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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars At his absolute best... for a while!
Having read all of Bill Bryson's travel books, this was the last one left. I hadn't read this because I had been told it was one of his weaker novels but I decided, through no other reason that I needed a hit of Bryson, to read it. People couldn't have been more wrong. From the very initiation of assesing the feasibility, to arranging for Katz to accompany him to the...
Published on 16 May 2001

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK if it's your first Bryson read.
There's no questioning Bryson's flair for laugh-out-loud (embarrasing on the train) anecdotes. A walk in the woods is peppered with hilarious moments from Bryson's trek along the grueling 2000 mile Appalachian Trail, with his home-town-friend and reformed alcoholic, Katz. When I say he hiked the Appalachian Trail, I mean he only hiked 870 miles of it, missing out north...
Published on 24 Mar 2001


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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars At his absolute best... for a while!, 16 May 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: A Walk In The Woods (Paperback)
Having read all of Bill Bryson's travel books, this was the last one left. I hadn't read this because I had been told it was one of his weaker novels but I decided, through no other reason that I needed a hit of Bryson, to read it. People couldn't have been more wrong. From the very initiation of assesing the feasibility, to arranging for Katz to accompany him to the purchasing of his equipment (the careful selection process and how easy it is for us to get blinded by science - ie ripped off) and the purchase of 'a large knife for killing bears and hillibillies.' Bryson is at his absolute best. His encounters along the trail and Katz anti-social, childish antics make the first 150 pages more than laugh out loud funny. I couldn't have been more suprised. The encounter with the, erm... 'bear' and Katz' reaction compared to the wimpy Bryson is simply classic.
And then halfway through it stops.
They leave the trail to take some time off and from then on, I tried hard but it never seemed to pick up again, it was funny but you no longer felt you were joining you old mate Bill on this adventure, but just reading a somewhat disjointed collection of tales. Also, after they leave the trail, the book becomes bogged down in history which some may like, but personally, I was more interested in the humor which in the second half is often lacking. However, halfway through this book, I can guarantee theat you will have contemplated at least once, trying to walk the trail - even just a part of it! If flabby, smoking, unhealthy eating Billy boy can do it, I'll bet you I can!
Still, Bryson is and always will be in my mind, a pure genius and this book is well worth the money even just for the first 150 pages and maybe it was just me, no-one else seems to have found this a problem - maybe I'm just thick!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bryson's Hilarious Hike, 16 July 2003
By A Customer
This book made me chuckle within the first ten minutes (and that is an unusual sight believe me as I'm usually a miserable person). Bryson bares all of himself for the world to see. His attitude, sense of humour, determination and stamina accompanies his every step across the longest continuous footpath in the world. His honesty is breath of fresh air which many forty somethings who want to be fitter and younger will identify with.
I listened to this on a long train journey, shut my eyes and I was there.... in his sleeping bag, itching at the thought of the insects.... smiling at the thought of his mad travel companion and chuckling at his sarcastic comments, which are sharp, witty and ones you would want to remember. The characters he meets on his journey are just great. A real insight into other people's alternative lifestyles. I enjoyed this more than the Australian 'Down Under' one which has put me off ever visititng the place. Bryson seems to be at his best when stressed.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Walk in the Woods, 22 Aug 2005
This review is from: A Walk In The Woods (Paperback)
Stupendously funny! My wife hates it when I laugh out loud when reading a book, and I had to keep apologising. I tried to stifle a laugh, but the next line makes it burst out. Probably the funniest book I have ever read. Not only makes you want to be there but also forces you to buy every book he has ever written. I read his 'Short History of Nearly Everything' and 'Dictionary of Troublesome Words' almost immediately.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Perfect holiday reading, 11 Sep 2004
By 
T. Bently "tbently" (Berkshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: A Walk In The Woods (Paperback)
This Bryson tome differs from earlier outings in that he drags along a reluctant companion with him, as he embarks on the epic Appalachian Trail through rural wooded America. The relationship with the grumpy Katz is one of the best things in the book as they form an unusual bond despite the latter's evident dislike of physical exercise.
Unfortunately Katz's co-starring role doesn't last all the way through and the bits were he's absent are not quite so compelling although meetings with a group of posh hikers and an incompetent but know-it-all teenager provide highlights. Bryson and Katz's glee when they return to comfort-laden civilization is hilarious.
Overall, I liked this as much as the other Brysons especially as it isn't overloaded with facts and figures, which I thought unbalanced "Down Under".
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and informative read, 22 Nov 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: A Walk In The Woods (Paperback)
