Release Date: December 26th, 2006
Genre: Non-Fiction, Travel
Bill Bryson, whose previous travelogues ‘The Lost Continent’, ‘Neither Here Nor There’, and ‘Notes from a Small Island’ have garnered the author quite a following, now returns to his native United States after more than two decades of living abroad.
In order to rediscover America by, as he puts it, “going out into an America that most people scarcely know is there,” he set out to walk, in the company of Stephen Katz, his college roommate and sometime nemesis, the length of the Appalachian Trail. His account of that adventure is at once hilarious, inspiring, and even educational.
I can’t get this book out of my head. I keep thinking about it, and every time I do, it puts a smile on my face. It really was that memorable and that fun. There was never a dull moment. And this is non-fiction. Obviously I don’t read a lot of non-fiction. Just a smattering here and there. But I can never turn down a Bill Bryson book. I just love his sense of humor. I fell in love reading In a Sunburned Country and I loved this book just a tad more. Why, you ask? Well, it’s set in the United States. On the Appalachian Trail. Something I’ve wanted to do for awhile was hike the Appalachian Trail. Now. I’m no nutty thru-hiker. Sorry guys. 🙁 But I wouldn’t mind doing it in sections. Let me rephrase that. They aren’t nutty. Just really dedicated. And I am not that dedicated to hiking. But I do LIKE hiking.
Back to the book. So, I’ve always been interested in the Appalachian Trail. And I really enjoyed reading about it. Bill Bryson is so funny. And his encounters with other hikers on the trail had me giggling. And then, when he thought he saw a bear, that whole scene had me laughing out loud. And you know what else? I learned a whole darn lot too! Who doesn’t like to pick up knowledge while reading a fun book? If you say “Not me,” you are a dirty liar.
Why is there a Grizzly Bear on the cover? There are no grizzlies on the Appalachian Trail. But there are mooses (moose, meeces?), snakes, black flies, deer, rats, snakes, bobcats, and all sorts of birds. Some of which Bryson encounters. Hillbillies too. Not as bad as the ones in Deliverance, but still. And yes, the subtle nuances of that movie are discussed in the book. Fun times.
His hiking partner-in-crime was hilarious. Every time he got frustrated he would throw supplies down the mountain. Not smart, but very,very funny. I’m glad they both lost weight and had a blast while doing it. Well, maybe not a blast. But it was a learning experience. And something very difficult and very rewarding. I’m sorry they didn’t finish the whole thing, but over 800 miles of hiking is definitely nothing to sneeze at. They should both be very proud. And I so enjoyed going along for the ride with them. It was a pleasure. This book should be read by everyone.