Book Review: A Walk in the Woods

A Walk in the Woods

by Bill Bryson

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In a trek along one of America’s greatest trails, mountain man Bill Bryson provides a comedic and sometimes tart outlook on American culture.

Doesn’t that cover, with vibrant greens and a curious bear, just draw you in? Does it make you want to dive in to this written journey of the Appalachian Trail? It did for me. And after my very short experience on the trail, I was more than ready to experience the full thing (if maybe not with my own two feet just yet).

Reading about someone hiking along a 2,000 mile trail admittedly sounds like some boring reading, but Bryson makes sharp insights about culture, nature preservation, and people. It helps that Bryson’s comedic undertones, or his obvious satire , engages readers with the reading and Bryson’s rhetoric does not go unnoticed. For example, when he makes a dangerous, hilarious walk to a store for a simple purchase, Bryson makes readers very aware of the near disregard for using one’s legs as transportation, and ultimately an incline in toxic traffic.

Bryson’s partner, Stephen Katz, is wonderfully clumsy and belligerent. His sweet and sour attitude makes a peaceful walk among the trees a ruffled journey. And I can’t forget to mention the other lovely characters met along the trail – know-it-all Mary Ellen whose relentless banter earned her a reputation among hikers of the trail, and Chicken John, who was so hopelessly lost.

Unfortunately, there were no bear sightings or really much danger at all. Aside from a blizzard and Katz lost in the wilderness, the story is without much action. The plot of this memoir relies on the very comedic situations Bryson experiences along the trail and off of it. Whether he is speeding down a highway after hitching a ride with drunken strangers, arguing with Katz about cream soda, or terrified of being blown off a mountain by high speed winds, there is rarely dull moments with Bryson.

When the situations aren’t funny, they are often fascinating and just as engrossing as Bryson’s other stories. The town above an old burning mine was such an intriguing story. Much of the North East portion of the country, that is rarely glorified in fiction or non-fiction, was suddenly fascinating and I dreamed of a walk in a New Hampshire wood, which I can assure you, had never crossed my mind before.

I highly recommend this book as a solid memoir, filled with sharp insights and layers of humor for all readers. There is a fascinating history to the Appalachian Trail and America’s forest. If you appreciate nature, and you ought to, delve into Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, and see perspective on new and ancient forest, trail, and country.

I give A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson a four out of five stars.

4 stars (2)

The Dinosaur Daily 8.17.2014

The Daily Dinosaur

17th August, 2014

Today’s Dinosaur Daily does not come from any media source, but it does talk about media and our reading habits.

The Dino Daily

Tales of our favorite heroes and villains don’t always come from books.  Media, with all of its entertainment and insight, is brimming with stories to be told and shared.

This is a blog where I review books (and other bookish things), but I, and I suspect I am not alone in this, don’t solely turn to books for entertainment . And this is the part where I admit that one thing I’ve denied its virtue for so long – television. I was, and, to an extent, still am one who proudly kept my mind pure with lots of books and very minimal TV. But then, one late night with boredom and tiredness aching all over, I stopped to watch just one episode of Dr. Who. Science Fiction and campy action has always pleased me, but the show became more than that. And that is the beginning, that is my confession of becoming a Whovian. And more, it is how I learned to love the television. I imagined a team of writers and designers bustling over scripts and sets just to bring a story to life. There is something magical in that.

And after making it through all of the new seasons twice, I realized the show extends to all corners. There are books and art dedicated just to the show. So, with a little bit of money I made a trip to the local book store and picked up a book that I am quite excited to read, titled Dr. Who: Tales of Trenzalore: The Eleventh Doctor’s Last Stand. Apparently it is number fifty-two in a series, but no matter. I needed this one.

trenz

If you’ve ever watched the show, you will likely understand that the Doctor regenerates when he is about to die, and that this moment is a farewell to the doctor of whom we were growing more and more fond. I needed the book that I chose because it relates directly to an episode I am not ready to watch, “The Time of the Doctor” – and another farewell. It’s interesting isn’t it how I feel more prepared to watch the episode having the supplemented book to complete the picture? And also, I know that after watching the episode, that doctor will still have more stories for me. There’s actually a plethora of Dr. Who themed books, based on each of the doctors and I believe this is something I will be indulging in.

Dr. Who is not the only TV series with book series dedicated to it. Here’s a list of several more, including Pretty Little Liars, Dexter, and Supernatural. There’s something for everyone. My question is – how much are these books used to supplement the series? How are they written? Are they engaging and informative to the series? I can’t help thinking this would make a great weekly feature. Of course, I might need to watch different television shows so I don’t feature a Dr. Who novel every week, but then again, Dr. Who is pretty fantastic.

Has anyone else read this kind of supplementary book? How was the experience?

 

Book to Box Office: The Giver

Well Hellooooo

It has been a while hasn’t it? However, since my last post was about The Giver, I deemed it appropriate to make my return discussing its film adaptation.

The Giver

2014

Directed by Phillip Noyce

Starring Brenton Thwaites, Meryl Streep, and Jeff Bridges

Based on the novel by Lois Lowry

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IMDb Synopsis:

In a seemingly perfect community, without war, pain, suffering, differences or choice, a young boy is chosen to learn from an elderly man about the true pain and pleasure of the “real” world.

My Review:

I admit I had low expectations for this adaptation. The novel had a slow start, taking time to explore the beauty and terror of Utopia. Film is naturally designed to portray as much action without dwelling too long on backstory. Therefore, I anticipated many changes to Lowry’s original image.

Not to my surprise, the black and white world of deranged perfection haunted viewers for only the first quarter of the feature. However, I was pleasantly surprised that the blend of color and grayscale representation took place throughout the entire film. This rang true with the my own depiction of the story. And it’s just nice to see what I imagined taking place on screen.

The picture was beautiful, contrasting gray to color, and stillness to movement. The juxtaposition was alive.

The film featured some relatively large names, Bridges and Streep are quality actors of our time and their talent was not unnoticed. Even pop star Taylor Swift gets a small appearance. Brenton Thwaites, and up-and-coming actor played Jonas well. In the film version, Jonas is older than eleven, around sixteen instead. However, the few years don’t change too much about the character and I was pleased at Thwaites performance; he was inquisitive and excited.

As The Giver is an award-winning book, beloved by readers for decades, the changes made to the story for its film adaptation needed to be done carefully. The film rushed a bit through the history of the utopia as I mentioned earlier, but some other small adjustments were made as well. I’ve never been one to get upset when filmmakers tweak the story from the novel, and I can’t say changes made to The Giver upset me either. However, the film focused far too much on the child’s rebellion and the chase. It had a similar way of hooking the audience as recent films such as Hunger Games and Divergent. Lowry’s novel focused on the psychological struggles of what is right and wrong, the tension between joy and pain. Phillip Noyce took the film in a more popular direction, which arguably attracts a larger audience. I understand the shift in focus, and I honestly expected it, but the film simply didn’t possess the same heart-wrench and inner turmoil as the book.

I do recommend watching the film. It may be more meaningful to watch after reading the book because the film rushes viewers through some of the details. It’s a short book, you ought to read it anyway. It was a pleasant movie, sharing thematic elements with other recent popular films. It’s appropriate for children and engaging to all audiences.

I give The Giver 3 stars.

3 Stars

 

Read the book review here