15/03/2003

A Walk in the Woods (by Bill Bryson)

I have slightly mixed feelings about Bill Bryson's books. I think they're very well written, with brilliant observation and wonderful ironic humour - much more British than American, on the whole. On the other hand, they can be a bit over-detailed and long-winded, and I find he uses rather more bad language than I am comfortable with.

We picked up 'A Short Walk in the Woods' second-hand, and I was amused to find the title a typically British-style understatement. The 'walk' actually refers to the author's determination to walk the lengthy and strenuous Appalachian trail in the USA.

So the book charts Bill Bryson's preparation for the walk, and his setting out accompanied by his friend Stephen Katz. There are lots of amusing anecdotes, interesting background, and vivid descriptions which bring the trail to life.

While they decided not to walk the entire 2,200 miles of the Appalachian trail, they did achieve a significant amount.

I did find myself skimming in places, once the walk had started, as Bryson expounds on some of the flora and fauna he observes. And yes, there was some bad language which seemed entirely unnecessary. But on the whole, it was a very enjoyable book.

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