A Walk in the Woods – Bill Bryson

A Walk in the Woods tells of Bryson’s attempt to walk the Appalachian Trail after discovering it in the woods near his house in New Hampshire.

Bryson recruits his acquaintance Katz out of fear of bear attacks, and the pair of them agree to tackle the 2100 mile route together. They buy new outdoor kit and set off full of optimism, which lasts for around the first mile. By this stage food has been discarded at the side of the trail and the futility of what they are trying to achieve has set in.

A story of middle-aged men who set out on a tough physical challenge, it is told with the humour and small details that regularly punctuate Bryson’s books.

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At Home – Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson’s At Home is an English history, told by moving through the rooms of his house. In this it follows on more from A Short History of Nearly Everything than from his travel writings.

I was expecting this book to examine the history of the physical house which Bill Bryson was discussing, but the method used of entering a room and then examining how this room came to be included in a house and why interesting features of that room are as they are worked well. However this is the main way in which each part of history is linked together, which removed the need to keep reading in order to see how they are all tied together, as we know that the only link is that all of the histories lead to an invention in common use today, or the history of a house layout being developed.

The histories discussed are well-researched, with all the details I had previously come across being correct, and each history is fascinating: once begun I found I generally had to read the whole history in one sitting. In spite of the lack of a story threading through the book, I would recommend it.