Saturday, July 14, 2012

Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods Book Club

A new friend and I recently connected with a discussion of books.  She had recommended to me Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods and told me how humorous it was, so I was sold and ordered myself a copy from the library (attempting to save trees and money while keeping our libraries in business).  Brutally vivid descriptions, "If the mattress stains were anything to go by, a previous user had not so much suffered from incontinence as rejoiced in it"  (81), alarming statistics (six deaths on Mt. Washington's slopes in the first half of 1996), and hilarious analogies fill the pages:

So woods are spooky.  Quite apart from the thought that they may harbor wild beasts and armed, genetically challenged fellows [think The Hills Have Eyes] named Zeke and Festus, there is something innately sinister about them, some ineffable thing that makes you sense an atmosphere of pregnant doom with every step and leaves you profoundly aware that you are out of your element and ought to keep your ears pricked.  Though you tell yourself that it's preposterous, you can't quite shake the feeling that you are being watched.  You order yourself to be serene (it's just a woods for goodness sakes), but really you are jumpier than Don Knotts with pistol drawn.  Every sudden noise [. . .] makes you spin in alarm and stifle a plea for mercy [ . . .].  Even asleep, you are a coiled spring.  (44-45)

This memoir retells not only 870 miles walked on the Appalachian Trail, but also uncovers a touching friendship which had not been nurtured since childhood.
Watershed Nature Center in Edwardsville, IL
Not simply an entertaining, informative read, but also a motivator to walk in the great out-of-doors.  So, a leisurely stroll in the woods, perhaps a nature preserve, is a must for book club with a backpack loaded with water, Snickers bars, Slim Jims, and raisins.

Bill Bryson


  1. Almost finished reading this now on the heels of Cheryl Strayed's WILD-- loving it!

  2. Yes! I was sad to come to the ending of Wild. :) A Walk in the Woods has the same feel, but the male perspective, don't you think?