My husband accuses me of having had a humour bypass. I swear that man laughs at everything. And don’t get me started about his reaction to Far Side. His single glance at that Gary Larson cartoon can make someone in the other room rush to call 911. Me? I smile in my mind. Sometimes.
But there is one exception. Bill Bryson’s travel memoir, A Walk in the Woods, Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail. I’ve learned not to read that book in public places – especially not in a library, a coffee shop, or a crowded bus. Although I’ve read it numerous times, that book continues to make me snort with laughter. And that’s simply not pretty!
If you’ve seen the movie but not read the book, please forget everything you know about it. The wit, banter and droll self-deprecation did not transfer well to that film (IMHO). A Walk in the Woods chronicles Bryson’s attempt to hike the 2,100 mile-long (3,379.6 km) Appalachian Trail with Katz, Bryson’s unprepared, out-of-shape, polar opposite sidekick. A Walk in the Woods doesn’t only make me laugh, Bryson’s extensive knowledge of the trail’s history, his pointed questions, and his raising of environmental concerns always make me stop and reflect (and slide down a rabbit hole or two, of course).
Now, here’s a thought to consider. Every twenty minutes on the Appalachian Trail, Katz and I walked farther than the average American walks in a week.A Walk in the Woods, 1998, p. 128
A Walk in the Woods also propelled me on a scenic journey through the majestic wilderness of the Appalachian Trail. I so wanted to be there…but without carrying days worth of food or my bed. And then, of course, there’s Bryson’s obsession about being eaten by a bear – which I have to admit would also cross my mind.
Black bears rarely attack. But here’s the thing. Sometimes they do. All bears are agile, cunning and immensely strong, and they are always hungry. If they want to kill you and eat you, they can, and pretty much whenever they want. That doesn’t happen often, but – and here is the absolutely salient point – once would be enough.A Walk in the Woods, 1998, p. 23
I am a big believer that long-distance hiking (and any hiking, really) changes a person not only physically, but also mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Bryson brilliantly captures this as well.
I understand now, in a way I never did before, the colossal scale of the world. I found patience and fortitude that I didn’t know I had. I discovered an America that millions of people scarcely know exists.A Walk in the Woods, 1998, p. 274
Do you have a favourite travel book? Why not join us at Friendly Friday Challenge/What’s On Your Bookshelf and share it with us?
Friendly Friday Challenge
What’s On Your Bookshelf?
Sue, Jo, Debbie and I have been delighted to co-host this one-time combo challenge with Friendly Friday Challenge and What’s On Your Bookshelf. To join us and showcase your favourite travel book, you can share in the comments, pingback with your own post, or use the handy InLInkz bar below. Please be sure to tag both challenges (‘Friendly Friday’ and #whatsonyourbookshelfchallenge). We look forward to hearing your thoughts as well as your travel book suggestions!