Friday, December 08, 2006


This morning I finished A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. (I like to read in the bath tub . . .). It’s my third Bryson book (after In a Sunburnt Country and A Short History of Nearly Everything) and the first with which I was a tad disappointed. This is by far the shortest of the 3, and also the least in depth.

The book starts out strong with the history of the Appalachian Trail, and ventures into Bryson and his friend, Stephen Katz’s, attempt to hike the entire 2,100 miles of the trail. Unfortunately, after 500 miles, both the walking and the book lose steam. After six weeks on the Trail, they take off to meet later for the final 100 mile leg, and in the mean time, Bryson attempts a bunch of random day hikes, which lend themselves to only unfocused story telling. I generally really enjoy his wry sense of humor, his environmental bent, and the pieces of history he delves into, but while the first half of the book doesn’t disappoint, the second half feels rushed and uninspired. I’ll give it 3 stars out of 5.

10 Comments:

Blogger Ffleur said...

We have a famous trail called the "west coast trail" and it goes up part of Vancouver Island. My bro-in-law did it, the whole thing, but he is no author so sorry, you can't read about it.

here is some info from its web site: "The West Coast Trail is located on the southern west coast of Vancouver Island, BC Canada and stretches 77 kilometers from Port Renfrew on the south end to Bamfield on the north end."

6:34 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

ffleur - thanks! I'll check it out - I would really love to visit Vancouver Island again

6:43 PM  
Blogger GetFlix said...

Sounds like both the hiking and the writing ran outta steam in the end.

6:56 PM  
Blogger sage said...

Ffleur, a friend of mine who has also hiked the AT (we hiked about 800 miles of it together) did the west coast trail last summer.

Diane, I kept laughing with the book, but do agree that after the quit hiking the whole thing, the book does lose focus. And it also shows that he's a whimp!

7:14 PM  
Blogger prunella jones said...

His friend Katz was my favorite part of the book.

8:48 AM  
Blogger EditThis said...

Sunburnt is the only book I've read by him, and I felt the same way about it. In fact, I couldn't finish the book.

That trail in Vancouver sounds cool. I love Vancouver, and should really go up and hike that.

10:16 AM  
Blogger Ffleur said...

Sage: 800 miles! That one huge trail. Wow! Congrats on doing the whole thing

For those interested in the West Coast Trail: remember this is rain forest country so bring your gore-tex and various rain gear.

9:13 PM  
Blogger LA said...

I recently finished his newest one, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, which is a memoir of his childhood in Iowa. It was typical Bryson and introduces Steve Katz as a childhood friend. It's available for borrowing if you're interested, Diane.

12:37 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

la - thanks, I'd love to borrow it!

1:58 PM  
Blogger EditThis said...

Did you see this link? http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/6176363.stm

9:47 AM  

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