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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 Years, Making This Dream A Reality Not Out Of Anger At The World, But Simply Because He Preferred To Live On His OwnIn , 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


10 thoughts on “The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit

  1. says:

    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 slightly ranty form regarding this gross behavior so proceed at your own risk view spoiler Finkel began by mailing Knight letters in prison, which Knight responded to only because the majority were crazy, creepy, just plain strange while Finkels he implied, wasn t particularly creepy and because he d sensed something pleasing in the words I d chosen to use As if catching himself getting a little friendly, he abruptly wrote that he didn t wish to reveal anything So naturally he persisted in sending letters Knight answered for a while 5 times , until he decided he no longer had it in him to respond Finkel sent him three letters after that, with no response so Finkel decided to fly from Montana to Maine to VISIT HIM IN PRISON UNANNOUNCED 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 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


  2. says:

    Four stars, just There were two stories here, but the author only told one I understand why but I am frustrated so I added, just.All American kid age 20 abandons his new car and wanders off into the woods to live alone and make a career out of burglary Strange eh Not half so strange as his family who never even report him missing or make any attempt whatsoever to find him The book would have been shorter if the author had stuck to the title but it was padded out with history, famous hermits, religion, motivation etc some of which was interesting There was a discussion on whether Knight had Asperger s, was autistic or schizoid It reminded me of what Asperger himself said Not to pathologise the merely eccentric There is a difference between bat shit crazy and a clinical mental illness, we all know that The second story, which was interesting in and of itself, was of the family What family doesn t immediately report their 20 year old son gone missing to the police What do they say to people who ask after him, friends or family Aren t they anxious for his safety Don t they wait by the phone for a call The family wondered if he was alive Wasn t anyone suspicious Unfortunately Knight s family were so uncommunicative that there was nothing to report, only to surmise Now it seems to me that these people have a pathological mental illness When in prison, Knight himself didn t turn into a garrulous party animal after 27 years of not speaking to another soul, by choice This made life a bit difficult for the author who has obviously tried his best to get to the root of why Knight became a hermit.It was an interesting book, but it wasn t fully fleshed out, and to a reader it doesn t matter why it wasn t, whether it was because of Knight being so taciturn, the author or the writing, only that the book didn t deliver a deep experience, the extraordinary story when it promised to.


  3. says:

    I greatly appreciate all of the reviews here even the bad ones Though, I admit, it s sometimes a bit painful to read them There are so many books out there, I am grateful that you ve chosen to take a peek at The Stranger in the Woods It took me three years of full time work to write a 191 page book that is a ridiculously slow pace I can t, of course, say whether or not the book is any good that s for you readers to decide but I can promise that I weighed every paragraph, every word, to make the story as accurate and compelling as possible I want to emphasize that this is a true story no fake news here and has been thoroughly fact checked There are so many elements of this story that seem to defy belief no fire for 27 years never saw a doctor but I can assure you that, to the very best of my abilities, and the abilities of professional fact checkers, this tale is completely true Thank you, Goodreads community, for the support


  4. says:

    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 confessed right away about these things and said he was sorry for it He had 1000 burglaries over the course of his life All he wanted was to live alone in the woods and survive He never hurt anyone and he never damaged anything The author, Michael Finkel met Christopher while he was in jail He wouldn t talk very much When he did open up I found that so many things he said opened my eyes even to the world we live in and how being quiet in nature is important than even writing this review Too many things take over our lives and I would like to start simplifying things then I already do which is going to take about 6 years Christopher didn t ever get a cold or any major issues accept for his teeth from a lot of the sugar he ate because when you live like that and you take what you can get He was wearing the same glasses he was wearing at age 20, he was losing his sight but they fixed him up with some new glasses when he got caught Chris knew the woods, his hearing became fine tuned to every little sound, even the minute ones He never left any tracks When he left his camp, he stepped in the same places that he had stepped in for years The police were amazed about that while watching him when they followed him back to his camp I m just amazed at this book I wish he didn t have to do all of the burglaries but I think he should have been left alone and there are a lot of people that feel the same If I had a cabin in that area I would have left him out some food, mostly right before winter A big lot that he could have over the course of the winter to survive so he wouldn t have to go and get so much stuff to make sure he stayed alive He wasn t a free loader just because he stole food to survive in the woods Seriously, I know some free loaders that just don t want to work and live off someone else My cousin, she has one of those I think if he could have had the nice part of the community to leave him some food and let him be alone in the woods that would have been a nice thing He just wanted to be in the woods He didn t want to sit in his house and watch tv or drink or do drugs, things free loaders do He just wanted to sit with nature, listen to the odd pbs broadcast on his radio and read books I didn t think it was right to bring him back, make him live with his family and work with his brother The quiet was gone and he wanted to kill himself I don t know what ever happened with that or how he is doing now I really hope he finds a way to get back to his nature in some way I thought while reading the book that maybe he could go out and live in the woods close to his family where he would have some quiet and his nature I don t know But he was always good and did what the police said and did his community service without any trouble He never caused any trouble or denied anything when he was caught Once again this book was so very good I m going to have to get my own copy since this was a library book It was my own type of feel good book with some of the little things Chris said I m going to leave a few pictures below that came from the author s website taken from him and the Maine Police There are but you can go look yourself And I will leave an excerpt or two 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


