NONFIC: The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit, by Michael Finkel

December: NonFiction

This book concerns the hermit, Christopher Knight, who spent 27 years living alone without an open fire in the Maine woods.  Christopher Knight is surprisingly articulate, and intelligent, if antisocial.  The author is careful to stick to what he actually experienced in his meetings with the hermit.  A book that seriously treats the choice of solitude as a way of life, and something of the spiritual nature of it.  Fascinating reading. – Judith

 

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.

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