If we had just met and you asked me those funny ‘get to know you’ questions (“What is your favorite XXX?”) I would be able to answer most without thinking; Movie? Clue. Music? Any and all Christmas Music. Fictional world? Hogwarts. Car? VW ’68 bay window bus. Book? …
…this is where I would stumble. There have been lots over the years, books that meant different things at different times in my life. Eventually though, after a brief but intense internal struggle, I would probably land on A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. I was always a fast, strong reader but it wasn’t until college that I became an avid reader; mostly because I was never really interested in the books that were meant for little, tween, and teenager girls. You will never find me squealing over a vintage Babysitters Club book.
Things changed when I picked up A Walk in the Woods on the (very astute) recommendation of my freshman composition professor. In Bryson I found an author whose voice mirrored the voice in my own head; the voice I have never been able to sufficiently put to paper. Bryson effortlessly writes, wittily yet profoundly, in a way that makes any amateur writer envious. I devoured everything Bryson had written; I searched for collections of his news columns, re-read my favorites, immediately grabbed anything new, searched for read-a-likes, and recommended A Walk in the Woods to anyone who had any interest in humor, camping, hiking, England, bears…I would find a way to make it applicable to any situation.
After living and working in England for two decades, writer Bill Bryson returns to America, with his English wife and children in tow. Bryson is amazed at how things have changed and yet retain that familiar feeling we associate with “home.” Bryson decides to embark on a journey to rediscover his old, new home by hiking the Appalachian Trail. But due to his physical state, (out of shape writer) and experience level (none) Bill looks for a hiking partner to accompany him and decides on an old friend he hasn’t seen in years, a friend who had been with him on his first travel excursion to Europe decades before. Together, with wit and sentiment, this odd couple tackles one of America’s most beloved trail systems.
So the other day when I was sitting on my mom’s couch watching her TV and eating her chips (I swear I am a responsible adult, just not all the time) and a trailer for A Walk in the Woods starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte came on, I pretty much had a fan girl melt down of epic proportions. This is one of those times where I am excited but also… So. Very. Anxious. This book is held in such high esteem in my own mind that I can’t handle the possibility that the movie might not live up to the humor inherent in the story. Bryson’s American-raised, British-influenced internal banter is so specific that I worry about Robert Redford being able to do it justice, you read that right, I am worried that ROBERT REDFORD won’t be good enough to play Bill Bryson.
The movie comes out Labor Day Weekend, and if you plan on seeing it, promise me, for the love of all that is good and right in this world, you will read the book too, just in case. And remember…Bears LOVE Snickers.