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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

A Walk in the Woods

Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail turned out to be a much better buy at the Denver Public Library used book sale than the Theroux sadness I recently read. Granted it was only a dollar as well, but what a great find, or gift rather. And that gift is what I want to talk about here.
Why not review the book I’m saying I’m going to review? Well, alright, I’ll do that first. It’s a Bill Bryson book, so everyone already knows it’ll be a winner. And yeah, it’s a bit slow in a spot (the start of part two), but it grabs you right from the start and has an excellent ending, which I sat up until 2am last night to get to from 100 pages out.
Yeah, I couldn’t put it down.
Ok, now that that’s out of the way, on to the story of how I got the book…
I was walking through the used book tents in downtown Denver for the library sale, several books craddled in my arms, looking to see if there was anything I had missed. I was in the children’s section looking to see if there might be any novels along the lines of a Harry Potter, since I don’t keep up on that scene too well, when I saw an older lady come walking down the aisle towards me.
All of the aisles were crowded in the tents, so I tried to be a gentleman and step out of the way while she passed. My jaw dropped as she smiled at me though; in her arms I saw a book that I had wanted to read for a very long time, Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods.
I was so shocked I couldn’t help but exclaiming how jealous I was and asking her, all in one breath, which table she found it on. She looked back over her shoulder at the rows of tables and shrugged and said she couldn’t remember because there are just so many books out there, probably the travel section though.
Take note now because this is going to be the moment where my heart melts.
As I looked off down the rows of tables, knowing there’d be no way I could find another one in that mess, she gave me a kind smile and handed me the book and told me it was all mine since she had probably already read it.
And here I looked her in the face to thank her and realized she wasn’t an older lady at all. Instead she was a middle aged woman who looked like she had been worn by stress, most likely due to the patterned turban she wore on her head. Yes, it took me only a mili-second to surmise that she was battling cancer and the cloth was there to help her keep her modesty because she was bald.
So here I was then, in this hot tent in downtown Denver with this woman, who I assumed was fighting cancer, offering me a book that I wanted to read for years. There was no way I could accept it. She should take it and read it since she found it, I’d just go look for another copy.
She shrugged again though and said she had most likely read it a few times, but just figured she’d pick up another copy while she was here. So really, I should go ahead and take it and enjoy it since, from what she could recall, it was a really good book.
In this exchange, based on her demeanor, I couldn’t help but believe that she never really read it, but was giving it to me since maybe, just maybe, she thought she might not have enough time left in this world to make it to the end.
I know this is all a lot of surmising and assuming from just a momentary exchange, but I’m positive she was sick, but it’s really only a guess though as to why she gave it up. I wish she hadn’t turned so quickly to walk away as she handed me the book because I would’ve liked to have found out more about her – particularly her address or phone number so I could give her the book to read once I was done with it.
I’ve loved every Bill Bryson book I’ve ever read, and this one was no different with the exception that it’ll hold a special place in my melted heart because of the way I received it. And yes, while I did pay for it, I still consider it a special gift from this kind lady.
Now, if you haven’t read it before, head out to your library or local book shop and pick up a copy. The adventures of Bill Bryson and Stephen Katz, his childhood friend, on the Appalachian Trail is more than worth it from cover-to-cover.

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  1. Wild by Cheryl Strayed | Jason's Travels - September 18, 2013

    […] one thousand times more difficult than what Bill Bryson experienced on his trek along the A.T. in A Walk in the Woods. Of course, Bryson wasn’t going through what Strayed was – dealing with the death of her […]

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