I love Bill Bryson’s books- I think we may even own all of them and his travel ones are definitely the best of the bunch. Despite a lot of them being written in the 1990s, and therefore a little outdated in places, they are still very funny and hit the mark. I decided to read A Walk in the Woods after returning from my Duke of Edinburgh expedition, and it absolutely hit the spot. The struggles with getting all of that kit into the rucksack, eating you weight in Snickers Bars, getting horribly lost and meeting all of the odd characters along the way are something any hiker will recognise and therefore get funny looks for when chuckling at it on the train.
In this one, Bryson decides to walk the Appalachian Trail which is one huge path through 14 states- I think possibly the longest in the world at roughly 2,180 miles long (but as Bryson points out, nobody can agree on precisely how long) and climbing the equivalent of 16 Mount Everests along the route. Impressive if you can do it, and certainly putting my DofE experience to shame, but unsurprisingly, Bryson only does about 1/3 of the length before giving up- which is still a bloody long way!
Throughout his adventure, he is accompanied by Stephen Katz his old friend who is horribly unfit, unaware of what he has got himself into and dreams constantly of what is on TV that night. There’s a point where Bryson suspects a bear outside their tents and Katz just does not care about their impending and bloody deaths. Although a book about walking doesn’t sound interesting to begin with, Bryson’s fantastic story-telling skills as well as unwittingly hilarious mishaps and witty anecdotes makes this worth reading whether you’re into walking or not. Apparently, they’re even making it into a film, which I can’t wait to see!