As I mentioned in my sidebar when I put up the picture there, Joe picked this book up at the used book sale for twenty-five cents (just typing that makes me grieve, yet again, the loss of the cents symbol that used to be above the 6 on the keyboard, but I digress). He went through it at high speed -- unusual for one who usually takes his time with his books, savoring them -- frequently interrupting his reading to share a tidbit with me. He loved it so much that I knew I would have to read it. The last time this happened was in 1968 when he'd picked up Steinbeck's Travels With Charley, a book I still remember with great fondness.
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It prolly doesn't take a genius to realize that walking in the woods is not on my top ten list of favorite activities. I don't detest it, mind you, but twenty minutes every year or two satisfies that urge, and hiking the length of the Appalachian Trail is even more remote for me than skydiving would be.
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But much as one doesn't have to like the protagonist to appreciate a good movie (We're watching Masterpiece Theatre's "Cousin Bette" at present and talk about an unlikeable main character! But it is superb drama and if you have Netflix, you might consider putting it in your queue), one does not have to have any interest whatsoever in a backpacking adventure to appreciate the quality of the writing of this book. Bryson hikes with an old long-lost friend named Katz, who seems only slightly more of a plausible candidate that me for such an undertaking. The two of them plod forth, day after day, getting in and out of some difficult situations and meeting some of the finest, most colorful characters I've encountered anywhere, not just in the middle of the woods. You just can't help rooting for them. Interspersed with the tale of their pilgrimage are facts and stories and mythology about the AT, presented in palatable and interesting form. A splendid book. I'd give it an "A."