Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

Bill Bryson

Category: Nonfiction
Synopsis: Bill Bryson and his friend hike the Appalachian Trail.
Pages: 274
Date finished: 14 January 2015

Rating: ***

I always tell people that I like Bill Bryson, but the more of him I read, the more I think I like the idea of Bill Bryson. Maybe Bryson is funny in ideal, but not so much in practice? I don’t know. I read this book because a movie based on it is coming out this year with Robert Redford in the leading role. It’s been on my list for so long, I figured this was a good reason to force myself to finally read the book. After all, you have to be ahead of the movie. (Of course, I’d like to know why the move is coming out 17 years after the book. Is this a hope to capitalize on the Wild success? Because maybe they never saw Wild and don’t know that it stunk, and was, therefore, not successful? Anywho…)

I have to tell you folks, I did not like this book much at all. I loved every word of Bryson’s One Summer. That book elevated him to genius in my mind, but this book… How could they be written by the same author? This book was drivel (maybe he’d prefer “twaddle”) compared to One Summer. And I’m still kind of mad about that. How can one man’s writing be so uneven?

You likely know the story: a middle-aged English guy and his friend decide to hike the Appalachian Trail, and they set out unprepared and out-of-shape without much of a plan. But this isn’t really even the story. There is no story. They have some adventures. They come home. Bryson does part of the trail himself. They go out again. Or something. Along the way we get a history of the trail, which I enjoyed. But the trail tales—I often didn’t buy them, and I never thought they were as funny as Bryson did.

All in all, I just didn’t enjoy this book. Maybe I was unfairly comparing it to Wild (the book, not the movie), and wanted it to mean something, but it just doesn’t. Also, I don’t understand how Redford will play Bryson. Can Redford even smile, much less crack a joke?

Those of you who adore this book, set me straight please. What am I missing?

Would you recommend this to a friend?
Nope. Bryson has better books, and so does the memoir/arduous hike genre.

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