  5. says:

    Christopher Knight is possibly the most solitary known person in history Capturing Knight after 27 years. known as the North Pond Hermit was like netting a giant squid When captured he was wearing a pair of LandsEnd jeans size 38 with a brown belt Stollen goods Knight s story continued to be equally as fascinating after he was captured as much as why Knight chose a reclusive life in the woods of Maine in the first place There are the details about how Christopher Knight survived the many many MANY break ins stealing food, supplies, books, etc surviving the elements of the seasons LIVING IN A WORLD WITHOUT WALLSfor 27 years..surviving psychologically sometimes meditating and living as a hermit criminal I would have given him food clothes flashlights batteries and books too There is this fascinating cliffhanger of stories.that happened once Knight was captured Journalist from all over the world we re trying to get hold of Christopher Knight s story Letters, phone calls, and visitors we re pouring into the jail A woman offered to marry him He was offered money, cleaning services, donations of all kinds Knight didn t accept ANY of the gifts Every TV network wanted their hands on the story Five songs were written about Christopher Knight People were curious People wanted to help People wanted to learn from Christopher Knight Was he an explorer of life And if so what words of wisdom could he pass on Or was he just crazy I HAD HEARD OF THIS STORY BEFORE LISTENING TO THE AUDIOBOOKI d have to had been a hermit , not to The Stranger In The Woods , WAS SOOO MUCH MORE POWERFUL TO LISTEN TO MYSELF than everything I had previous read about it In fact, I read tons of reviews ways back when this book first came out as I never thought I was going to read the book I felt I got the story What else did I need THE EXPERIENCE WAS MISSING UNTIL I LISTENED MYSELF NO REVIEWS SPOILED my EXPERIENCE NOT AT ALL KNOWING ABOUT THIS STORY WAS NOT THE SAME I was expecting to be semi critical I mostly belong with the believers that we should LEAVE THIS MAN ALONE. he shouldn t have to talk if he doesn t want to but I think what was created with this book is a contribution to MANY PEOPLE INCLUDING Christopher Knight Knight was shy about most things except literature and history He would talk about books he read I had heard that the author was a jerk from a few readers I don t feel this way As I listened to this audiobook my respect for author, Michael Finkel elevated Finkel gave us the reader background information historically about other hermits which added a great context to Christopher Knight s story We see from past history monks and other spiritual hermit s who found inner peace and wisdom Hermits are a PRIMAL HUMAN INTEREST STORY I DID UNDERSTAND WHY FINKEL WANTED TO INTERVIEW KNIGHT I ALSO FELT FINKEL WAS TENDER COMPASSIONATE and RESPECTFUL OF KNIGHT I found it very sweet when after Michael Finkel wrote Knight a hand written letter a man close in age as Knight who also loved to spend long periods of time alone with himself Enjoyed camping and reading alone..Knight wrote Finkel back and said, it was very sweet that you wrote me a personal note Point is THE LONGER I LISTENED I came to believe that Knight and Finkel developed a lovely friendship of equal respect I m glad I read it.It gave me a bigger picture than I had previous thought Whatever I thought I knew about this story before..didn t come close to the magnitude of the actual facts.


  6. says:

    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 just went We probably would be okay with never knowing anything else I admit to being curious about his everyday life and exactly how he survived the brutal Maine wintersbecause I m a nosey bitch I don t really like a whole lot of people either so I could totally see the wanting to be away from them Probably not that long of a time period but still.Nowbefore you get your panties all in a snitch about my rating I DID think this book was very readableI finished the thing in almost one day and that is unheard of for me lately BUT THE THING PISSES ME OFF Why Christopher Knight did NOT seem to ever really want to be interviewed by Michael Finkel He actually did not want to see him So what does Finkel do He flies from Montana to Maine SEVERAL times to see him The last part of this book had my stomach kinda twitchy..and IT TAKES A WHOLE LOT TO TWITCHY ME The author admits after Knight finally leaves jail he flies out to see him and his family tells him NO several times Does that stop him Freaking hell no He shows up at the dude s mom s house with a freaking pie and plant branch I think lilac but I had stopped caring by this point Is that the same kinda thing as showing up at a reviewer s house Both seem kinda over the top to me..I am giving this stupid ass book 1.5 stars because I admit to being creepy enough that I at FIRST wanted details about this poor man s life After reading how the details were gotten I just feel freaking dirty and wish that the man had just been left alone I m ashamed I read it I m not ashamed to review it badly Sometimes I do feel bad for giving a book a low review because I know reader s tastes are different This one just pisses me off I feel like this author just wanted to make a buck off this poor man and I m pissed off about it He can kiss my fat butt Booksource I got this sucker at the library Thank gods for libraries because I d want my money back for this one and I HAVE never asked for my money back on a book.


