I have been a member for over a year. This has been my favorite book so far. I would be riding down the highway laughing out loud. What more can you ask for?
The book just didn't do it for me...definitely dissappointed after reading several of the reviews and then listening to it myself. I felt that the story and the author falls short of anything but a rambling narrative of a sorry attempt at hiking the AT. To put it plainly, I found it boring! The author reads with very flat affect, which over time becomes somewhat annoying. An unprepared, overspent man chooses a sedentary, alcoholic hiking partner and makes several short-sighted attempts to hike the AT...and he tells about it!
A book can get you out of your house, your town, even out of the country. I'm an avid reader believing reviews help find the good ones.
I own this book and read it many years ago. It was then that I fell in love with Bryson’s sense of humor and his writing style. When I started audio books it was a must download for me. The book was even better as a listener!
Bryson’s wit and sense of humor make the story come alive. His friend Katz kept me laughing throughout. This book makes you want to grab your backpack and take off on the trail. I wish I had the time to hike the AT or PCT but life gets in the way. I’m glad there are books like this I can escape into and dream of being there. A wonderful way to spend your time and a credit!
I read this a few years back and thought it was a good read, but as an audio book, it is boring.
Likes intelligent mysteries, spy thrillers, world history, most anything Roman. Hates bad writing.
Bill Bryson fans, please don't hate me. I'm actually one of yours. However, I grew as weary of this book as Bill must have felt slogging across the Appalachian Trail. The story starts out strong, as Bill prepares for the adventure by a hilarious visit to his local sporting goods store. It builds nicely in momentum as he and his less than stalwart companion travel to the hinterlands of Georgia and embark on the Trail. They immediately encounter the eccentrics that populate Bryson's books, and Bill makes the most of his raw material. But all too soon the narrative deteriorates into the usual "man against mountain" (or ocean, jungle, outer space, or whatever) story, with the usual overwhelming circumstances, narrow escapes from the jaws of death, etc. Some people like reading about this kind of thing. I do not. As the book loses its strength (along with the hikers' resolve), and similar scenes seem to reoccur (bad weather, impossible terrain, psychological weariness), Bill interrupts his trip to take a break. He should have realized there and then there wasn't a complete book to be had from the experience. It's always a pleasure to hear Bill Bryson read his books. I imagine he's the kind of guy you'd like to hang out with for a beer or two (or three), soaking up his quirky sense of humor and basking in his overall bonhommie. But not this book, for this reader/listener, at least not after the first few chapters.
I love any book where Bill is traveling. I would recommend, if you can, starting out in England, with Notes from a Small Island while he lived in England and then I'm a Stranger Here Myself as he returns home after 20 yrs in Britain. Then, you can go for a into the Woods, go to a Sunburned Country and Africa in any order. When you go on the road with Bill, you will wish you were there with him and you will laugh out loud in public. He has a dry sense of humor and a wry way of looking at things. If only he would give me a heads up the next time he goes.....Meanwhile, I look forward to his next trip.
Imagine a rodeo performer whose animal refuses to buck or kick. Without that recalcitrant animal to play off of, the rodeo rider is pretty boring. Bill Bryson is like such a rodeo rider with his chosen subject matter the animal to be ridden. When first reading Bryson, all we see is the bucking and whirling of the topic at hand under Bryson’s acerbic wit. After awhile however we begin to notice that the material, like a tired old bronc, isn’t really bucking all that much, but the cowboy has to keep on throwing spurs, and waving his arm in an attempt to convince the judges of his riding skill.
So it is that Bryson can barely hoist a backpack over his soft, flabby shoulder in the beginning of the book, but a little while later he’s self-righteously ripping on Americans for not walking more in their daily routines. At one point he’s complaining about the disruption of nature by America’s crass consumer culture – all the while being an enthusiastic participant – and the next he’s complaining with equal vigor that America’s parks ought to be more like Europe’s where there’s more civilization interspersed with the nature trails.
And on and on. Any one of his points can be taken at face value and be found to have some merit. But it’s like our hypothetical rodeo cowboy. After awhile you realize that he’s doing more hand waving and kicking of spurs than the ride really warrants. When read and considered as a whole one finds Bryson often contradicting his criticisms with his own behavior, and most of his critiques of America readily apply to any developed, affluent society.
A transplanted Englishman, I spend my time on biography, history and military books. I appreciate good English and good narration.
Bill Bryson, once again, entertains as he writes. Travel books are the notoriously self undulgent perogative of the author and rarely well written. Usually they throw a favorable light on the author more than inform the reader. Bryson has not fallen into that trap. I was interested in the Appalachian Trail and he gave me a real insight into what life would be like. His people characterizations by dailogue are great fun; but when he describes situations he falls into the trap of using numerous qualifying adjectives and comparative adverbs, in order to add humor. When this happened I found myself going back to my English class "...use the right noun and you need no adjective, use the right adjective and you need no preceding adverb..." all of which would have given his writing more brevity, thus more wit. In these passages, I found Bryson trying too hard. However, he minces the trail talk with observations about History, the Forest Service and other facets of American life, all backed up by surprising statistics. Most of us leave a little greener and disliking bureaucracies even more, I suspect. A great read, only 5 hours, and I'll read him again. By which I mean 'I'll listen again" for Bryson has a gentle voice which provides soothing listening.
This is my first Audible book, and I abosultely loved it. I've recently developed a fascination for hiking, and I listened to it on a vacation trip from New Jersey to Maine. I really wish an unabridged version was available. I didn't want the story to end. Did Bill ever make it to Katahdin?
This book is a light, fun read. The two characters are great together. You will also learn a bit about the Appalachian Trail and hiking.