Travel books don’t thrill me. Any book written about travel by Bill Bryson, however, does. He is able to communicate a feel for local culture (whichever culture that may be) in a way that makes you laugh out loud.
A Walk in the Woods was my first read by Bryson and in it he shares his attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail (all 2,100 miles of it!) with his friend, a recovering alcoholic. What ensues is hilarity. At the same time, I developed a deeper appreciation for the terrain of the Appalachian Trail while laughing through the various crisis they found themselves in.
From there, I gobbled up as many more of his books as I could, and as quickly as the magic land of Amazon would deliver them. Some of my favorites were: The Mother Tongue (English and How It Got That Way), Neither Here Nor There (Travels in Europe), In a Sunburned Country (Australia), A Short History of Nearly Everything, Made in America, and I’m a Stranger Here Myself.
♥ A Walk in the Woods, though, delivers comic musings that make me laugh out loud so often that I could get through a chapter and my sides would hurt. One of my favorite lines is and was:
“Daniel Boone, who not only wrestled bears but tried to date their sisters, described corners of the southern Appalachians as “so wild and horrid that it is impossible to behold them without terror.”
If you cringe at a cuss word now and again, prepare yourself. If the crass imagining of happening upon multiple bears in a wooded area seems too much for you, this might not be the book for you. If sentences like the following offend you, pick up a different book:
“What is it with this town? I’ve blown more intelligent life into a handkerchief.”
But… if you would like to be reminded of what humanity shares in common (spoiler alert: the ability to laugh at ourselves) and how that transpires as one man sets out on a grand adventure…pick. this. up.
And if you do and enjoyed it, or if you read any of his other books and enjoyed, feel free to share in the comments. I’m always ready for a discussion of another book by this hilarious observer of people and places.