The Stranger in the Woods

The Stranger in the Woods

The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit

Book - 2017
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"For readers of Jon Krakauer and The Lost City of Z, a remarkable tale of survival and solitude--the true story of a man who lived alone in a tent in the Maine woods, never talking to another person and surviving by stealing supplies from nearby cabins for twenty-seven years. In 1986, twenty-year-old Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the woods. 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 in winter, he had survived by his wits and courage, developing ingenious ways to store food and water, to avoid freezing to death. He broke into nearby cottages for food, clothes, 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 the why and how of his secluded life--as well as the challenges he has faced returning to the world. A riveting 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 description.
Publisher: New York :, Alfred A. Knopf,, 2017
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9781101875681
Characteristics: 203 pages : illustrations, map ; 22 cm


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Sep 07, 2018

A look into the life of someone who has removed himself from society, revealing a different look at our society.

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.

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Jan 04, 2018

runningbeat thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

Aug 16, 2017

sara34 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 9 and 88

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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Sep 19, 2017

Silence, it appears, is not the opposite of sound. It is another world altogether, literally offering a deeper level of thought, a journey to the bedrock of the self.


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