For someone with no affection for camping out (I like my comfy mattress and the convenience of indoor plumbing too much to appreciate roughing it), I love reading about bike treks (It’s Not about the Tapas), and other outdoor adventures quite a bit. Apparently vicarious adventure is my favorite sort of adventure.
Bill Bryson gives me lots of laughs along with the adventure. He also throws in some history and science lessons as well.
Now, a spoiler so if you’ll be bothered by that stop reading. But if you’re like my husband you’ll want to know this in advance or else you’ll be more bothered by finding it out after investing a lot of time reading (well, listening to the audio version). Bryson doesn’t actually finish hiking the whole trail. He hikes portions of it, and he skips other parts of it. If you don’t want to read a book about hiking the trail by someone who doesn’t hike 100% of it, skip this one. The fact that he doesn’t hike every step of it doesn’t bother me.
Disclaimer: If you read my disclaimer yesterday about potential profanity? Yeah, this one too. I kinda think there is a little bit, but I don’t really remember. It certainly wasn’t enough to stand out to me, but as I said yesterday, I have fairly high tolerance level for that sort of thing as I’m reading.
The Appalachian Trail trail stretches from Georgia to Maine and covers some of the most breathtaking terrain in America–majestic mountains, silent forests, sparking lakes. If you’re going to take a hike, it’s probably the place to go. And Bill Bryson is surely the most entertaining guide you’ll find. He introduces us to the history and ecology of the trail and to some of the other hardy (or just foolhardy) folks he meets along the way–and a couple of bears. Already a classic, A Walk in the Woods will make you long for the great outdoors (or at least a comfortable chair to sit and read in).
If you like Bryson, I also really liked his In a Sunburned Country, about travels in Australia. He’s got a lot of other books, but these two are the only ones I’ve read and liked (although there are still plenty of his books that I haven’t tried).
On Day 1 of this series (A Girl Named Zippy) Jessica at Quirky Bookworm mentioned his memoir, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir, and I do want to give that one a try.
If you like the hiking-the-Appalachian-Trail aspect of the book, the only other book of that type that I’ve read was Jean Deed’s There Are Mountains to Climb: An Inspirational Journey. I really enjoyed it, but it can be tough to find. She’s actually from the Indianapolis area, so most libraries around here carry it, but if you’re not local I’m not sure how much luck you’ll have at finding it in a library.
To see all the books featured in 31 Days of Great Nonfiction Reads, go to the series page.
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