A ' Walk In the Woods' by Bill Bryson - I found to be a both interesting and amusing recount of trekking the Appalachian Trail in the Eastern United States. Bryson's style in this book is to switch between the narrator and knowledge-giver throughout. With the aid of a helpful annotated map at the beginning of the book, I was constantly flicking to and fro to pinpoint wherever a particular episode of the story was taking place. Bryson's perceptions of the various other 'AT' trekkers and dwellers , I found to be hilariously spot-on. Katz was constant as the ever grumbling but inherently stalwart friend who agreed to accompany him on the journey. The grizzly and brown bear data was informative and horrifying. I now know which bear to stay still for and which one to turn and run quickly away from in order to evade! The true magnitude of the task at hand was brought home when after arriving in Gatlinburg after what they thought to be a heroic effort , Bryson and Katz clapped eyes on a map of the full trail length from Georgia to Maine. They realised that they had only done two inches of the four feet map !
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark and deviously funny! from John T, 26 Mar 2001
By A Customer
Dark and deviously funny is how I would describe "A walk in the woods". To say it is a book with a conscience would maybe over emphasise its informative content and trivialise the book's deviously funny side. Bryson weaves a story of a well-meaning adventurer that gets caught out by the size of his ego. A 22000 mile journey that was to trouble him like nothing he had done before, yet was to deliver us a book that will only give you trouble if you don't like to laugh! Bill Bryson tells the story effortlessly moving through anecdotes and facts about his environment that can be so darkly humorous you are not sure whether to laugh or cry. Whether it is his annoyance with the occupants of the trail or his fear of bears, Bryson eloquently describes his feelings with verve and intense humour. His story will leave you laughing until the last of his tales fade from the mind. If there is one lesson Bill has taught me after reading this it would be to not read about killer bears if you want to go and sleep in their back yard! A great book which I would recommend to anyone.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Adore him, he deserves it, 10 Sep 2005
This review is from: A Walk In The Woods (Paperback)
Bryson is one of the best travel authors in the history of the genre. He combines a sharp observing mind, with a huge dose of knowledge, throws in an English style humour and thus has found a great way to describe his travels.
In this volume he starts walking the Appalachian Trail with an old friend who he hasn't seen for years, recovering alcoholic Katz. They start down south, though it is still the end of the winter and have to survive snow and cold. After quite a while they realise that they will never make it all the way to Maine. From there on they do walk parts of the trail, together or alone. Through endless woods, where on some days they meet some other hikers, on other days nobody at all. A story filled with the pros and cons of modern hiking equipment, the eternal search for water, small town villages, bears and moose's, snickers and pasta, shelters and nights in tents.
Bryson's sense of humour makes the story a great read, though, imho he is better when describing people, hence when he travels from city to city.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved It, 11 Jan 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: A Walk In The Woods (Paperback)
I am a great Bill Bryson fan, and I loved reading this book.
Although, to tell the truth, it was so realistic that I felt I was camping out with him. I felt so relieved when he finally reached a decent place to spend the night, or when he found a supermarket where he stocked up on mostly junk food.
My heart went out to Katz, who stoically brought up the rear (and sometimes the front).
I tell you, I felt as if I walked every inch of that way with them and I was very happy when it finally got to the end. I was exhausted.
I felt I had to go the whole way with him, otherwise he might never make it!
If you don't want to get exhausted, worried about being attacked by bears, poisoned by mice dung or just plain lose your way or starve, go for some lighter Bryson reading where he gets in a car and travels somewhere relatively safe (like Britain).
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully funny, 4 Sep 2006
By 
Hugh Sutherland "hughs1206" (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Walk In The Woods (Paperback)
Two chracteristics that are fantastic to have are humour and wit and Bill Bryson has them in abundance. To write humour with such a comanding voice is an admirable quality indeed. The book is well written, planned, informative and funny.

My only comment is that towards the end the geographical, historical and geological information became a bit repetitive and I did find my interest waning. Aside from this it is another solid effort from a fantastic author.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK if it's your first Bryson read., 24 Mar 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: A Walk In The Woods (Paperback)
There's no questioning Bryson's flair for laugh-out-loud (embarrasing on the train) anecdotes. A walk in the woods is peppered with hilarious moments from Bryson's trek along the grueling 2000 mile Appalachian Trail, with his home-town-friend and reformed alcoholic, Katz. When I say he hiked the Appalachian Trail, I mean he only hiked 870 miles of it, missing out north and south Carolina. 870 miles is comendable, but it was a little bit of a dissapointment. The main nag I have is a trait that affects quite a few of Bryson's works, that is a tendency of his to get bogged down in facts and figures or gratuitous history lectures. A walk in the woods, I have to admit, is Bryson's biggest perpertrator of this crime. I think he struck the best balance between facts and anecdotes in Notes from a Small Island. However, maybe I'm a bit of simple minded young chap, you might be more embracing of Bryson's love of facts and figures. And if this is your first Bryson you will be hard pressed not to laugh out loud at least once.
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