It’s not just a comedy book. It’s not just a travel book. It’s not just a memoir. It’s not just a book about wilderness conservation.
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson is all of these things. I can’t believe it’s been in print for 18 years (it’s even been made into a movie that’s already out on DVD!) and I just now got to it. (Thank you, Dad, for lending it to me.) But the good news is, Bryson has written a number of other books since then, and now I have a whole list of books to add to my To Read list.
This is at least the third travel memoir I’ve read in the past year (also Wild by Cheryl Strayed and Almost Anywhere by Krista Schlyer), and it’s a genre I’m enjoying.
I loved A Walk in the Woods because it wasn’t a big story. Bryson doesn’t have any huge revelations. It wasn’t a particularly neat story. He and his friend Stephen Katz don’t actually walk the entire Appalachian Trail. It’s not just a laugher but it’s not just a heavy contemplation of American’s disregard for the majesty of nature either. It’s both. Bryson’s humor isn’t mean. The book jacket says he “meets a bizarre assortment of hilarious characters,” but I appreciated how Bryson poked fun without taking advantage of the real people he met on the trail.
He tells a great story, like a good storyteller would.
I liked A Walk in the Woods so much, it inspired me to outline another book for myself to write. I have, what, one almost-finished manuscript and three complete outlines for books I need to write? I need another? Apparently yes. This is how an artist works. Or, at least this artist. If I write the ideas down, I can return to almost-finished manuscript. In any case, A Walk in the Woods makes me think I can write a travel memoir about my travels in a 1983 RV with my second husband. It’s not a big story either, but it could be fun.
In any case, if you haven’t read A Walk in the Woods yet, pick it up. It’s interesting. It’s informative. It’s fun.