If you love hiking, walking or nature, this is a great title. It is extremely funny and informative. It transports you to the Appalachian trail, and what it would be like to try to hike the whole distance. It also covers environmental concerns regarding the preservation of the trail, and the history of those who founded it.
I know this was supposed to be unabridged but I remember reading the book and laughing constantly. Somehow the reading didn't seem so funny -- very disappointing.
If you want to get a little information about the wilderness as well as a great story, get it. I got this book after listening to A Short History of Nearly Everything and am pleased. Bill Bryson is funny and smart and keeps your attention easily. I will definitely look for more of his books in the future.
The book was very entertaining, and a good introduction to what things you could expect for hiking on the AT. The author's account was both humorous and informative.
Two observations that you should know:
First, someone commented that you should get the unabridged rather than the abridged version. Unfortunately it is not available as far as I could check. The original recording was apparently made in the 20th century when audiobooks had to fit on a certain number of CDs or cassettes. Don't look for an unabridged version to become available unless the publisher decides to re-record the missing parts (or entire book) and re-release it.
Second: An earlier review implied it was a good story to listen with the kids. However, I would disagree strongly. Profanity is laced throughout the story, and some of it is not the "mild" kind. To me this really detracts from the story's quality and so I had to lower my rating. The author's hiking buddy also has a history and a lifestyle that is not for kids, and it is mentioned a few times. I understand you want to be accurate in storytelling, but you can be accurate without the use of "gutter language." That's one of the challenges of really great writing. To me it's what separates "good books" from "great books".
If the book were a movie, I would rate it as "PG-13".
Other than this, I would say the book is enjoyable. Would I buy it again? Yes. But it's probably not one I would listen to again for some time due to the language.
I can't imagine anyone narrating his books other than him. The book is great, the narration is great. When you see someone laughing at the stop light, they're probably listening to Bill Bryson.
If you want a book that will make you laugh outloud, this is the one. Listening to this book was a fun experience and the descriptions of Bill Bryson's journey were so vivid I really could picture what his journey entailed. His sense of humor is wonderful and I look forward to listening to another of his books.
This is a great book. We heard part of it on XM and had to have a copy. Bill Bryson is a great author and the book is informative and great entertainment. It makes me want to grab a back pack and hit the trail.
I love Bill Bryson- so glad he reads his own material because it adds that element of real time and place - he is funny as a reader-writer; yet as often as I listen, he never fails to cause one to think, or if you are a world traveler, to remember!