The Stranger in the Woods

The Stranger in the Woods

The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit

Book - 2017 | First edition
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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
Branch Call Number: 974.1043 FIN 2017
Characteristics: 203 pages : illustration, map ; 22 cm


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Mar 21, 2019

I was never much of a non-fiction lover before I read this book. However, Finkel tells a captivating story about the hermit, Christopher Knight. This book went so much further than just exploring the ideas of survival; it showed me a new perspective on life. Finkel makes a life of solitude seem so enticing. He highlights many benefits of living a life of solitude throughout the book, but he also shows readers the downsides (especially regarding Knight's life). I would definitely read this book again and recommend to anyone looking for an eye-opening read.

PimaLib_SamR Mar 05, 2019

This book captures the life of Christopher Knight who went into the Maine woods at the age of 20, only to come out again 27 years later. During those years he had no real human interaction. The story is fascinating and begins like a good mystery, drawing the reader in until one can’t put it down. Finkel tracks Knight’s re-entry into society which is at times empathetic and at times hostile to his plight. The author suggests that there are three categories of hermits which he describes, and he delves into some of the current research on them. As bit of a loner myself (although not 27 years’ worth), I found this book compelling.

Jan 10, 2019

This was my personal book of the year for 2014. I could not stop thinking about it. Engaging and pragmatic and oddly timed. It was like dancing under water. I am a Gen-Xer and this man fits the spectrum of the time that cared and tried and lived and died daily to a rather opaque ending to an unknown beginning. I may by ten and hand them out as gifts to poeple 45 to 55.

Nov 06, 2018

I really enjoyed this book. I found it to be an eye opener. The way the story is set up keeps it interesting, the chapters are short and concise which helps keep the readers engaged in the story. It is not a story that is easy to predict which is also why I loved this book. I think that seeing things from a different perspective really opened my eyes to the world and how our world works today. I think that it is always important to learn new things through other people's perspectives and this book really helps you do that. I enjoyed reading this book form the beginning and sometimes I found myself lost in the book and time would fly by. i would recommend this book and it is a book that I would most likely read again.

Nov 04, 2018

The Stranger In The Woods is a good book to read if you want a non-fiction book. If you do not like non-fiction books all that much, this is a good book to read because it doesn't feel like one. The book is about a hermit, Christopher Knight, who managed to live for 27 years in the forest without anyone seeing him, save for one person in all that time. This story is viewed through the author's eyes, so it is a very interesting point of view. The vocabulary is not too difficult so most people can read it since it's a relatively short book at a little over 200 pages. I would definitely recommend this book to my friends and family!

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.

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Jan 04, 2018

runningbeat thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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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