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on 16 May 2001
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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on 16 July 2003
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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VINE VOICEon 4 September 2006
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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on 11 January 2005
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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Bill Bryson, the author, used to be a fairly close neighbor. His rendering of this book is so close to the man. It is one book filled with humor and this is a man that is filled with humor. What we need to know at the outset is that Bryson is not taking this hike to ease his inner turmoil,
Oh, no, he wants to lose weight. He is a middle aged man, a little doughy and a good hike will be great for him. Little dies he know.

Bryson and his friend, Stephen Katz start their hike in Georgis. What they discover is that they are in deep woods, way over their heads, carting too much stuff, and probably not meant for this hike. They do not finish the Appalachian Trail, but Bryson does finish in bits and pieces. Stephen Katz falls off the ladder, but before he goes, it is an often hilarious trek. When I first read this book. It was one of the best books of the year for me. It helped that I knew the author, not well, but knew him. I gave copies to my family and friends for Christmas that year, and they all agreed with me.

Some people were upset with Bryson's take of the trail. At that time, not many people could survive the grueling ordeal. Now, it is a must for many people. But,Bryson picked fun at the government and organizations at that time who supported and maintained the trail. Many people started the trail after reading this book, much better prepared, and in much better shape. As we know the film starring Robert Redford is in theaters now. It has mixed reviews, Redford is really too old, but there you have it. The book is superb, if you have not read it, please do.

Recommended. prisrob 09-06-15

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on 24 March 2001
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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VINE VOICEon 11 September 2004
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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on 12 December 2015
Bill's adventures on the Appalachian trail are compulsive reading. I can't imagine why anyone would put themselves through such an ordeal, but thoroughly enjoyed his and Katz's adventures in the woods. Great book. Recommended.
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on 22 August 2005
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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on 26 February 2003
I am an avid reader of Bill Bryson and this was the last of his books I have had to read. A walk in the woods is about a hike along the Appellation trail, which ranges for 2,200 miles from Georgia to Maine on the East Coast of America. It was also nice to hear from Kats again who joins Bryson on the trail, those of you who have read Neither hear or there will remember him.
I was a bit apprehensive about buying A walk in the woods for some time. After all hiking is quite a personal thing and hard to make an into an interesting subject for people who weren't there but wow he's done it, fitted in his usual informative humour we've come to love and expect. Though I think he's done much more whilst its not his funniest work there is something else which is emotion. Not just the emotion of a long hike in the wilderness that only a fellow hiker would understand but the emotion of Centralia near ghost town caused by a mine fire and other places and people such as Chicken John who I'll let you read about for your self.
For anyone who has been any were along the East Coast you will be able to relate to the terrain and a few places such as the Smoky Mountains in TN or Mt Washington in NH and every were in between. My verdict is that A walk in the woods in one of my favourite books but not in the same way as his other books which I loved well worth a buy!!!
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