The Stranger in the Woods

The Stranger in the Woods

The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit

Book - 2017
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Many people dream of escaping modern life, but most will never act on it. This is the remarkable true story of a man who lived alone in the woods of Maine for 27 years, making this dream a reality--not out of anger at the world, but simply because he preferred to live on his own.

A New York Times bestseller

In 1986, a shy and intelligent twenty-year-old named Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the forest. He would not have a conversation with another human being until nearly three decades later, when he was arrested for stealing food. Living in a tent even through brutal winters, he had survived by his wits and courage, developing ingenious ways to store edibles and water, and to avoid freezing to death. He broke into nearby cottages for food, clothing, reading material, and other provisions, taking only what he needed but terrifying a community never able to solve the mysterious burglaries. Based on extensive interviews with Knight himself, this is a vividly detailed account of his secluded life--why did he leave? what did he learn?--as well as the challenges he has faced since returning to the world. It is a gripping story of survival that asks fundamental questions about solitude, community, and what makes a good life, and a deeply moving portrait of a man who was determined to live his own way, and succeeded.
Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2017.
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9781101875681
1101875682
Branch Call Number: 974.122 KNIGHT C
Characteristics: 203 pages : map, illustrations ; 22 cm

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LPL_DanC Jul 03, 2017

I can't stop talking about this book! It raises so many questions, many left unanswered. Except this one: What are the hermit's favorite books? He was a voracious reader during 27 years alone in the woods, speaking to a another human only once, to merely say "Hi." His entire reading l... Read More »

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LPL_MeredithW Apr 17, 2017

What could compel someone to walk away from society and live in total isolation for decades? That's the question that journalist Michael Finkel attempts to answer in this account of the life and arrest of Christopher Knight, who survived the brutal winters of northern Maine for nearly 30 years a... Read More »


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ehbooklover Jul 22, 2017

This book tells the fascinating story of a man who lives in a forest without any human contact for almost 3 decades. It is not only his story, but is also an examination of the history of solitude and of hermits. I really liked that the author managed to avoid treating the subject in a sensationalized manner. Rather, it was treated in a very empathetic and sympathetic way.

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forgeman
Jul 15, 2017

I found this to be a quick and easy read as it flowed along nicely without being too complicated. but how do you complicate a story of a guy whose sole wish was to just be left alone. there's only one person who knows why Christoper Knight chose the path he did, and apparantly he's not talking. The author did some thorough research to chronicle Knight's time in the woods and to think of what he went through is fascinating. I'd love to hear what he's up to these days, is he still at home? has he gone for a walk with the Lady in the Woods? has he found another fortress of solitude? I guess we'll never know.

t
taylorwoods
Jul 08, 2017

Such an incredible, well-researched, and well-written book about a man who just wants to be alone. Makes me want to read "hermit books" as this book refers to.

l
lizbeth51
Jul 05, 2017

I enjoyed this book very much, so much that I couldn't read anything else. But I am a solitary person, I enjoy it! However, I don't think I could go as far as Chris did to achieve it. I mainly enjoyed learning how he lived, why he felt the need to live alone, (although that wasn't explored quite enough) and also the affect his crimes had on his victims. I recommend this one.

m
mclarjh
Jul 03, 2017

Entertaining, but not extraordinary.

LPL_DanC Jul 03, 2017

I can't stop talking about this book! It raises so many questions, many left unanswered. Except this one: What are the hermit's favorite books? He was a voracious reader during 27 years alone in the woods, speaking to a another human only once, to merely say "Hi." His entire reading life consisted of books he stole from summer cabins. To see his list of recommended reads, check out "The Stranger in the Woods."

AL_KATI Jun 26, 2017

Wow--this held my interest the entire time. It had a bit of adventure, crime and facts about solitude that I wanted to give it all up and move away. Except I like my creature comforts too much to do that. Highly recommend if you want something about the woods that's a little on the short side (and also mosquito-free!).

SPL_Shauna Jun 26, 2017

Full review available under Summary.

b
babbo47
Jun 05, 2017

Much better than anticipated... reads like a novel... very interesting, especially if you like to spend time alone. Lots of "fun facts" about hermits

Cynthia_N May 26, 2017

Sometimes life is the most interesting story! Before reading I was thinking this was an "off the grid" story and it was a fail because he kept stealing supplies but I was wrong. Christopher Knight had his own reasons for needing to remove himself from society. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and just wish there were more details (and at least a few pictures of his camp!).

** There are pictures of his camp online.**

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Tjad2L
Apr 20, 2017

Tjad2L thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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SPL_Shauna Jun 26, 2017

For introverted lovers of the outdoors, the idea of escaping into the woods alone for weeks can seem like a balm. But, Christopher Knight managed to vanish into the Maine woods for 27 years without a trace, beyond a legend based on the tiny absences he left behind in sustaining himself. Known to some as the North Pond Hermit or The Hungry Man, his thousands of small, self-sustaining thefts unsettled a community for a quarter century while he lived his peace.

This book was my first experience reading nonfiction with an unreliable narrator. The author is a journalist who admits issues in the past with fudging his stories (he merged a number of sources into one voice for narrative benefit in an earlier project and was caught out). He discloses this midway into the book, and it makes you wonder a bit about what liberties he may have taken with Knight's story; among them, the extent to which Knight understood and gave permission for his tale to be told. It's an uncomfortable reading experience, to be sure, but fascinating as well.

Finkel is an outdoorsman himself, and therefore disposed to feel a certain understanding around Knight's choices. His empathy and curiosity drive the story to read like a novel rather than a biography, and leave readers rooting alternately for Knight, his family, the cottagers and the fledgling friendship between Knight and Finkel. All in all, this book makes for a great summer read, particularly if you're at a remote cottage and enjoy a bit creepiness in a book.

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