Thursday Book Feature: AWOL on the Appalachian “Trail

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.AWOL on the Appalachian Trail

By David Miller

Copyright 2010


In this memoir, the author explains how and why he left his job and family and hiked the entire Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia for five months in 2003. He describes conditions on the trail, shelters, hostiles, and other places where he stayed, and his encounters with other hikers and wildlife, inserting snippets of information about his life into his narrative. At the end, he gives advice to anyone wishing to hike the Appalachian Trail.

This book helps put life in perspective. My minor aches and pains are nothing compared to the agony David Miller suffered on the trail as a result of foot infections, a sprained ankle, and other complications, some of which nearly caused him to abandon his hike altogether. When I work out, I tell myself I’m only exercising for an hour at the most, not walking for ten hours a day through rough terrain. On frigid winter nights when I burrow under my blankets in bed, I’m thankful not to be soaking wet, trying to get dry in an equally wet sleeping bag.

Hiking the Appalachian Trail is quite a challenge. If you’re up to it, great. If not, I highly recommend this book. You’ll successfully hike this trail from the comfort of your own easy chair.


My Books


My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

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Thursday Book Feature: Notes from a Small Island

Notes from a Small Island

by Bill Bryson

Copyright 1995


Journalist Bill Bryson, author of A Walk in the Woods and other travel books, grew up in Iowa, then moved to England, where he married and started a family. Later, his family moved back to the U.;S. so his children could be exposed to American culture. Before doing so, he took one last trip through England and parts of Scotland, sometimes on foot but mostly using public transportation. A couple of times, he rented a car.

Notes from a Small Island describes this journey, starting at Dover and ending near Inverness. Bryson describes each town he visited, giving some history and sharing memories of earlier visits. With humor, he reflects on the idiosyncrasies’ of the English bus and train system and of the English people in general. He emphasizes his love for England.

I found this book not only informative but also amusing. Bryson’s descriptions of English people reminded me of Garrison Keillor’S comic depictions of people in Minnesota. His account of a shopping trip with his wife, while taking a break from his travels, reminded me of James Thurber’s short story, “The Secret Life of Walter Mittee, in which the protagonist daydreams to escape his demanding wife. Bryson’s descriptions of times when his guidebook misled him reminded me of a trip with my father to Mexico years ago when we had the same problem.

Why waste time, money, and effort on a trip to England when you can read this book instead? Of course things may have changed since Bryson made the original journey, but it’s still a good read.


Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

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