A Walk in the Woods Book Review

I think there’s something so glorious and romantic about camping.  Sure it’s also rugged and dirty and exhausting…but what better way to ‘get away from it all’ than to spend a few days in the woods.

My boyfriend and I are currently under this impression.  He’s been acting in a summer stock show and I’ve been pretty busy with my own work…and the other day we finally decided to just take a weekend and go camping.

I’ve wanted to take him up to the Upper Peninsula for a while now.  I went to college up there and I miss it terribly.  The summers are actually quite cool up north and the leaves even start to change as early as September.  So, we booked a weekend and we’re heading up there in August.

To prepare myself for my first real camping trip (I’ve camped before…but not in the woods!), I decided to read Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods.  Ironically it turned out to be the best and worst decision I could have made.

You wanna walk the A.T.? Read this first…

If I had to generalize and pick my favorite genre of literature, I would have to say it would be travel and food writing.  If it came down to reading a cookbook or Jane Austin, I’d loose all sensibility (ha!) and take the cookbook every time…and the real good cookbooks, like those put out by Julia Child, Paula Dean, and several others, include personal stories and history.  Those are the keepers.  Those are the ones I want to read with a big bowl of soup and a cup of coffee.

ANYWAY, needless to say I was excited to jump into Bryson’s novel…although it’s made me a tad weary about this whole forest-dwelling adventure in store for me…

Following his return to the US after nearly 20 years overseas in Britain, Bill Bryson decided that the best way to get back into the “American swing of things” would be to foolishly walk the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail, which starts down in Georgia and continues north into Maine.  Personally, I would have just sprung for a burger and fries, but that wouldn’t make nearly as a good a story.

Lush with silent forests, sparkling waters, and extraordinary wildlife, the Appalachian Trail offers something for everyone.  And for Bill Bryson and his partner in crime, Stephen Katz, it was the perfect location to test their willpower, strength, courage, and patience.

Bill and Steve run into their fair share of characters along the way, both human and of the animal variety.  America is rolling up here sleeves here and throwing everything she’s got at these two out of shape and silly characters.

Bryson’s subtle and obvious humor create a nice balance of laugh out loud stories and stories that make you think, make you wonder, make you decide to maybe camp in the back yard with a fence and four Doberman pinchers sitting outside your tent.

This book is more than just a laugh out loud hike, however.  As the old saying goes, “it’s about the journey, not the destination” and that strongly holds true for this must-have tale for any outdoor lover.  Bryson also makes a stand for the trail that changed his life, the trail that’s changed so many lives.  He makes a moving plea for the conservation of America’s last great wilderness…the trail that leads all its travelers to better versions of themselves.

SUGGESTION:  READ IT.  Grab a Snickers bar and enjoy the ride.  I will warn you that parts of the book are a bit slow, but the majority of it will have you laughing out loud and wanting more.

NEXT WEEK:  I’m going a bit crazy.  I’m rocking out three short books next week…all about Native American stories and culture.  As I plan for this camping trip up north, I’m diving back into the books that made me fall in love with the Upper Peninsula and with Native American storytelling.

Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.

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