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Summer Reading 2017: The Stranger in the Woods

Find the book you want to read this summer!

Geoff is excited for you to read this book because...

For 27 years, Christopher Knight lived alone in the Maine woods, only speaking one word to another human during this time. What compelled him to such a solitary existence? How did he survive? Perhaps because of my own affinity for solitude and reflection, I found Knight's story fascinating, and read it in two days (including alone on the top of a mountain). Highly recommended.

About the book

The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit

by Michael Finkel 

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. 

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.

For fans of

  • Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer 
  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed
  • Walden by Henry David Thoreau 
  • being a hermit

About the reader

Geoff Ruth, Academic Dean

Geoff has previously recommended the following books:

  • The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert
  • The Curfew by Jesse Ball
  • The World Without Us by Alan Weisman
  • The Disappearing Spoon and Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean
  • Snowball Earth by Gabrielle Walker
  • Field Notes from a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert