The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel

The Stranger in the Woods

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...

Details The Stranger in the Woods

TitleThe Stranger in the Woods
Release DateMar 7th, 2017
PublisherBooks on Tape
GenreNonfiction, Biography, Autobiography, Memoir

Reviews The Stranger in the Woods

  • Diane S ☔
    At the age of twenty, Christopher Knight, leaves his large though taciturn family, his job, and society as a whole and disappears into the Maine woods. He will live within a short distance from others but make no personal contact, will steal what he needs from cabins left empty from the winter or weekend and survive totally on his own. When he is caught, never having physically harmed anyone, he will not have spoken to another human being for 27 ...
  • Jennifer
    “...sometime in the 1990s, he encountered a hiker walking in the woods. “What did you say?” asks Vance. “I said, 'Hi,'” Knight replies. Other than that single syllable, he insists, he had not spoken with or touched another human being, until this evening, for twenty-seven years.” Dang, that's some solitude right there. After no identifiable antecedent, Christopher Knight walked into the woods of Maine at the age of twenty years old ...
  • Connie
    Have you ever felt like getting away from the stress of modern life for a few days? Christopher Knight took that idea to the extreme, walking into the woods of Maine and living in isolation for 27 years. He was an introverted, intelligent twenty-year-old with a dry sense of humor. He had been brought up in a family that prided themselves on their practical skills and self-reliance, and set up a camp hidden by large boulders. But Knight had to ste...
  • Laura
    I started this book and finished within 24 hours. It's absolutely fascinating. I do not think that it was acceptable to steal from others but it's pretty amazing that this guy stayed off the grid for 27 years. This book was so interesting. It has taken alot of self-control not to tell every detail to my family members. If you need a book to discuss in social settings where the people are not book nerds(like me), grab this one. Totally recommend t...
  • Ed
    After the article in GQ, was eager to get my hands on this. It's a study of the meaning of freedom and loneliness, highly readable biography for fans of Into the Wild and a litany of books on silence, solitude, and meditation on the modern world. A man walks into the woods and remains there for 27 years with zero human contact, surviving on stolen junk food and stubborn refusal, I'm in love.
  • Renee
    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 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...What did Knight to for a living? He lived for a living.This is a story that will speak to the introverts out there (hi, that's me); the people that need qui...
  • Marchpane
    Such a fascinating book, I absolutely tore through it, despite feeling it was a flawed depiction. The author over-romanticises his subject, portraying him as a philosopher-monk who "lived for a living" (um, nope - he stole for his living) and who "observed modern life and recoiled from its banality" when in fact he relied entirely on modern conveniences to survive. Among his favourite things: Everybody Loves Raymond and boxed mac & cheese. Still,...
  • Kristi
    loved most everything about this book; I wish subject Christopher Knight was kinder to Author Michael Finkel in his search for answers; Michael's writing here is intriguing and awesome, and the story so original. I really enjoyed this look into the life and mind of a man who desired only to be left alone, yet whose actions in doing so go against safe and legal morality. Highly recommend and great for book clubs.
  • Kendra
    I needed some "light fare" after braving John Lewis' fantastic autiobiography ( Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement ) over the weekend, and I just so happened to have been given an ARC of Finkel's latest book. It fits the bill, certainly ... less a novel-length proposition than a novella which reads like an extended The New York Times piece. I have no particular bones to pick with Finkel except for one, and it is an important one: He ...
  • Jessica Weil
    3.5 Stars."He wished to be unconditionally alone, exiled to an island of his own creation, an uncontacted tribe of one."In 1986, 20-year-old Christopher Knight drove his car to the edge of a forest in rural Maine, abandoned it by the side of the road, and disappeared into the woods for 27 years.In 2013 he was arrested while burglarizing a local camp. It turns out he had burglarized homes and camps in the area thousands of times over the years for...
  • Robin
    This book took me out of my reading slump and any book that can do that receives a high rating.What a fascinating and intriguing character Christopher Knight turns out to be. As the author outlines through his descriptions of various historical characters and lifestyles, being a true hermit who for 27 years never spoke with anyone (aside from one quick greeting to a couple of hikers he ran into to)--or even talked aloud for that matter--is extrem...
  • Dylan Perry
    Overall, I was underwhelmed by this book. The subject matter is fascinating, but the execution failed to grip me. The beginning read like a shitty pulp novel, and even once we got to the meat of the book, I couldn't help but feel bored throughout the whole thing. The most enjoyment I got was thinking of how to restructure the telling, or figuring out how better to present the story of Christopher Knight, but that only gets me so far. If it hadn't...
  • Carin
    I wasn't sure about this book. Was I going to like it? It looked really tempting. But so had Into the Wild, which was a rare DNF for me. Was this hermit going to be like that privileged brat? Was I going to end up rolling my eyes and frustrated?Thankfully, no. One day Chris Knight drove to Maine (where he was from) with minor camping equipment, abandoned his car, and hiked for a long way. He stayed in the woods for the next 27 years. Everyone imm...