  7. says:

    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 years I have never read anything like this, cannot even imagine for a minute this appealing to many, but for this young man it was a total life of freedom This is not a book on nature, though of course it is mentioned and Christopher relished nature in all its many forms It is a book of quiet and solitude and a different way of finding joy in living one s life the way one wants to or maybe even needs is the better word choice It is astonishing and makes one reflect on the things we value, take for granted.Can you imagine not speaking for 27 years We have a new salt room in my town I asked my daughter if she would care to go and her response was, An hour is a long time not to talk, I don t think I could be quiet that long How many of us are ever quiet for any length of time and yet for Christopher this was the life he preferred The author hears about the story and contacts him in jail, surprised when he shows up at the prison and Christopher agrees to see him Regardless of how one feels about how the author got this story, one can tell he was much impressed and later very concerned about this now 47 year old Man s future Where does he go from here How does he reintegrate into a society where time has passed him by This is his story, read it, I promise it will be a unique experience.ARC from publisher.Published March 7th by Knopf publishing.


  8. says:

    The Stranger in the Woods The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel is a 2017 Knopf publication Is it fact or fiction I don t suppose this story ever showed up on my Newsfeed here in Texas, or if it did, it didn t register with me at the time But, I will say, that as an extreme introvert, I am no longer concerned about my tendency to avoid social gatherings, because Christopher Knight s case makes me feel like a social butterfly by comparison.Christopher Knight when off grid shortly after graduating from high school and spent the next twenty seven years of his life living in the woods in rural Maine To survive, he rummaged through summer cabins, uninhabited camp sites and such, and stole food, radios, batteries, and all manner of other items to live on He soon earned the moniker of The North Pond Hermit and was highly sought after by the police One day, while rummaging through an off season camp site, his luck ran out and he was arrested This is when Finkel became involved in starting up a correspondence with Christopher, that led to the writing of this book, and if I m not mistaken a documentary as well This story is fascinating, due in part, to how Christopher managed to survive those brutal Maine winters out in the woods But, he was far brilliant than I would have imagined He s smart, very smart, but he just didn t want to live around people If he had done it the right way, without stealing from people, it really would have been much remarkable, and he would still be out there living the life he prefers It is hard for people to understand someone like Christopher I can relate to him in many ways, but certainly have no desire for that extreme manner of solitude Yet, someone who shuns society, who is different from the norm must be psychoanalyzed the nth degree and it was suggested to the reader that Christopher may have some symptoms of Asperger s or maybe even schizophrenic tendencies Christopher s childhood can account for some of his behavior, I would think, since he was raised in a rather isolated environment Christopher knew how to survive without constant companionship and apparently had no real need of it The one thing the book really takes a hard look at, is why Why would someone deliberately choose to do what Christopher did There are various reasons people become hermits and it s not as uncommon as you might think Yet, in Christopher s case, he doesn t fall into any of the usual categories and offers no real answers to this all consuming question The saddest thing about this story is that Christopher was forced back into society, and is obviously miserable Yet, he was a thief and he frightened people, and a crime is a crime, even if no one was physically harmed So, he had to pay his debt to society This is certainly an interesting story, and it s hard to believe all of it is true, but truth, as you know, can be stranger than fiction It s an amazing story of survival, and a riveting character study, and an overall fantastical, incredible true story While some people doubt aspects of Knight s story, and I m one of those people who remains skeptical at all times, no matter what, but there is enough physical evidence to back up the story so, I see no reason to doubt him, at this time note Finkel did commit the ultimate journalism faux pas by falsifying reports on child labor in Africa, at one time I don t know how I feel about Christopher I think people should live their lives as they see fit, and if he wants to live out in the woods all alone, I suppose that s his prerogative However, he should not have broken the law or rationalized his crimes in order to maintain his chosen lifestyle While I do feel his discomfort and even understand it to some extent, I hope he can make peace with his life now and will become a productive citizen using the obvious gifts he was born with I do wish him the best 4 stars


  9. says:

    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 say to me here, Mr Knight, we have cellphones now, and you re going to really enjoy them That s their enticement for me to rejoin society You re going to love it, they say I have no desire And what about a text message Isn t that just using a telephone as a telegraph We re going backwards Michael Finkel, The Stranger in the Woods The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit


  10. says:

    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 devised an ingenious campsite that was hidden behind boulders and surrounded by dense trees His only real problem was food, and he frequently had to steal supplies to stay alive It s better to be tough than strong, better to be clever than intelligent I was tough and clever Christopher KnightMichael 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 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.