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Summary

In 1986, 20-year-old Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine and disappeared into the woods. He would not speak to another human being until three decades later when he was arrested for stealing food.   

Christopher survived by his wits and courage, developing ingenious ways to store food and water in order to avoid freezing to death in his tent during the harsh Maine winters. He broke into nearby cottages for food, clothes, reading material and other provisions, taking only what he needed. In the process, he unwittingly terrified a community unable to solve the mysterious burglaries. Myths abounded amongst the locals eager to find this legendary hermit.   

Based on extensive interviews with Knight himself, this is a vividly detailed account of his secluded life and the challenges he faced returning to the world. The Stranger in the Woods is a riveting story of survival that asks fundamental questions about solitude and what makes for a good life. Above all, this is a deeply moving portrait of a man determined to live life his own way.

©2017 Michael Finkel (P)2018 Audible, Ltd

Critic reviews

"An extraordinary story about solitude, community, identity and freedom." (Guardian

"A meditation on solitude, wildness and survival. It is also, unexpectedly, a tribute to the joys of reading." (The Wall Street Journal

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What listeners say about The Stranger in the Woods

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how to do nothing and feel superior about it

Both the author and his very real character come off as overblown or self important (self defensive, maybe, in the hermits case), but otherwise the book flows well. It's interesting that most of those quoted in the book seem so outraged by this guy's decision to live by himself in the woods. I think it speaks more about people's own fears when some of the people he burglarized report living in fear of him. In the end, it is an interesting account of society's need to bring all the strays back to the fold, whether they want to return or not. Maybe we as society need to accept that not everyone wants to have a career, house, family and buy the latest model phone every few months. It's really not so outrageous a thing to imagine. Should he have rather bought a fishing line and a knife at the very beginning instead of stealing frozen food every month? Probably. Other than that, good on him.

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Fascinating Story

Phenomenal story, very well written and read.

The hermit in the story got what he was wanting out of life. With the ruthless selfishness celebrated in sporting superstars and billionaire business owners he had exactly what he wanted. Without caving to the social pressures we all face he stepped away from so much.

I’ve listened to over 100 audiobooks from Audible and this was easily my favourite.

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Interesting subject, poorly researched

The first half of the book was OK but then I think the author ran out of material and wrote some general chapters with next to nothing in then about Mr Knight. These chapters were excruciating to read if you know anything about the subject matter. He got his facts wrong in so many places that it made me question the whether any of the first part of the book was accurate. I wouldn't recommend this book at all. I regret buying it.

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Interesting life story, very annoying author

I am really fascinated by hermits and their motives, and the life story of Mr Knight is not without its contradictions, but he is thoroughly relatable to me.
What I really did not like it the author´s refusal to leave him alone after the interviews were concluded. Even interviewing him and writing the book could be seen as an overreach in itself, even though then we would not be able to hear his story.

VERY worth listening to, very philosophical and deep.

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A fantastic story of a true sage.

One of the most altrisutic, and brave souls who had the courage to abandon society and walk and live completely alone embracing silence.. Remarkable. He was truly open to living in presence and peace.

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Amazing story, well told

Brilliant I was torn between wanting to know more and leaving him alone.
The author covered all angles as honest as possible without over explaining.
I loved how it made me question my own thoughts on 'hermits' and life needs in general.

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  • Angus Murray-Smith
  • 28-12-19

Punchy and thought provoking

A well balanced and unbiased account in my view. The author does put forward his account and therefore his views but nothing is presented as fact that isn’t. It’s simplicity belies the depth the subject matter cover. I couldn’t put it down.