Radio Bristol Book Club: A Walk in the Woods - Birthplace of Country Music

Radio Bristol Book Club: A Walk in the Woods

Welcome to Radio Bristol Book Club! Readers from BCM and the Bristol Public Library are coming together each month to celebrate and explore one book inspired by our region’s rich Appalachian cultural and musical heritage. We invite you to read along and then listen to Radio Bristol on the fourth Thursday of each month at 11:00am when we will dig deep into the feelings and questions raised by the books, learn more about the authors, and celebrate the joys of being a bookworm! Let’s jump right in…

Who wouldn’t want to go for a walk with an old friend?

Sounds like a fun time, right? What about a 2,200 mile walk?

Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail documents just such a walk when Bryson decides to trek the entire length of the Appalachian Trail – from Springer Mountain, Georgia, to Mt. Katahdin, Maine. The trail from start to finish is a grueling 2,200 mile trip through 14 states and some of the most beautiful and treacherous terrain in the country. Every year, thousands attempt to “thru-hike” the trail from Georgia to Maine in one trip, and only about 25% will actually finish.

Three book covers for A Walk in the Woods: A bear looking out of the woods at the reader (left); A leaf and then the outline of a hiker and a bear in a circular graphic (center); Two hikers talking to each other (perhaps arguing) on a cliff edge (right).
Several versions of the cover for A Walk in the Woods, from Bryson’s obsessional focus on bears to a more graphic representation to the movie-of-the-book edition.

Seems like a worthwhile challenge for an experienced hiker to attempt, right? Except for one minor issue: Bryson has never actually hiked before. At all. Bryson and his equally unprepared friend Stephen Katz (who shows up at the airport woefully out of shape and with nothing but a duffle bag full of Snicker bars) set out to hike the entirety of the Appalachian Trail but soon discover that they might be in over their heads. What follows is a comical, yet heartfelt and sincere, memoir of the pair’s journey through portions of the Appalachian Trail and all of the adventures that go along with it. Part humorous memoir, part Appalachian Trail history, A Walk in the Woods will leave you itching to go explore the trail near and dear to everyone in Appalachia.

Bill Bryson, who has written such works as The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid and The Lost Continent, is an esteemed travel writer and memoirist who often uses a humorous tone to tell his stories. A Walk in the Woods is a wonderful story of the Appalachian Trail and those who have hiked it. Bryson’s adventures will leave you in awe, and often laughing, as he encounters the eccentric hikers, imposing wildlife, and difficult terrain, all while learning the art of hiking as he goes.

One of Bill Bryson’s Facebook profile pictures shows that the love he found for hiking on the Appalachian Trail has continued to take him onto other paths.

Make plans to join us on October 24 at 11:00am on the dial at 100.1 FM, streaming live on Radio Bristol, or via the Radio Bristol app – and be sure to read the book ahead of time and listen in as we discuss A Walk in the Woods! Many of the Radio Bristol Book Club books will be available at the Bristol Public Library or The Museum Store at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum so stop by to borrow or buy a copy! The librarians or our frontline staff will be happy to help you find the book.

And plan ahead: Future Radio Bristol Book Club picks include Ralph Peer and the Making of Popular Roots Music by Barry Mazor (November 21) and Serena by Ron Rash (December 19).

Amy Kimani is the Executive Director of the Bristol Public Library. When she is not working at the best job in the world, she is reading all of the books in her never-ending to-be-read list.

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