Read The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel Online

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

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....

Title : The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781101924921
Format Type : Audio CD
Number of Pages : 224 pages
Url Type : Home » Download » The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit
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The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit Reviews

  • Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

    Wow! This book . . . I couldn't even put it down!

    This is the story about Christopher Thomas Knight who at 20 years old, walked into the woods and ever came out until he was caught at 47 years old. He lived in the Maine woods for all of those years in bad weather and in good weather. The only thing he did wrong was burgle cabins and Pine Tree which was a place for people with disabilities. He took any kind of food to survive, watches, books, propane tanks, etc. And when he was caught he confesse

    Another decade elapsed. The break-ins at Pine Tree increased with both frequency and quantity of goods stolen. By this point, a quarter century in, the whole thing was absurd. There was the Loch Ness Monster, the Himalayan yeti, and the North Pond hermit.




    It's possible that Knight believed he was one of the few sane people left. He was confounded by the idea that passing the prime of your life in a cubicle, spending hours a day at a computer, in exchange for money, was considered acceptable, but relaxing in a tent in the woods was disturbed. Observing the trees was indolent; cutting them down was enterprising. What did Knight do for a living? He lived for a living.




    His mushroom friend that he watched grow from a baby. He was worried the police might have accidentally killed it, but the author went out and it was still there =]







    Little North Pond above.



    The woods he traveled.

    I hope others get a chance to read this book this wonderful book!

    MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List ...more

  • Ashley Brooks

    This book has left me with intensely conflicted feelings. For a while I felt like I'd be rating this quite highly.

    The story of Christopher Knight is fascinating.

    However, the motives of the author are questionable at best and his behavior is positively icky.

    It didn’t dawn on me how intensely Finkel was harassing Knight and his family until the last twenty pages or so (all of this the author seems to be aware of, but doesn't seem to find anything wrong with.) Below is spoiler territory in slightl

    “I’d simply shown up--I don’t think any other journalist had, and he knew I lived far away. It would have been rude of him, he felt, to refuse my visit, so he’d accepted it, and then was rude to my face.”


    He then proceeded to visit him 8 more times, flying back and forth from Montana to Maine and got Knight to tell him pieces of his experience. That last visit before Knight is released from jail, after Finkel again tries to shove himself into Knight’s life by offering to help him find employment, Knight tells him “Please leave me alone. I’m not going to miss you at all.”

    Knight is released, goes back to living at home and attempts to adapt to a world he didn’t want to be a part of. Needless to say, our author felt that he needed to insert himself back into the situation because HE’S REALLY QUITE SPECIAL. He attempts contacting Knight's family via telephone where they all promptly tell him NO and hang up on him. That wasn’t acceptable so he showed up at the workplace of his brother and proceeds to randomly question him, all of which his brother replies with “That’s personal.”

    The next obvious step is to show up at Knight’s family home with a pie and flowers and have a chat. Am I the only one going “WTF” over here? After a conversation in which Knight makes it clear he’s unhappy to see him, Finkel once again tries to contact a member of his family in person, and is caught by Knight who tells him he’s done “terrible damage.” He tells him to go home, back to his family. “Go back to Montana. The cowboys (his children) need their father. Leave me alone. Now.”

    Ever the White Knight, Finkel contemplates buying Knight a cabin for $16k because nothing says “Leave me alone” like gifting someone you hardly know real estate. He writes him many letters, which go unanswered, so what is our author to do? Get on a plane and go visit, of course. This time at least he writes to announce he’s coming, which ends up in him getting a response:

    “Urgently important that you leave me alone. Show me respect by leaving me alone. Please. If you appear I will call police. Leave me alone. Please.”


    That finally seemed to be clear enough for him, so he stayed home where he belonged, but kept tabs on him monthly by calling the District Attorney and other community members in Maine. Over his time visiting Maine he treated Knight’s camp in the woods as some weird sort of religious site. He visited 5 times, some of which he camped there himself. (hide spoiler)]

    This previously disgraced journalist's (was fired by the NYT for lying in print) feeling of self-importance regarding his "relationship" with this man who wanted nothing but to be left alone left me feeling quite disgusted. While I found his research on hermits in the world and in literature fascinating I can't escape the feeling of anger when thinking about his lack of respect for this man and his family. ...more

  • Ammar

    Michael Finkel's The Stranger in the Woods is the mesmerizing account of Christopher Knight's disappearance into Maine's forests for 27 years. For reasons Knight himself never fully articulates, he abandoned civilization for a hermit's life in his early twenties. Knight made his home in a small camp encircled by concealing boulders and dense flora just three minutes (by foot) from a nearby cabin. Developing into a master thief, he survived by stealing from the cabins and camps in the area -- tho ...more

  • Diane

    This book was so fascinating and engrossing that I had to give it five stars.

