a walk in the woods

A Walk in The Woods by Bill Bryson

From Goodreads:

The Appalachian Trail stretches from Georgia to Maine and covers some of the most breathtaking terrain in America—majestic mountains, silent forests, sparking lakes. If you’re going to take a hike, it’s probably the place to go. And Bill Bryson is surely the most entertaining guide you’ll find. He introduces us to the history and ecology of the trail and to some of the other hardy (or just foolhardy) folks he meets along the way—and a couple of bears. Already a classic, A Walk in the Woods will make you long for the great outdoors (or at least a comfortable chair to sit and read in).

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I came to this book having watched the film a few days ago. The film is decent but I had a feeling there was more to the story in the book. In an unusual flip I found the book was enhanced by having seen the film. Sure, some of the scenes were modified, switched around or simply invented for the film but the spirit of the book is definitely there. What really enhanced the book though was Nick Nolte’s excellent portrayal of Katz. I couldn’t help but see and hear him jumping out of every page and piece of dialogue. Despite how it happened he ended up being a perfect casting choice.

Katz is the success of this book. Bryson himself is very straight, introspective and sometimes abrasive and arrogant. Katz provides the comedic element but also some of the most emotional and thought provoking parts of the story.

It’s hard to think of this book as non-fiction or a travelogue but it’s both. There are lots of negative reviews on Goodreads, mostly based on a negative view of Bryson but I really enjoyed it. It provides a great view of what it’s like to walk a long distance trail and also a nice historical record of how the AT came about. There are many interjections about how the nature of the American wilderness has and still is changing. Probably one for people interested in hiking and camping though.

Header image by Ricardo Esquivel from Pexels

6 thoughts on “a walk in the woods

    1. idlecyclist Post author

      I thought the film was OK but glad I watched it before reading the book as it would have been poor then. Loved Nolte in the character of Katz though. He was perfect for the role

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  1. Anthony

    I enjoyed the book very much. I also enjoyed the film. I watched it again recently with my girlfriend–only she fell asleep.
    This was supposed to be a Redford Newman movie, but sadly Paul Newman passed away before it could be made. Nick Nolte was a good choice…..
    Bryson makes me laugh…sometimes out loud on the subway.

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  2. unironedman

    Love Bryson. Consistently funny and droll. The film was not really a great take on the book, though it was an enjoyable watch. Redford as Bryson is actually one of the funniest aspects of it, when you know what Bryson looks like. I’m sure he thought it was funny too…

    The book, on the other hand, is possibly his best work. Much of his work is travelogue in nature, and segmented for serialisation. This one flowed more naturally for obvious reasons. And it certainly would encourage anyone to get out there and give yourself a challenge.

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