The Stranger in the Woods

The Stranger in the Woods

The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit

Book - 2017 | First edition.
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May 12, 2020

In 1986 20-year-old Chris Knight drove his Subaru deep into the remote forests of Maine. He abandoned the vehicle and set out into the wilderness with virtually nothing. Over time he erected a camp for himself, where he lived in solitude for more than two decades, sustaining himself only by stealing from nearby camps and cabins. When anti-theft technology finally became no match for him, he was finally apprehended in 2013. What drove Knight to self-isolate to such an extent? Is he nuts? What sort of atonement is appropriate for over one thousand incidences of theft during that time by an individual who simply wanted to be alone? This incredible (Maine winters are COLD!) story of survival is told deftly by journalist Michael Finkel, who corresponded with and paid several visits to Knight while he was incarcerated. I'm not sure why, but survival/isolation stories resonate with me, and I've long romanticized the idea of setting out on a journey with only what I can carry on my back.

Mar 21, 2020

The Stranger in the Woods is a pretty good book that follows author Michael Finkel learn about Christopher Knight, a man who lived in solitude for 27 years. At some parts, Finkel writes more about himself than necessary, but all in all the book is a fun read that's really interesting.

Mar 20, 2020

"The Stranger in the Woods" is an intriguing book about a hermit in the woods of Maine who survived for 27 years without any human contact. He stole only necessary supplies from nearby cabins, but was eventually apprehended while during one of his burglaries.

I would recommend this book for anyone who would enjoy a good analysis of an interesting story.

Feb 20, 2020

A bit of silence and solitude will do our souls some good.

This book was a very interesting true story about a twenty year old man, who waked away from society and chose to live in the woods. This takes place in a remote area, of the state of Maine. The story about Chris Knight is interesting, however, what fascinated me was how Finkel goes into detail about the history of living in solitude, or what might be considered being a "hermit". There are different titles given to these individuals, such as, recluse, monks, swamis, anchorites, ascetics. He describes three general groups to explain why they hide: protesters, pilgrims, pursuers. All the information Finkel provides regarding these three groups was what I found so fascinating. For example, there are around a million protester hermits living in Japan right now, called hikikomori -"pulling forward", who have rejected Japan's pressure-cooker culture. What's bizarre about these people, is that many have retreated to their bedrooms and never come out. Pilgrims, considered religious hermits, are the largest group. Jesus Christ for example would be considered a Pilgrim. Finkel sights several familiar people I would not have considered as hermits, but he describes why they would be. I loved this book and the history it provided about this subject.

cmlibrary_sally Feb 13, 2020

Fantastic non-fiction book about a man who wanted to escape our modern world. Super fast read that makes you think about your own life and those you love.

Feb 10, 2020

A little dry at some parts but so full of information. I really enjoyed the story of Christopher Knight.

CCPL_Carly Feb 03, 2020

Though the bones of this story were covered in a long- form GQ Magazine article from 2014, Finkel’s book is much more in depth, providing a fascinating examination of solitude and why people seek it. He skillfully interweaves references in literature and religion as he follows Knight’s fate. His research on the ground, getting to know the Maine residents and experiencing the woods first-hand, allows the reader to feel connected to his quest to find out why Christopher Knight abandoned society. This is an excellent character study, especially for those who have ever felt the desire to leave the modern world behind.

Dec 06, 2019

Wasn't sure I was going to like this book but I was a bit sad when it ended. Not only does Finkel tell us the story of Chris but the story of people over time who have chosen or been forced onto solitude. Possible reasons why people chose this path and the effects on different individuals. Tying this information into a story about a real person was enlightening. This is a well researched book where the scientific facts, community and protagonist are well explained in story fashion.

Nov 19, 2019

I began reading this book and could not stop until it was completed....not something I normally do. This story of the need for solitude is utterly captivating especially when contrasted with those who suffer from being alone such as prisoners placed in solitary confinement. This entire exploration of the differences in how the human psyche reacts to the same circumstances is spellbinding....worth the read, most definitely.

Oct 31, 2019

The Stranger in the Woods overall is a good book. My complaints about it are simply that it talks too much about topics other than Christopher Knight and that it has a long introduction. Despite that, some of the topics in the book that have little to do with Christopher Knight are interesting and informational. Once the book starts talking more about Christopher Knight’s perspective it becomes really engaging. Overall, the Stranger in the Woods is an engaging and interesting book.

ArapahoeAnnaL Aug 25, 2019

This is an interesting story made fascinating by the terrific writing and humanity of the journalist author Michael Finkel.

