A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail, by Bill Bryson
Rating: 🌳🌳🌳🌳 /5
Genres: Humor, Nature Writing, Travel Writing, Non-Fiction
Summary: A funny, informative, heartwarming, sobering, and sometimes irritating tale of one man’s attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail.
A Walk in the Woods follows Bryson and his faithful, if inconveniently out of shape, companion Stephen Katz as they make their way from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail. As they attempt to thru-hike the AT, Bryson utilizes his piercing wit to describe potential pitfalls of the trail (bears!), the absurdity of hikers even less experienced than him, and the importance of conserving this important natural space.
What we liked the most about this book is how Bryson wove his humorous personal story together with the history of the AT in order to highlight the ecological value of natural spaces. Enthusiasts of both nature and native plants will appreciate that the Smokies “harbor an astonishing range of plant life—over 1,500 types of wildflower, a thousand varieties of shrub, 530 mosses and lichen, 2,000 types of fungi. They are home to 130 native species of tree; the whole of Europe has just 85.” And of course this abundance of flora leads to the conclusion on the following page that “Rich plant life naturally brings rich animal life.”
Bryson calls for readers to realize “that people and nature could coexist to their mutual benefit,” and at Direct Native Plants we couldn’t agree more. Here we understand that including native plants in at-home gardens can only help to improve the biodiversity of plants and animals in cities and suburbs where habitat has become dangerously fragmented.
The only negative feedback we have about this book is that Bryson can be occasionally mean-spirited in his treatment of other hikers. However, some may argue that his portrayal of novice and often rude hikers provides an honesty that makes Bryson’s journey realistic and relatable. We leave it up to you to make your own judgement.
Overall, we highly recommend this book! It is laugh-out-loud funny balanced with poignant observations and descriptions of landscapes that are both beautiful and dangerous. We give it 4 out of 5 Trees!