American story about two guys going off into the wilderness together seeking adventures and finding friendship and insights into life in the new world. Just as it does in
HUCKLEBERRY FINN
, companionship coheres this tale.”


MAINE TIMES RECORD

“Savor it a chapter at a time—and read in public so passersby can wonder what could possibly be causing you to laugh so hard.”


FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM

“[A WALK IN THE WOODS]
again shows off [Bryson’s] skills of observation as well as his hilarious wit and is definitely a keeper.”


CHATTANOOGA FREE PRESS

“Bryson’s book is a marvelous description and history of the trail and the mountains. … [His] great good humor makes this a journey worth taking.”


BOOKLIST

by bill bryson

The Lost Continent

Mother Tongue

Neither Here nor There

Made in America

Notes from a Small Island

Table of Contents

Cover

Other Books By This Author

Title Page

Dedication

Part 1

   
Chapter 1

   
Chapter 2

   
Chapter 3

   
Chapter 4

   
Chapter 5

   
Chapter 6

   
Chapter 7

   
Chapter 8

   
Chapter 9

   
Chapter 10

   
Chapter 11

   
Chapter 12

Part 2

   
Chapter 13

   
Chapter 14

   
Chapter 15

   
Chapter 16

   
Chapter 17

   
Chapter 18

   
Chapter 19

   
Chapter 20

   
Chapter 21

Suggested Reading

Intro to Excerpt

An Excerpt from Bill Bryson’s At Home

Outro from Excerpt

Copyright

To Katz
,
of course

DISCLAIMER

This book describes the author’s experience while walking the Appalachian Trail and reflects his opinions relating to those experiences. Some names and identifying details of individuals mentioned in the book have been changed to protect their privacy.

part   
1
chapter
1

N
ot long after I moved with my family to a small town in New Hampshire I happened upon a path that vanished into a wood on the edge of town.

A sign announced that this was no ordinary footpath but the celebrated Appalachian Trail. Running more than 2,100 miles along America’s eastern seaboard, through the serene and beckoning Appalachian Mountains, the AT is the granddaddy of long hikes. From Georgia to Maine, it wanders across fourteen states, through plump, comely hills whose very names—Blue Ridge, Smokies, Cumberlands, Green Mountains, White Mountains—seem an invitation to amble. Who could say the words “Great Smoky Mountains” or “Shenandoah Valley” and not feel an urge, as the naturalist John Muir once put it, to “throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence”?

And here it was, quite unexpectedly, meandering in a dangerously beguiling fashion through the pleasant New England community in which I had just settled. It seemed such an extraordinary
notion—that I could set off from home and walk 1,800 miles through woods to Georgia, or turn the other way and clamber over the rough and stony White Mountains to the fabled prow of Mount Katahdin, floating in forest 450 miles to the north in a wilderness few have seen. A little voice in my head said: “Sounds neat! Let’s do it!”

I formed a number of rationalizations. It would get me fit after years of waddlesome sloth. It would be an interesting and reflective way to reacquaint myself with the scale and beauty of my native land after nearly twenty years of living abroad. It would be useful (I wasn’t quite sure in what way, but I was sure nonetheless) to learn to fend for myself in the wilderness. When guys in camouflage pants and hunting hats sat around in the Four Aces Diner talking about fearsome things done out-of-doors, I would no longer have to feel like such a cupcake. I wanted a little of that swagger that comes with being able to gaze at a far horizon through eyes of chipped granite and say with a slow, manly sniff, “Yeah, I’ve shit in the woods.”

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