My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Book Review: The Stranger In The Woods by Michael Finkel


Synopsis (From Goodreads):
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.

I have mixed feelings about the non-fiction book, The Stranger In The Woods, by Michael Finkel.  On the one hand, I found the idea of a person just checking out of society to be fascinating.  I think the author does a good job of describing and guiding the reader to understand why someone would choose to live in isolation.  On the other hand, I felt that the author, journalist Michael Finkel, was invading the privacy of Christopher Knight, who is the subject of this book.

What I Liked:
I thought that the writing of this book was beautiful. 
Snow melted, flowers bloomed, insects droned, deer bred.  Years passed, or minutes.  "I lost grasp of time," Knight said.  "Years were meaningless.  I measured time by the season and moon.  The moon was the minute hand, the seasons the hour hand."  Thunder cracked, ducks flew, squirrels gathered, snow fell. 

I could really get a sense of the serene beauty and calm of the woods where Christopher Knight lived, alone.  I think this really helps the reader understand the appeal of the wilderness for Mr. Knight. 

I also thought the book was well-researched with the author getting expert opinions as to why people might choose to check out of society.  He also explored the possibility that Mr. Knight had a autistic condition such as Asperger's or a mental condition like Schizoid Personality Disorder.

What I Didn't Like:
Invasion Of Privacy:
I have a huge problem with the author not respecting Mr. Knight's privacy.  It is unclear from the book if he even really had permission to tell this story!  I am very conflicted about this.  Since Michael Finkel did such a good job of showing who this person was, I got an understanding of who Christopher Knight is.  But I can also see that this poor man would be mortified by this book.  I got this from the library, so I did buy this book myself.  But I wonder if the author is sharing any money he gleans from this book with Mr. Knight or his family.


Release Date:  March 7th, 2017

Genre:  Non-Fiction

Format:  Hardback Book

Source:  Public Library

Recommendation:   If you want to gain an understanding of why people become hermits, I would recommend this book.  But I am conflicted as to how ethical it was to be written in the first place.
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1 comment :

  1. Oh wow, I hadn't heard of this one before now but it sounds really interesting. I'm not usually a nonfiction girl but this is something that definitely could hold my attention. I couldn't even imagine living that way. I'm not sure how I would feel about the invasion of privacy thing. That would probably really bug me too. I'm a very private person so I think people should respect other's boundaries. Great review!


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MsArdychan has read 10 books toward her goal of 120 books.


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