The Stranger in the Woods

The Stranger in the Woods

The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit

Book - 2017
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Comments (45)

Jul 19, 2018

Per the below comment: It's not a hoax. Writer/journalist Michael Finkel's book tells the incredible story of Christopher Knight, who, as young man, disappeared into the Maine woods and lived alone as a "hermit" (a word he rejects) for nearly three decades. Part of his survival was based on stealing, and he was eventually caught and tried. There are echoes of "Into the Wild," although the ending is less bleak, and nature classics like "Walden" (Knight does not think highly of Thoreau.) and Abbey's "Desert Solitaire." It's quite compelling and thoughtful, exploring both man's connection to nature, the rejection of society, and solitude. You might also like "My Abandonment," about a father and daughter living in the woods.

Apr 14, 2018

likely a hoax

bluejay1972 Mar 24, 2018

This is a very good read. His will to survive and thrive is amazing. As you read, you begin to understand all the lives that were touched beyond his.

TristanTM Mar 07, 2018

This book might depress you, because we "live" in the world that the hermit removed himself from. Still, it may resonate with you regardless and for that reason it's highly worth a read.

Feb 07, 2018

What makes this book compelling is the depth of story telling. More than a simple, journalistic description, the author brings up the challenging aspects beyond man-lives-in-woods. The main character steals, knows it is wrong, but still does it. Do we despise a man who steals food from a camp for children or admire his thievery being limited to essentials? There are other interesting issues along the way. To me, the ending was the best part. After so many years separate from people, how will he react after being submerged back in society. In summary, a great book about a good story.

Jan 30, 2018

Crazy story and well told. Appreciate how the author researched and interviewed a variety of groups (local neighbors, medical professionals, law enforcement, hermits) to focus on a complete character portrayal. Quick read and definitely recommend!

Jan 26, 2018

Well written. very interesting.

Jan 19, 2018

Fascinating and thought provoking. A well written account of a man who isolated himself from other humans for 27 years and did so by living in a camp in dense Maine woods throughout every season, all kinds of treacherous weather and by stealing packaged foods from vacant summer cabins. He is considered by some to be a true Hermit as he had no contact with another living being, except for an exchange of Hello with a hiker for all of those 27 years. No other hermit in recorded history has spent that much time in isolation. One of the most interesting and disturbing facts I found was that most of us only go about 8 hours without any interaction with another and that 9 out of 10 people would rather subject themselves to electric shock treatment than to be alone with their thoughts for 15 minutes!
There is much to discuss about an anomalous life, how some crave it and how others fear it.

This is an excellent choice for a book discussion!

Jan 04, 2018

I really liked the book as I to have thought about living off the land and what it would be like. This book describes it well, as Chris Knight did it over 27 yrs until he got caught stealing. Stealing only to survive. The book leaves you with, why people do this, was he a true hermit? I think the system failed him and his punishment in this case was wrong. Since Knight was caught only a couple years ago, and if he so wishes, it would be nice if he could live out in the bush on his own, away from people, government helps so many people, why not help him.

Nov 22, 2017

I loved this book. I want to read this book again sometime. I only wish this book had been longer. Are there issues with the way the information was obtained / the telling of this person's story? Sure, yes. I hadn't heard any of the interviews or read anything about the background of this book. I saw it on a shelf at the library and the subtitle immediately grabbed me. Ended up reading the ebook version. To read about someone doing exactly what I've often fantasized about doing (except the stealing parts) with bits of history mixed in about other people who have done this throughout time ... it was like taking a little hermit vacation myself.

ArapahoeLesley Oct 26, 2017

The fascinating story of Christopher Knight and his return to civilization after 27 years alone in the woods of Maine. Told with feeling by the author.

Oct 03, 2017

Read by the fireplace when it is the last book in your stack. A twenty-year old man disappeared into the Maine forest in 1986, living in a camp for nearly thirty years without human contact except for his burglaries of food and equipment from cabins. Eventually caught, arrested and convicted.

Sep 19, 2017

I really enjoyed this and found it hard to put down. The actual story of the hermit, while interesting, doesn't take long to tell, but the author takes time to explore the themes of the man's story - silence, time, withdrawal, hermits, etc. that was also good food for thought.

