A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

Bill Bryson

Book cover

Like Elise, I LOL’d quite a bit while reading this (often while trying to read her a passage out loud). Bryson is a fun writer and I definitely wouldn’t mind reading more by him. I was disappointed, though, that BB didn’t end up walking the part of the AT that goes right by where I used to live! (in southern VA)

Besides just having an enjoyable reading experience, the biggest takeaway I had from this book was BB’s commentary on the neurotic relationship that Americans have with nature. He talks about how Americans tend either to clear out nature completely to build civilization or to wall it off completely to keep it wild. He favors a golden mean where nature and civilization coexist–for example, wanting the AT to meander through farmland at times (as he says hiking trails in Luxembourg do) rather than stay completely in the forest, and I agree that it sounds like a pretty nice idea. I guess for that to work, you have to have farmland that is picturesque and doesn’t look/smell like Mordor, though.

My Goodreads rating: 3 stars