A Book & Movie Review of A Walk In The Woods by Bill Bryson
Meet Bill and Katz
Bill is a man at a crossroads who decides to reconnect with nature in a big way by hiking the Appalachian Trail. But why? He is a wealthy author who is married and leads a very comfortable life. Bill is around middle aged in the book, which all but makes the adventure look like another mid-life crisis story. Along for the journey is his childhood adventure-hood pal – Stephen Katz – a man whose life is all but falling apart and has never stopped chasing a lifestyle of freedom and fun.
The mystery throughout the book is why someone like Bill, a man who seems to have everything going for him (job, family, retirement…), choose to pack up and leave his family for 6-8 months. The Appalachian Trial is considered to be an expedition, through the bush, too difficult for even well-trained athletes. For all you adventure lovers out there, I’m sure you can identify with his wanderlust and travel itch; Bill feels like something is missing in his life, and he wants an adventure that will allow him to break out of his comfort zone. Let the journey begin!
The Appalachian Trail
This trail is like no other. Try to visualize a 2,200 mile (3,500 km) marked hiking trail that runs through 14 different states in the eastern United States. The trail head starts at Springer Mountain, Georgia and traverses the terrain all the way up to Mount Katahdin in Maine. Completed in 1937, the trail took more than a decade of work, and continuous improvements are made to keep it maintained even today. Forest and wild lands comprise a large majority of the trail, although sometimes it cuts through roads, farms or small towns. Many enthusiasts claim that the Appalachian Trail is the longest hiking-only trail in the world.
Attitude Is Everything
There is definitely a lot of humor in this story, which keeps momentum for the impromptu hiking expedition. Neither Bill nor Katz are very experience hikers and certainly incur their fair share of problems and setbacks. It’s almost like they didn’t quite think things through before going?! (Haha) However, throughout the book, the author is great at projecting his own sarcastic sense of humor onto the journey. His description of certain events will be sure to make you laugh out loud unexpectedly (THE BEAR SCENE) – be careful of reading the book in public around audiences.
The Movie VS. The Book
There is a strong likelihood that people will prefer the book to the movie. For some reason the movie decided on casting older gentlemen (Robert Redford and Nick Nolte) rather than the middle aged men in the book. A different dynamic, but it definitely changes the flavor of the adventure. With most books, the descriptive language allows for more insight into Bill’s thought process and experiences throughout his adventure. Most of the character uniqueness is lost in the movie. Movie watchers will all most certainly enjoy Bill’s traveling companion Katz – much of the humor derives from the odd-couple inspired interactions between the two of them. Both mediums highlight the run-ins with strange people met on the trail, inclement weather and wild animals encounters. With any journey, a strong bond of reliance, companionship and comfort is needed – these qualities once shared between Bill and Katz are now reestablished by this bonding experience.
Read It Or Leave It?
We recommend the book over the movie. Why you ask? For many reasons. The book is able to capture a lighthearted and simple story told in a personal way. It is not going to win any awards, but it has a genuine message and some entertainment value. This book is for anyone who needs a little more travel inspiration in their life. For the curious travelers out there, it allows you to virtually experience the Appalachian Trail without actually having to hike it. If you happen to end up watching the movie, enjoy the panoramic vistas that highlight the most beautiful trail locations. All in all the book and movie have one thing in common; it’s a human story about getting out there in life to explore and break out of your mundane routines. It’s never too late to have adventures; always find time to find yourself, rediscover nature and find out what makes life worth living.
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