First and foremost, Happy New Year! I hope 2016 is good to you, and now to the review.
My uncle let me borrow a few Bill Bryson books because I’m interested in travel so I started with “A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail”. Of course the title doesn’t sound all that interesting, nor does an entire novel about two middle aged men hiking sound any bit exciting but that’s where you’re wrong. I don’t recall ever actually laughing out loud in public because of a book. How can you not laugh when phrases such as “Up to that moment it had not occurred to me that bears might prowl in parties. What on earth would I do if four bears came into my camp? Why, I would die, of course. Literally shit myself lifeless.” appear? He’s not just a good travel writer, but I think someone needs to applaud that man’s ability to swear.
Bryson details his hike through the Appalchian Trail with an old friend Stephen Katz. He divulges his fears of bear attacks, Katz’s chances of survial (as Bryson was assured that Katz was indeed fit to hike to be met with a severely overweight recovering alcoholic swearing he needs to eat Dunkin’ Donuts every half hour or so). Bryson’s language may not be eloquent, but it’s rash and hilarious. The sometimes overwhelming stupidity of the human race is captured in the likes of fellow hiker Mary Ellen, and with Bryson we come to learn to truly appreciate the simple pleasures such as hot showers and good food. It’s not all dense strands of trees, hitchhiking, and waiting for Katz to catch to catch up. Brief respites from the adventures of the trail are taken with the provision of background information and stories of other hikers.
The hike was long, and miserable yet, both men came to love it and found that no other trail or hiking companion could ever replace the AT. It’s rather endearing really.
Even if you have zero interest in the American wilderness or travel, I would still recommend this book to anyone in need of a good laugh.