It’s hard not to like Bill Bryson. He’s self-deprecating, he’s funny, he seems to know a bit about everything and he mocks America in the affectionate, knowing way that only someone who’s lived abroad for decades can. So when our out-of-shape middle-aged hero buys an absurd assortment of camping equipment and ambitiously sets off to hike the 2,200-mile Appalachian trail with his wacky sidekick, Katz, we can’t help but root for him to make it all the way from Georgia to Maine. Bryson weaves essential bits of American history throughout this 1999 memoir, introducing us to tiny mining towns we’ll probably never visit and leading us through vast forests we didn’t know were still there. And when, after walking hundreds of miles, Bryson decides to drive part of the trail, we understand. After all, he’s a regular guy like us — albeit, a smarter, more curious, Pulitzer Prize–winning version.
Autobiography / Memoir
Self-Help / Instructional