Tag Archives: A Walk In the Woods

Challenge Update, June 2018

2 Jul

This was a rough month for reading. School took over and my books have me stuck in a bit of a rut. I’m hoping July can turn that around as I’m traveling and have dedicated reading time on the planes. Well, hopefully, that will be the case. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in June:

A Walk in the Woods // Bill Bryson (5/5)

Yep. That’s it. I’m embarrassed to type this. I’m in the middle of many books but I’ve really fallen behind the curve this month and not been able to dedicate much time to reading. It’s really hitting me over the head now that things have slowed down. Wow.

When Are You Reading? Challenge

7/12
No change this month. I’ll start looking at books that will help me round this one out pretty soon. I usually start purposeful picking after the summer’s over to finish without much stress through the holidays.

Goodreads Challenge

24/55
I went from ahead to three books behind! This is literally the worst status I’ve ever had in my four years of doing this challenge. I’m really determined to make up some ground now. I don’t want to be behind again next month!

Book of the Month

With no competition, the winner this month is clearly A Walk In The Woods by Bill Bryson. This book was really enjoyable and would likely have been my pick with some other contenders. The story was well told and had a good mix of memoir and fact. I’ve enjoyed my Bryson reads so far so there are likely more coming.

Added to my TBR

Same as last month, I’m at 96. I’m a bit proud of that but I added more books than I finished, which is probably a terrible thing for someone trying to shrink her TBR. I’ll get over it.

  • Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. I found out this is set in Iceland and I’ll be visiting this summer. If I can read it before I go, that’d be great, but I’m excited to just enjoy it anyway.
  • Artemis by Andy Weir. I’ve been talking about how good Weir is lately so it just makes sense that I have to add his latest to my list. I know I can’t compare the two, but I know I will anyway.

Personal Challenge

I used these monthly posts to keep myself accountable to my personal goals for 2017 and I’m excited to do that again this year. You all were so supportive before.

  • Graduate and keep my 4.0- I got my final grade over the weekend and I got an A for the summer semester! One more class to go this fall and I’ll be done!
  • Travel to Europe with my husband- Everything is booked and bought. We’re leaving next month and I’m ecstatic! I’ll post when I get home.
  • Complete a race per month- I had my first triathlon of the summer this month. It went OK. I’ve been struggling with calf cramping and it hit me in the middle of the bike. I still had a PR on the course, but I felt I could have gone faster.
  • Complete a 2018 Weather Blanket- I’m caught up through May but I’ve got to do this month. I’ll get to it on a dull evening.

How are your challenges going so far? I hope you’re off to a good start If you love historical fiction, give some thought to my challenge for 2018, it’s fun!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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‘A Walk In the Woods’ Movie Review

19 Jun

Image via Movie Poster Shop

It’s been a while since I read a book that had been turned into a movie and it was a nice break. It let me say to my husband on Saturday, “I have to watch this movie!” I enjoyed A Walk In the Woods a lot as an audiobook and I was curious how it would be turned into a movie so it was a delight to see this and see how things developed.

Things I Thought Were Awesome

Nick Nolte. I had an idea in my heads of what Katz would look and act like, much of it derived from the narrator of the audiobook. Nolte didn’t hit it exactly, but he was pretty darn close! I enjoyed his portrayal and how he struggled with the hiking but became so much better as the film went on. When he wanted to give up, he let Bill talk him out of it. That was a lot of growth from when he got off the plane.

Changes That Didn’t Really Bother Me

Katz’s drinking. I’m glad this still got brought up. I thought with the direction the film was going that it would be cut since it was at the end of the book. It was one of Katz’s biggest demons and another big moment of growth for his character.

Running into bears. This was a bit much for me. The two did run into some kind of creature (I suspect a bobcat) but the encounter was nowhere near as exciting as the one in the film. It seemed a bit too convenient that the bears were scared off by the men in their tents. Honestly, that wouldn’t always work.

Cover image via Goodreads

Things That Were Taken Out and I’m Still Wondering Why

Nature facts. Toward the end, Bill goes off about the American Chestnut but it’s the first time he’s talked about nature or the trail at all for their entire trip. The book had Bill giving facts about the trail’s history and the landscape they’re walking through the whole time. Why take it out at the beginning and leave only the Chestnut?

Things That Changed Too Much

Not stopping in Tennessee. When Katz brought up fast forwarding the trip, I was ready for it. The Smokey’s were the worst part of the trip for both of them. I was really surprised when Bill kept going and they didn’t skip ahead to Virginia. That was a bit too much for me.

Not taking a break and coming back to it. I didn’t like the pace of hiking the trail in the book, but this was weird. Instead of taking the summer apart and Bill hiking parts of the trail by himself, they stopped completely in Virginia. In my mind, they weren’t as close to ‘finishing it’ as they came in the book. They had all of New England that wasn’t touched. Either way, the book and movie fell short of what I was hoping for in the story, but the movie even more so.

