The Appalachian Trail covers 14 states, and over 2,000 miles. It stretches along the East Coast of the United States, from Maine in the north to Georgia in the south. It is famous for being the longest continuous footpath in the world. (Compare this with the Pennine Way, which is a mere 250 miles long.) It snakes through some of the wildest and most spectacular landscapes in America, as well as through some of its most poverty-stricken and primitive backwoods areas - 'redneck' country - Moonshine, Lil’ Abner, 'There’s bears in them thar hills.' Remember the film Deliverance?
God only knows what possessed Bill Bryson, a reluctant adventurer if ever there was one, to undertake this gruelling hike. Perhaps it was just a long-held ambition to lose weight: he has lost two stone so far. As he recently wrote from the trail to his publisher: ‘Speaking of vigorous exercise, boy have I just had some. Maine was a bitch. I want you to come back and walk it with me so that when you die if you go to hell you will be able to say: “Call this hell? Try walking across Maine in August.'"
Reared in the tradition of Mark Twain, James Thurber, and S.J. Perelman, Bryson used his many years in Britain to soak up a peculiarly English sense of irony and humour and to hone a laugh-out-loud style that is uniquely, hilariously, his own.
©2004 Bill Bryson (P)2004 Random House Audiobooks
The first third of this story had me laughing so hard I cried. I enjoyed the last third very much too. It lost my attention somewhat in the middle though when the story, and Bryson literally, got off track. Even so I would thoroughly recommend it. Bryson's voice, reading his own story, is such a pleasure to listen to.
As Bill Bryson is a favourite author I looked forward to hearing him read his own works. What a delight it is to listen to his gentle voice as he and Katz plod through primeval woods in their effort to be less like cupcakes. I listen to audio books whilst walking for exercise and could walk for hours being entertained by Bryson's wonderful sense of humour and irony. Highly recommended.
I disagree with the previous reviewer who didn't approve of Bill Bryson's narration. I find that I prefer it when Bill narrates his books, especially A Walk in the Woods as he is more able than any to get across the real feelings he experienced on his adventure. For a travel book like this one that has to count for something.
"Very funny & more interesting than it should be"
It strikes me that a true account of every footstep on the Appalachian trail would be extremely tedious. It's a good job, then, that Bryson's includes his signature dry humour, a great deal of the usual fascinating and bizarre historical anecdotes and comic relief in the shape of Katz, his walking companion.
I chose this over the unabridged version as I much prefer Bryson's own narration to William Roberts excitable and overstated delivery. Besides, it's not much different in length!
Bill Bryson, has the great knack of writing in a manner that makes you feel as if he is telling the story just for you. His narrative flows smoothly from page to page and he is as comfortable laughing at his own foibles, as he is at pointing out those of others. If you have read Bryson before then you will enjoy this book. If you have never read Bryson then try this book, because it is good, but not his best, so if you enjoy it then you will enjoy exploring his other works. I also like the way that he narrates his own work. The title of this review sums up my feedback, so if you are looking for an entertaining read that is not too " heavy" then this could be for you.
"Stop the DIY? No Way!"
Having listed to the sample of both the unabridged version read by an actor and the abridged version read by Bill Bryson, Bryson wins hands down.
Only Bryson can really deliver the pithy, dry humour in his book, rather than the overeager delivery of an actor. As good a job as the actor does, it misses the point and reduces the enjoyment.
A Walk in the Woods is all about the dry humour, it has me laughing out loud, especially Katz the anti-anti-hero in this tale. Bryson's has a wicked eye for the ironic details of life's encounters and tribulations.
I definitely recommend the Bill Bryson narration if you enjoy a dead pan dry delivery, that's kinda the whole point of dry humour, it needs a dry delivery!
If you go into the woods today, your in for a big surprise!
"Great listening to a good reader"
I enjoyed listening to this Audible version far more than I enjoyed reading the book itself. It is still a bit repetitive but whereas reading grew monotonous, listening proved irresistible, especially read by Bill Bryson. This tale of trying to walk the Appalachian Trail amazes and horrifies in equal measure. We root for Bryson and Katz as they struggle through awful conditions and applaud when they succeed. I couldn't believe that they could even think of setting out, so unfit and ill prepared for a difficult task. I marvelled at what they achieved, an excellent narrator taking us along with him right to the end.
really enjoyed his tale of his walking the trail. you could easily grasp the enormity of the task.
"Funny and entertaining"
A funny account of the quirky journey of a mis-matched pair exploring new paths - literally and figuratively. With the author narrating each step, he made you feel like you were there - without the aching feet and bruised shoulders.
If you like the book, check out the film.
"A walk in the woods"
An excellent book - I have read the print version several times - hugely entertaining and laugh out loud funny in places but also full of facts. Bryson reads well, and I can't wait to see the film.
"I ...wood...recommend this..."
A great story, particularly nice to be read by the author. I'd recommend reading this as well!
"Laugh out loud funny, and fascinating"
Bill Bryson reads his book wonderfully. The ecological troubles and the beauty of the woods are contrasted with some great dialogue and immense fun as two middle aged friends struggle to walk the Appalachian Trail.
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