Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Walk in the Woods - by Bill Bryson

After selecting a string of rather didactic books (interesting though some of them were) our town's One Book One Community Committee decided to look for something fun for next year's read. To that end, we (the Committee) are considering Bryson's work about hiking the Appalachian Trail. I checked it out from the very library where I work, and took it home over the President's day weekend. I finished reading it in two days, and laughed out loud on so many occasions I lost count. Bryson and his friend Katz both out of shape, decide to hike the Appalachian Trail. Everything about his trip is funny, from going to the camping store to get outfitted for the trip, to finding his traveling companion, and the descriptions of other hikers, and helpers, he meets along the way. The book also has great geology, geography, and history lessons (but without being too didactic of course). And, to put icing on the cake, Bryson sings the praises of Laurie Potteiger an "Information Specialist...a mine of information" who works at the Appalachian Trail Conference headquarters in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia. Plus, he mentions libraries two times! In one case he explains that the walk to the public library in his own town of Hanover, New Hampshire is part of why it is a nearly perfect little town. In the other, he describes going to the Mt. Carmel, Pennsylvania Library and asking about the nearby town of Centralia, a town that was almost completely swallowed by an underground coal fire (a fire which apparently still burns today). At the Mt. Carmel Library he is provided with "three fat files bulging with newspaper and magazine clippings". Ahh, the good old days of vertical files. Do any libraries still maintain these?

It is very likely that the entire town of Bridgewater will be enjoying this book next spring.

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