This was what I was looking for in a fun read about hiking and being outside. I’ve been couped up inside with school projects and I’d love to get out like Katz and Bill. Reader, have you seen the A Walk in the Woods movie? What did you think?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 13-June-2018

13 Jun

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I made better progress with The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver than I expected to, which was a welcome surprise. I figured out what the structure of the book is and I’m really intrigued to keep read it and see what happens!
I got a few runs in and made some decent progress on Dreams of Joy by Lisa See. I’ve enjoyed See’s writing in the past and this book doesn’t disappoint and I’m glad I’ve gotten to read it!
I’m afraid my progress has slowed with The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. I’m not as interested in it as I wish I were and it’s made me read less at night and find other things to do with free time during the days. I’m pushing just to finish in time for book club now.
I started a new audiobook in my car but not the one I thought I would. I’m reading The Fifth Assassin by Brad Meltzer. It’s the second in a series I started a few years ago (I’m seeing a trend) and I remember the previous book well enough but it’s getting mixed up with other Meltzer books to me. I’ll sort it out in time, haha.

Recently finished: I finished A Walk In the Woods by Bill Bryson late last week and I want to go hiking so badly now! It was a fun read and I meant to pick the movie up at the library and totally forgot. Darn! I hope I can watch this one soon, it seems like it would be a pretty funny film.

I posted my review of Paul Beatty’s The Sellout on Thursday and my book club reflection of it on Monday. It wasn’t a favorite of mine or my book club. Unpopular Opinion Alert!

Reading Next: No change on Brainiac by Ken Jennings. I’ve already had to renew it and I haven’t cracked it open. I really hope I can get to it soon!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: A Walk In The Woods by Bill Bryson (5/5)

12 Jun

I’ve read two Bryson books before this and liked them both. I saw this book at a used book sale around the time the film came out and decided to add it to my TBR. It was the first Bryson memoir I’d encountered and I ended up listening to it so I could enjoy it sooner. I really want to go hiking now.

A Walk In the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Apalachain Trail by Bill Bryson

Other books by Bill Bryson reviewed on this blog:

The Mother Tongue
Made in America

Summary from Goodreads:

The Appalachian Trail stretches from Georgia to Maine and covers some of the most breathtaking terrain in America–majestic mountains, silent forests, sparking lakes. If you’re going to take a hike, it’s probably the place to go. And Bill Bryson is surely the most entertaining guide you’ll find. He introduces us to the history and ecology of the trail and to some of the other hardy (or just foolhardy) folks he meets along the way–and a couple of bears. Already a classic, A Walk in the Woods will make you long for the great outdoors (or at least a comfortable chair to sit and read in).

I didn’t know what to expect from this book. I liked Bryson’s sense of humor and wit in the two books I’d read previously, both of which are non-fiction. I hoped it would translate to memoir as well. I was glad it did and really enjoyed the dynamic between Bryson and Katz at the beginning of the book. I felt the story changed a lot when they split up for the summer and it was never really the same when they rejoined each other. I did feel I was cheated a bit because I’d thought they were doing the trail in one stretch, not in a big stretch to start, small daily stretches with just Bryson in the middle, and then a short stretch together at the end. I understand it’s reality, it just wasn’t what I believed when I started out.

I felt Katz seemed very believable. He had his foibles but he was also a strong person and did his best to hike the trail. I did feel Bryson pained himself in a dazzling light, but what memoirist wouldn’t. It’s his story so he’s sure going to look good in it. The quick descriptions of his fellow hikers were fun but I wonder how much they would have changed if he’d stuck with them for any length of time.

For lack of other options, I’ll say Katz was my favorite character. I liked his devotion and obsession with modern life and technology and how that contrasted with his time on the trail and dedication to get up and walk every morning. His reluctance was clear and I kept hoping for him to have a change of heart, but I don’t think it ever came about.

I related to Bryson better. I’m someone who likes to finish something when I start it. I won’t complain, even if my decision is making me miserable. I put my head down and push on. I felt like Bryson was doing this in the early parts of the trail. I would have done the same. Fake it until you make it. He pretended he was having fun and enjoying himself even when he wasn’t.

Bill Bryson
Image via Amazon

I liked the first third of the book best; when Katz and Bryson were hiking the trail together. I could feel their excitement and their dread that the trail went on forever and they’d never reach Maine. Every minor setback felt like life-or-death and I could see how that would happen on the trail.

I was disappointed with the middle portion of the book when Bryson was hiking alone. I felt these were a bit melodramatic and filled with a bit more background on the trail and the Park’s Service than I wanted to hear. Other parts of the book, he mixed that information in well with the story, but the middle was a bit too heavy on history and background and light on hiking time. Probably because there wasn’t much.

My audiobook was narrated by Ron McLarty. I enjoyed his narration a lot though his accent threw me at times. It didn’t come out much, but when it did, I laughed aloud a few times. He had good inflections for Katz and Bryson and Bryson’s frustration came out well with McLarty’s voice.

Bryson has an appreciation of nature that’s mostly forgotten in our society today. The trip he took was guided with maps and involved minimal contact with the outside world. Today, that same trip would likely be taken with a cell phone and periodic Facebook updates for friends and family to know he was OK. It’s hard to escape nature but Bryson found some benefits from doing so.

