In 2003, software engineer David Miller left his job, family, and friends to hike 2,172 miles of the Appalachian Trail. AWOL on the Appalachian Trail is Miller’s account of this thru-hike from Georgia to Maine. Listeners are treated to rich descriptions of the Appalachian Mountains, the isolation and reverie, the inspiration that fueled his quest, and the rewards of taking a less conventional path through life. While this book abounds with introspection and perseverance, it also provides useful passages about hiking gear and planning. This is not merely a travel guide; it is a beautifully written and highly personal view into one man’s journey and the insights gained by abandoning what is comfortable and routine.
©2011 David Miller (P)2012 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
"David Miller’s AWOL makes you feel the pain and joy of an Appalachian Trail thru-hike.... In vivid colors, David paints a picture of his memorable journey." (Larry Luxenberg Director of the Appalachian Trail Museum)
AWOL's experience allows the reader to feel like they are traveling step-by-step with him on his journey.
The narrator did not seem like the correct choice for this story. He had little-to-no inflection about any of the experiences on the Trail.
Any readers/listeners who liked Bill Bryson's "Walk in the Woods" might want to check out this book, but they should also be aware that this is a serious Trail journal. There are humorous moments in the book, but that's not the point of this book. Anyone who is serious about hiking the AT should probably check this book out, it is quite helpful.
A trope of many hiking books is how I hiked the Big Trail even though I'd never hiked before and was out of shape, started out with a pack full of useless stuff that I could hardly carry, and made a lot of other really stupid mistakes, until I gradually became competent and learned to love the trail. This theme gets old after a few books--no one, after all, can quite come up to Bill Bryson's level of incompetence or hilarity--so I was delighted to begin a hiking book in which the author was fit for the trail and knew what he was doing. And I continued to enjoy it. The author is one of those guys who regularly puts in 20-mile days--after all, he's there to hike--and doesn't seem to be a jerk to boot. I recommend this piece of hiking literature; it'll give you a feel for hiking the AT without having to hear some of the usual hiker neuroses.
As an avid hiker / backpacker who lives in the Appalachian mountains I found this book to be an enjoyable account of hiking the AT but I was constantly aware of the author's lack of descriptions about the natural world around him. It was just odd. These mountains are incredibly beautiful and, at times, simply awe inspiring. It would have been far more enjoyable if the author had told us more about the landscape he was traveling through. This book is more about the act of hiking and the people he encountered than it is about the trail or the beautiful mountains it passes through. This made the book seem a bit one dimensional to me. I do not intend for this review to be a slam or to take away from the positive reviews the book has rightfully earned. I guess I could say it's like reading a book about trout fishing without any meaningful descriptions of the trout. Enjoyable.....but leaves too much to the imagination.
With pretty solid writing skills, this author tells a straightforward account of a long-distance trail hike. There is less content spent on the personal growth aspect of his journey than some related authors like Cheryl Strayed (Wild), however the author's limited reflections on personal growth, politics, and relationships are thoughtful and interesting. This book is informative for aspiring AT hikers and entertaining for armchair hiking enthusiasts.
I enjoyed listening to the authors trials, tribulations and triumphs while taking some time away from his conventional life. Something I feel many long for but few actually do. I was surprised by how insightful the author is and felt myself wanting more of that inner voice. While the narration was acceptable, I felt it had too much of a melancholy tone that seemed a little off from what I envision the author's true persona to be.
I saw this book in a used paperback book section at the library, came home and purchased it and began listening to it right away. A good friend of mine had hiked a portion of the Appalachian Trail in 1981, I immediately thought of him and how he must have endured many of the hardships that are explained in this sojourn from South to North. David Miller is is a very gifted writer, and talented with witticism and able to explain without too much detail the little things that hampered his comfort on a daily basis while trekking the 2000+ miles, through 13 states. I immediately wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail but probably thought that I might be too old to do that, however the trail has been hiked by many geriatrics over the years so age or age gender has nothing to do with it. This is a must read book for anyone who enjoys hiking of any kind and can relate to the worn-out tennis shoes, mosquito bites and insects, wet clothes and the odd assortment of characters that can be met on the trail, as well as off the trail in the towns where the trail passes through.
If you want to learn about what it's like to hike the Appalachian Trail, you might really like this book. If you want to get into the mind of the hiker, read Cheryl Strayed "Wild" instead. David Miller, in AWOL, steered clear of most of his personal thoughts. He played it safe, and I don't really feel I know him after listening to this book. He wrote a diary of his daily experiences and published it as a book. I enjoy the outdoors and enjoyed comparing his hike with my cross country bike tours (you eat better bike touring). I ended out skipping a few parts in the middle because it was too repetitive. At the end, the author says he'd like to do the hike again, but I never gathered that from his daily entries. By the way, AWOL is his trail name. It's not about getting lost. Finally, the wrong narrator read this. His smooth voice never matched the character writing those words.
We've got him outnumbered; hope he can learn to like girly books.
David Miller's story of his hike along the AT compares favorably with Bill Bryson's rendition of his. It's different in that Miller wasn't a novice hiker or someone who's terribly out of shape in the beginning of the hike but slowly becomes accustomed to the grind as it goes on. He is in shape and is good with the pace almost from the beginning. I enjoyed the depiction of the other through hikers he meets along the way including the dreaded Steve O.His asides concerning both the changes in his life due to the loss of his job and the fact that the hike is taking him away from his wife and his daughters. He writes convincingly about the physical hardships of the trail and the joys of things like showers, clean clothes, and hot food. Relating the triumph he feels as he's finishing the last mile of the trail is inspiring. The narrator does a fine job with the material; an excellent five star listen.
At first, you think the build up of storyline will culminate in something wildly dramatic....b/c we've been raised to look for red herrings in writing & foreshadowing, it's tough to switch your mindset to one of just listening and being present with the reader. There are no dramatic twists or adrenaline fueled finales to chapters. ....There is plenty of action, but the storytelling is wholly un-manipulative. I really liked it.
....and I plan on listening to it again - which is always the true test as to whether I loved a book.
For anyone remotely interested in adventure, hiking, the Appalachian Trail or escaping the 9-5, this is an insightful and well-written account of one man's journey.
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