Summer’s End: The Pop Culture Homework Assignment Roundup

Well, folks, It’s Labor Day and summer is over. This has been a really fun summer for us at StacksXLifeX. We challenged each other in June to do a Pop Culture Homework Assignment. We each assigned the other four books that were themed and we gave ourselves the summer to read them. (We, of course, could and did read other things, too!) My theme for Beth was travel. She read Wild by Cheryl Strayed. She then followed it up with Traveling Mercies, 13 Little Blue Envelopes (with the bonus extra credit: The Last Little Blue Envelope!) by Maureen Johnson, and A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson.

Beth assigned me The books of Rainbow Rowell. I’ve been hearing about some of these books for awhile now (in particular, Eleanor and Park) so I was very happy to dive into them. I also read Attachments, Fangirl, and Landline. Plus, we got some bonus posts because, serendipitously, Rainbow Rowell spoke at our parents’ local library while I was visiting home, Eleanor and Park inspired a playlist and Fangirl inspired a dessert.

We enjoyed this challenge enormously. It has been so fun to read books outside of our normal fare and to discuss those books with each other and you. We hope that you have enjoyed the posts and this summer. School is back in session, the leaves will be changing soon and before we know it, everyone will be doing year-end reviews.

So, tell us in the comments: What were your favorite books this summer?

Review: A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

Featured imageI did it. I have completed my summer’s Pop Culture Homework Assignment and still have a couple more weeks before the kids go back to school. (Kids in NYC go back ridiculously late.) I’ve read four books.  Wild by Cheryl Strayed, Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott, 13 Blue Little Envelopes and Last Little Blue Envelope (extra credit) by Maureen Johnson and A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson.  I feel very good about all of this.  I’ve read three non-fiction books, which is three more than I read all of last year.  I read about two brave women and how they overcame their struggles and came out stronger.  I got a feel for what it’s like to hike and camp and it still has no appeal to me but I can see how it might appeal to others.  I also got to read a new book form an author I really like.  I would say it was a productive summer.

So A Walk in the Woods was enjoyable.  I can definitely see why Kate loves it so much.  Bill and his friend Stephen Katz are two people who probably shouldn’t be hiking but they did and they made it.  Ok, maybe Bill but definitely not Katz.  Bill moves to New Hampshire and finds out it’s right by the Appalachian Trail and decides, he’s going to hike it because why not.  Out of no where, his long lost friend Katz decides to do it with him. Like Cheryl in Wild, they have no idea of what they are getting themselves into.  Sure, they’ve done some hiking before but nothing like this.  Reading their misadventures was a delight.  From their struggles with their packs, the people they meet and their run-ins with animals that were real or imaginary was amusing.  The best part of the book is when they are together.  In the middle, Katz has to go back to Des Moines for a job and Bill continues on his own.  It’s not that I don’t like Bill, it’s I liked him more when he had Katz to play off.  If they were a comedic duo, Bill would be Desi to Katz’s Lucy.  The book read faster and I was more interested.  When it was just Bill, I felt like he spent more talking about history and other tangents and while interesting, it slowed the pace down.  Maybe he spent so much time talking about other things because he was by himself he obviously didn’t have any witty dialogue to include. The Appalachian Trail is older then the Pacific Crest Trail that Cheryl hiked and so it had a lot more places to stop.  Also, it’s surrounded by more towns and people, so Bill and Katz had more chances of interacting with people on and off the trail.  It was interesting to see how they were treated when they left the trail.  In some cases like Gods and others indifference.  All and all it was an enjoyable read.  I’m glad I read it.