Writer’s Takeaway: My favorite memoirs blend story with background and research and Bryson does this well. You learn about the trail, the area he’s in, the people who have been there before, and what led him there. It’s a great blend and rather than one story about walking a long distance, you get that plus four or five other areas which are well researched and where you learn a lot of related things. He’s a master of this as I’ve learned from his other books.

I enjoyed this book and really can’t say something too bad about it. Five out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
A Walk In the Woods by Bill Bryson (1998) | I’ve Just Finished Reading…
A Walk In the Woods | So Much To Read
A Walk In the Woods by Bill Bryson | Ton of Worms

WWW Wednesday, 6-June-2018

6 Jun

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I haven’t really touched The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver because of school. I thought I might get through some of it, but I’ve only just started chapter two. I think this one will be here for quite a while.
I’m about done with A Walk In the Woods by Bill Bryson. I’ve been really enjoying this story and Bryson’s story about hiking the trail. He does a great job of interweaving his story with the history of the area and leaving me feeling informed and invigorated to go for a hike!
I was sick last week so I didn’t work out much and as a result, I didn’t get through much of Dreams of Joy by Lisa See. I hope to keep making some progress on this during the week and then possibly do more for a long run this weekend.
The only book I’ve made decent progress on is The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. I’m not really enjoying this, per say, but I’m very interested in it and what it has to say. I have to keep remembering that it was written almost fifty years ago and it reminds me how much the world has changed.

Recently finished: I got nothing this week. It’s been very busy and on the bright side, I did well on my midterm! I was able to post my review of Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson yesterday so please check that out.

Reading Next: I’m holding onto Brainiac by Ken Jennings to start when I finish Friedan. I think that one will be a quick read.
I’m hoping to start Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club as my next car audiobook. I’ve been wanting to read something by Tan for a while and I think this hit will be a good place to start.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 30-May-2018

30 May

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I got a few pages through The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver during my lunch break but not too much. I’m through chapter 1 now and I already had to renew it. This will be a long, slow haul.
I’m really enjoying A Walk In the Woods by Bill Bryson and with all the driving I’m doing for school, I’m going through it pretty quickly. I may even finish it in the next two weeks, pretty fast for me!
I hadn’t gotten far in Critical Chain so I switched audiobooks when one I’ve been anticipating more became available. I started Dreams of Joy by Lisa See. I enjoyed the first book in the series, Shanghai Girls, and I remember it well enough that I’m picking up right where I left off.
I started a new physical book as well. My book club’s next selection is The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. It’s not something I ever would have picked up otherwise and so far, I’m enjoying it. I’m early on but I’m hoping to get through this quickly because I’ve got some other books I want to read.

Recently finished: I finished The Sellout by Paul Beatty last week. It was a day after my book club meeting but the ending wasn’t startling enough that anything was ruined for me by listening to the discussion. I liked it well enough, but the satirical tone wasn’t something I got into.

I also posted my review for The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne. I love a good memoir and this book hit the spot for me. It was a great mix of emotional and funny and I recommend it. I gave the book Four out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I forgot about my book club selection so I have a physical book on my bedside table and I’m afraid it will be a while before I get to it. It’s the library copy of Brainiac by Ken Jennings which happens to be large print. It was the only copy the library had so I feel a bit weird about it, but it’s my only option. On the bright side, I’ll get through it much faster than I would another book with the same number of pages.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 23-May-2018

23 May

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I haven’t made much progress with The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver. I’ve been getting my school reading done during lunch at work so I’m not falling behind in that, but I’m not getting ahead in reading. I expect this will be on this list for a while.
I sped through The Sellout by Paul Beatty but didn’t quite finish it in time for my book club meeting. I’m still going to finish it but it’s a little bittersweet knowing more about the ending than I otherwise would. Oh well.
I’ve had some good movement with audiobooks! I wasn’t able to get The Joy Luck Club as fast as I wanted to so I started A Walk In the Woods by Bill Bryson instead. This is making me excited for summer and thinking about getting the gear so I can be a backpacker soon! I’ve wanted to do some longer hikes for a while but I don’t have the gear… yet.
I also started another eaudiobook. I picked up Critical Chain by Eliyahu Goldratt. I read his critically acclaimed The Goal in college and I’m excited to see what else this business master has to share.

Recently finished: I wrapped up The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne last Wednesday right before bed. I really adored this book and I’m surprised how few reviews of it I found after posting. It seems it wasn’t widely distributed even though it was well received. My review will be up tomorrow.
I plowed through Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson on my errands and drive to school. This was a great, albeit short book and it’s making me curious about what else Woodson has written. Does anyone have recommendations for more by her?

I posted my review of Mister Monkey by Francine Prose on Thursday last week and my book club reflection of it went up yesterday. The book was good but it didn’t blow me away. I gave it Three out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I’m set on audiobooks for a while so it looks like I’ll get to pick a physical book next. I keep knocking down my towering TBR from the top and next up is Brainiac by Ken Jennings. My mom raised me on Jeopardy! so I watched Jennings in his legendary run on the show. I’m interested to see what he has to say about the world of competitive trivia and learn a little more about a person who can pack so many facts into his head!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!