  • Amanda
    When Christopher Knight was 20 he quit his job and went into the Maine woods. He said no goodbyes and really had no concrete plan. He lived there for almost 30 years with no human contact. I found this to be a fascinating story with lots to ponder.
  • Marika
    At times we all might think that we would like to be alone for awhile. For Christopher Knight, that "for awhile" turned out to be 27 years. 27 years of living in solitude in the woods of Maine where he lived in a tent, never built a fire, spoke to anyone or even took a hot shower. He just was. It's easy to romanticize Christopher until the reader learns that in order to survive, he broke into vacation cottages to steal food and supplies. He had h...
  • Elizabeth☮
    Christopher Knight walked into the woods of Maine at the age of twenty with no intention of walking out.It is interesting to read about Knight's modes of survival and how he haunted the residents that lived in the nearby cabins by sneaking in and taking items he needed every season. He seems to rationalize that he only took what he needed and never what looked expensive, but he stole to survive. This, to me, doesn't really smack of a transcendent...
  • Gloria
    "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 loneliness 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."How does an unexpected book, stumbled upon by accident, about a modern day hermit summon within me such feelings of compassion and empathy?Are...
  • Maxine
    2.5 starsThis is a short book-length version of the GQ article Michael Finkel wrote on the same topic. If you've already read the article, there really isn't much more you're going to learn here.Chris Knight walked away from his life at the age of 20 and spent 27 years living alone, outside, in Maine, stealing what he needed to survive from the cabins around him. He spoke one word in all that time to another human being. Until he was caught, whil...
  • Allen Adams
    2017-03-02 among us hasn’t wanted to be left alone? Haven’t we all had moments when we wish for the peace and quiet of solitude?But what if that solitude lasted for nearly three decades?Michael Finkel’s book “The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit” tells the story of one such man, a man who spent 27 years alone in the forests of central Maine.The North Pond Hermit cast...
  • Shira Selkovits
    At the age of 20, Christopher Knight drives his car into Maine, tosses his keys into the center console, and sets off into the woods where he'd remain, surviving in solitude, for 27 years. Does this sound insane? The craziest thing about this story is that it's TRUE. This is an absolutely fascinating piece of non-fiction. Christopher Knight's story is handled so deftly and respectfully by Michael Finkel. Finkel's thoughtful research and genuine d...
  • Sara Klem
    Finkel is a beautiful writer and this story is fascinating, but I can't help but feel like this entire thing is a moral grey area.. The hermit gave his blessing for a book to be written only after his death, and as far as I know he's still alive. I've always been a believer that everyone is entitled to a degree of privacy, whether they have something to hide or not, and while we're talking about a survivalist thief we're also talking about a (pot...
  • Jennifer
    Interesting in so many ways, albeit a little sad.
  • Elissa
    (3.5 stars) In 1986, a 20-year-old man got out of his car and disappeared into a Maine forest. For 27 years, he lived in a blind spot of the forest 3 minutes away from civilization, by stealing food and provisions from unoccupied cabins in the area. He never even built a fire for fear of discovery, and was finally caught when burgling supplies. I hadn't really heard of Christopher Knight before this, but the story is almost too crazy to be true. ...
  • Vegantrav
    I found this story and its protagonist, Christopher Knight, utterly fascinating--all the more so because it is true. Why would Knight willingly walk away from society and live completely alone for nearly three decades? And how did he survive? What did he do to pass the time and keep from going crazy from boredom? What kind of person could live in such isolation for so long? And, after being unwillingly drawn back into society, would Knight be wil...
  • Lisa
    I had not heard of Christopher Knight or his story of living in the woods for 27 years. This story is well written and intriguing. Why and how are everyone's questions and the author attempts to solve them through his correspondence, visits with Christopher, interviews with experts as well as people in the area. He also quotes other "loners" or those who prefer solitude. What does it mean to not touch another human, talk to another human, live wi...
  • Sarah
    I was really intrigued by Christopher Knight and his decision to abandon society at age 20 and rough it in the forests of Maine for 27 years. For someone that admittedly stole from innocent families over "a thousand times", you'd expect such a guy to be unlikable and even kind of crazy. The odd part is that he is sane and remorseful for what he's done. Every break-in caused him intense stress, even if what he stole was necessary for his survival....
  • Teresa
    An account of an utterly fascinating choice of solitary living that leaves me a bit chilled. To me, Maine is practically the top of the world and the thought of living through decades of its winters makes me literally shake. Because Chris Knight was not wont to tell much of his story, the author fills the book with the history of hermitism (hermitary? hermititeness?) and literary references to solitude that I found comforting.
  • Jack
    "The more you realize, the more you realize there is nothing to realize...The idea that there's somewhere we have got to get to, and something we have to attain, is our basic delusion."
  • Hannah Mae
    Probably the most astonishing book I have read in years. I clutched it close to my heart when I finished it.