Reading project takes book lovers on a walk, fly fishing

This year's One Book One Bluegrass appears to have struck a chord among outdoorsy Central Kentuckians: It's Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods, about the author's trek on the Appalachian Trail.

Call it reader bonding by the book.

"The book itself is more popular than last year's selection," said Doug Tattershall, media relations coordinator at the Lexington Public Library. Last year's book was Garth Stein's The Art of Racing in the Rain.

A Walk in the Woods "is more tangible," Tattershall said.

"It's great to read in the spring. You're more interested in getting outside. It's really good and has resonated with a lot of people."

The book has seen lively circulation among participating libraries. The Lexington library system's total circulation for A Walk in the Woods since March is 231 (print, audiobook and ebook), with 11 reserves. Scott County's library has had circulation of 82 for the book; Woodford County has circulated the book 136 times and has 18 reserves.

Bryson is a funny guy who has exercised his gift for erudition amidst Dave Barry-esque humor to other subjects, including Australia (In a Sunburned Country), how our homes evolved (At Home: A Short History of Private Life) and his adopted country of England (Notes from a Small Island). In A Walk in the Woods, there is hilarity amidst the history and scenery.

For the library professionals across a nine-county area of Central Kentucky, that made it a perfect pick. Although the Lexington public library system had offered One Book One Lexington for six years, this is the second year for the nine-county collaboration, which extends through April.

The idea is to get people reading, talking, visiting area libraries and taking part in activities broadly related to the book's themes.

Mark Adler of the Paris-Bourbon County Public Library said that a fly-fishing course offered by the library was expected to draw about 60 people. Adler himself is a fan of A Walk in the Woods.

"I've hiked small segments (of the Appalachian Trail) in Maine and New Hampshire and Virginia. It's beautiful, but it's a daunting prospect," Adler said.

Melissa Gibson, the reference librarian at the Scott County Public Library, said Bryson's book "was a good inspiration. ... This one seemed so perfect because you've got nature, hiking and health; you've got animals."

Among the Scott County library's offerings was a photography expedition with Lexington photographer John Snell, which drew about 30 people to the event.