Review: A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

I stumbled upon A Walk in the Woods whilst looking for a film to watch a few weeks ago, and felt compelled to pick up a copy after realising that the film was based on a Bill Bryson novel by the same name (I still have yet to watch the film, and probably won’t, the book was just too good). Bill Bryson has a talent for making seemingly mundane topics absolutely fascinating, both through the quirky facts he presents through fastidious research and the method in which he tells them. Bryson’s books feel like he’s just chatting amongst friends.

“Hunters will tell you that a moose is a wily and ferocious forest creature. Nonsense. A moose is a cow drawn by a three-year-old.” – Bill Bryson

I first came across Bryson when I was in my early 20s with their well-known book A Brief History of Nearly Everything, and later read his book on the origin of the English language called Mother Tongue. Both were brilliant and I would highly recommend them. A Walk in the Woods is the retelling of Bryson’s hike of the Appalachian Trail in the early 90s. Much like A Brief History, it’s full of jaw-dropping facts, and anecdotes from other hikers, and is fantastically written. There were times where I was laughing so hard I was nearly brought to tears.

“That’s the trouble with losing your mind; by the time it’s gone, it’s too late to get it back.” – Bill Bryson

This isn’t a story of man’s search for meaning or even much of a heroic journey, it’s just a fascinating recount of a couple of mates in the outdoors scattered with laughs, stats and well-researched historical, and regional tales. If you want something light-hearted that may well inspire you on your own adventure, this is a great place to start. I don’t want to give too much away, but its worth checking out this town in Pennsylvania which has been burning since 1962. And this fact I found interesting: In ‘93 the average American walked 1.3 miles (2km) a week. A WEEK.

“There is no point in hurrying because you are not actually going anywhere. However far or long you plod, you are always in the same place: in the woods.” – Bill Bryson

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