ArapahoeHollyR Sep 18, 2017

One of the most intriguing, thought-provoking books I have read this year. The fascinating tale of the man who may have been the the last "true" hermit in the United States. Well-written with lots of interesting musings about the question of whether or not socialization is a necessary part of being human.

Sep 11, 2017

Absolutely amazing book. I actually listened on audio cd but comments are not posted for that format. I listened to it about a week ago and can't get it out of my head. Imagine - 27 years living in a tent in the Maine woods. (He actually had made it quite comfortable because of his stealing) But he was near death from cold and starvation. It is such an incredible story. There is so much to say: why he did it, he doesn't know. Perhaps autism spectrum. He definitely wasn't a crazy man. And I thought I was reclusive!

ArapahoeSarahD Sep 05, 2017

Many of us wish to make an escape from this world; to go off into the wilderness and never return. Christopher Knight is the exception. He left his world, his family, and his possessions for a life of complete silence and solitude. They called him "hermit" or "insane" but it is only through his own words, that we are finally given truth.

ArapahoeSarahD Sep 05, 2017

Many of us wish to make an escape from this world; to go off into the wilderness and never return. Christopher Knight is the exception. He left his world, his family, and his possessions for a life of complete silence and solitude. They called him "hermit" or "insane" but it is only through his own words, that we are finally given truth.

Sep 05, 2017

Just finished this remarkable story and am hoping that Chris Knight is doing well where ever he is. As a child, my father took myself and a few others on a hike to meet a hermit. Not at all sure how he knew of him but this guy was eccentric. I remember the collection of small wind up clocks - all ticking. Cheap plastic toys you would get at a summer fair lined up on shelves and when I tried to touch them - he got mad at me. I was 5 or 6. That was contact though with other humans whether he liked it or not but C.K. did not see anyone other than a hiker in the decades he was in his wooded home. Remarkable. I can't imagine how painful it was for him to be dragged back to a modern world with so many technological changes, so busy and so noisy. To see his mother and siblings again. To be caged in a jail.. Very interesting read and enjoyed all the historical references. Was glad to get to know this interesting and fascinating person.

Aug 20, 2017

This is a great book -- astonishing, insightful and a penetrating story. It is a story of discovery.
This book deserves five stars! If you enjoy it you may like "Noah John Rondeau: Adirondack Hermit" by Maitland C. DeSormo, 1969. You must use the Interlibrary Loan.

multcolib_susannel Aug 19, 2017

True story of a man who loves everything about the world except its people.

Chapel_Hill_AmandaG Aug 16, 2017

I was completely fascinated by Knight's story because who hasn't ever thought about escaping from the world for a few days (or longer)? However, I did finish the book feeling frustrated because I never got to the point where I really understood Knight's mindset or his motivations for living the way he did. I do think Finkel did an admirable job in reporting the story and making it as engaging as possible but was simply prevented from going any deeper due Knight's unwillingness to share more. This would be a great pick for any book group because it is sure to generate lots of thoughtful discussion.

SCL_Tricia Aug 11, 2017

I didn't agree with the author's view point and perspective on a few things but I enjoyed the book. It is not very often that you can say that, usually if I disagree, I don't like the book. I enjoyed the back history on hermits and Knight. His childhood sounded interesting and I would have liked to know more. I found the book to be just the right length, the author did not try to drag it out into more than it was and I did appreciate that. All in all a great book to start a discussion.

Aug 10, 2017

An original work of non-fiction mystery.
The irony of a man who leaves the world to escape people
But needs them to finance his new world.
Hermit, loner, misanthrope : Christopher Knight belies all labels.
Michael Finkel gets close to this outlier, but never penetrates
The enigma of Knight.
Nor would anyone else. Knight probably doesn't understand himself, nor cares to.
A disturbing,fascinating and compelling read.

Aug 10, 2017

What a wonderful read! I really enjoyed this book. I can't imagine stealing from other people though. I would miss having contact with other people. Too bad this man could not have found a way to be a Hermit without stealing. Elleryqueen

SCL_Heather Aug 10, 2017


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