    The Stranger in the Woods is the unbelievable-but-true story of Christopher Knight, who in 1986 decided to go into the Maine woods and live alone in the forest. He wasn't discovered until 2013, when he was caught stealing food from nearby cabins. In those nearly three decades, Knight lived outdoors in a tent, never once sleeping in a building. (This is an astounding feat considering how cold Maine gets in winter.) He de



    "It's better to be tough than strong, better to be clever than intelligent ... I was tough and clever." — Christopher Knight



    Michael Finkel heard about Knight's story on the news and was intrigued enough to send him a letter. At this point Knight was being held in jail for his burglaries, and after some correspondence, Finkel flew to Maine to meet him. It was difficult getting Knight to open up, but eventually he shared stories of his time in the woods, and some reasons why he felt the need to escape society.

    While reading, I was reminded of another beloved book, Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild. It's a similarly fascinating story about a young man, Christopher McCandless, who felt the need to escape into nature, although McCandless ended up dying alone in Alaska. What Finkel was able to do in The Stranger in the Woods is to get a modern-day hermit to talk about his reasons for wanting solitude in nature and for isolating himself from other humans. The insights into Knight's behavior were interesting and thought-provoking.

    "All his life, he'd been comfortable being alone. Interacting with others was so often frustrating. Every meeting with another person seemed like a collision."

    Besides conversations with Knight, I liked that Finkel included examples of other hermits throughout history, and also some relevant research from psychologists and sociologists. There are also great literary references throughout the book, since Knight liked to read so much. I would highly recommend The Stranger in the Woods to everyone.

    Favorite Quotes

    "In many cultures hermits have long been considered founts of wisdom, explorers of life's great mysteries. In others they're seen as cursed by the devil. What did Knight wish to tell us? What secrets had he uncovered? Or was he just crazy?"

    "Two of life's greatest pleasures, by my reckoning, are camping and reading — most gloriously, both at once."

    "Knight lived in the dirt but was cleaner than you. Way cleaner. Pine needles and mud don't make you dirty, except superficially. The muck that matters, the bad bacteria, the evil virus, is typically passed through coughs and sneezes and handshakes and kisses. The price of sociability is sometimes our health. Knight quarantined himself from the human race and thus avoided our biohazards. He stayed phenomenally healthy."

    "His chief form of entertainment was reading ... The life inside a book always felt welcoming to Knight. It pressed no demands on him, while the world of actual human interactions was so complex. Conversations between people can move like tennis games, swift and unpredictable. There are constant subtle visual and verbal cues, there's innuendo, sarcasm, body language, tone. Everyone occasionally fumbles an encounter, a victim of social clumsiness. It's part of being human. To Knight, it all felt impossible. His engagement with the written word might have been the closest he could come to genuine human encounters."

    "I have no desire to travel. I read. That's my form of travel."

    "Modern life seems set up so that we can avoid loneliness at all costs, but maybe it's worthwhile to face it occasionally. The further we push aloneness away, the less we are able to cope with it, and the more terrifying it gets. Some philosophers believe that loneliness is the only true feeling there is ... We live locked in our own heads and can never entirely know the experience of another person. Even if we're surrounded by family and friends, we journey into death completely alone." ...more

  • Shelby *trains flying monkeys*

    *looks around at high ratings on Goodreads*



    *Decides to still review this stinking ass book*

    Okay, so when I first starting reading this book I actually liked it.

    It tells the story of a shy man who just decides to leave civilization one day and head off into the woods. He lived completely by himself and survived by robbing a neighboring camp and cabins. For twenty seven years.

    TWENTY SEVEN years.

    I find that part just fascinating. Christopher Knight didn't announce any reason for his departure he
    ...more

  • Carol (Bookaria)

    Excellent account of somebody's choice to live isolated from society.

    The irony is that although the “hermit” (Christopher Knight) despised the idea of being part of a community he still was completely dependent on society for food and supplies and resorted to regularly stealing these items in order to survive. I listened to the audiobook which had a great narrator.

    Overall, I loved the book and highly recommend it.

    EDIT: I want to share one of my favorite quotes from this book...

    “People earnestly
    ...more

  • Jeanette

    This author pushed hard to get this story. Almost too hard considering the cognition and emotive perceptions and receptive states of the hermit of this book's subject, Christopher Knight. And the title? Is he really the "last true" hermit? I completely doubt that and if he could do if for 27 years, than others have too.

    This is worth the read. The chapters 20-22 were 6 star, and some of the rest, especially in the first half was heavily padded with historical reference to past hermits, celebs, an
    ...more

  • JanB

    3.5 stars

    Haven't we all at one time or another just wanted to escape and get away from the noise and hustle and bustle of modern life? Maybe for a week or two. And maybe with a spouse or friend. Christopher Knight did just that - except he lived totally alone for 27 years in the woods in Maine, with extreme weather and no human contact except for one "hi" when he accidentally came across a hiker.

    The word hermit conjures up a vision of an ascetic who goes off to live a solitary life for spiritual
    ...more