Aug 14, 2019

The Stranger in the Woods is an interesting biography of a man who wanted nothing more than to not have a biography written about him. Philip Knight is a remarkable person, and I am glad to have learned his story, but the fact that he is so reluctant to share anything about himself or to share himself with others felt very voyeuristic. I feel like the book is as much about its author, Michael Finkel, as it is about its subject. I found trying to understand the author to be as intriguing as trying to understand the motivations of Knight himself. The prose was beautiful and it carried strong arguments against certain aspects of the criminal justice system which was unexpected but welcome.

Mar 21, 2019

I was never much of a non-fiction lover before I read this book. However, Finkel tells a captivating story about the hermit, Christopher Knight. This book went so much further than just exploring the ideas of survival; it showed me a new perspective on life. Finkel makes a life of solitude seem so enticing. He highlights many benefits of living a life of solitude throughout the book, but he also shows readers the downsides (especially regarding Knight's life). I would definitely read this book again and recommend to anyone looking for an eye-opening read.

PimaLib_SamR Mar 05, 2019

This book captures the life of Christopher Knight who went into the Maine woods at the age of 20, only to come out again 27 years later. During those years he had no real human interaction. The story is fascinating and begins like a good mystery, drawing the reader in until one can’t put it down. Finkel tracks Knight’s re-entry into society which is at times empathetic and at times hostile to his plight. The author suggests that there are three categories of hermits which he describes, and he delves into some of the current research on them. As bit of a loner myself (although not 27 years’ worth), I found this book compelling.

Jan 10, 2019

This was my personal book of the year for 2014. I could not stop thinking about it. Engaging and pragmatic and oddly timed. It was like dancing under water. I am a Gen-Xer and this man fits the spectrum of the time that cared and tried and lived and died daily to a rather opaque ending to an unknown beginning. I may by ten and hand them out as gifts to poeple 45 to 55.

Nov 06, 2018

I really enjoyed this book. I found it to be an eye opener. The way the story is set up keeps it interesting, the chapters are short and concise which helps keep the readers engaged in the story. It is not a story that is easy to predict which is also why I loved this book. I think that seeing things from a different perspective really opened my eyes to the world and how our world works today. I think that it is always important to learn new things through other people's perspectives and this book really helps you do that. I enjoyed reading this book form the beginning and sometimes I found myself lost in the book and time would fly by. i would recommend this book and it is a book that I would most likely read again.

Nov 04, 2018

The Stranger In The Woods is a good book to read if you want a non-fiction book. If you do not like non-fiction books all that much, this is a good book to read because it doesn't feel like one. The book is about a hermit, Christopher Knight, who managed to live for 27 years in the forest without anyone seeing him, save for one person in all that time. This story is viewed through the author's eyes, so it is a very interesting point of view. The vocabulary is not too difficult so most people can read it since it's a relatively short book at a little over 200 pages. I would definitely recommend this book to my friends and family!

Sep 07, 2018

A look into the life of someone who has removed himself from society, revealing a different look at our society.

Jul 19, 2018

Per the below comment: It's not a hoax. Writer/journalist Michael Finkel's book tells the incredible story of Christopher Knight, who, as young man, disappeared into the Maine woods and lived alone as a "hermit" (a word he rejects) for nearly three decades. Part of his survival was based on stealing, and he was eventually caught and tried. There are echoes of "Into the Wild," although the ending is less bleak, and nature classics like "Walden" (Knight does not think highly of Thoreau.) and Abbey's "Desert Solitaire." It's quite compelling and thoughtful, exploring both man's connection to nature, the rejection of society, and solitude. You might also like "My Abandonment," about a father and daughter living in the woods.

Apr 14, 2018

likely a hoax

Mar 24, 2018

This is a very good read. His will to survive and thrive is amazing. As you read, you begin to understand all the lives that were touched beyond his.

TristanTM Mar 07, 2018

This book might depress you, because we "live" in the world that the hermit removed himself from. Still, it may resonate with you regardless and for that reason it's highly worth a read.

Feb 07, 2018

What makes this book compelling is the depth of story telling. More than a simple, journalistic description, the author brings up the challenging aspects beyond man-lives-in-woods. The main character steals, knows it is wrong, but still does it. Do we despise a man who steals food from a camp for children or admire his thievery being limited to essentials? There are other interesting issues along the way. To me, the ending was the best part. After so many years separate from people, how will he react after being submerged back in society. In summary, a great book about a good story.

Jan 30, 2018

Crazy story and well told. Appreciate how the author researched and interviewed a variety of groups (local neighbors, medical professionals, law enforcement, hermits) to focus on a complete character portrayal. Quick read and definitely recommend!

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