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 de...

Title : The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit
Author :
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ISBN : 9781101924921
Format Type : Audio CD
Number of Pages : 224 pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit Reviews

  • 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 to anyone.

  • Betsy Robinson

    For twenty-seven years so-called hermit Christopher Knight lived in the middle of uninhabited woodlands in Maine. He “chose to disappear well within the bounds of society. . . He wasn’t so much removed from humanity as sitting on the sidelines. (53)” He stole what he needed to survive—food, clothes, books, batteries, mattresses, even a TV!—burgling invisibly, leaving little trace except for what was missing . . . until he was caught. His main entertainment was voracious reading, because the life

    One’s desire to be alone, biologists have found, is partially genetic and to some degree measurable. If you have low levels of the pituitary peptide oxytocin—sometimes called the master chemical of sociability—and high quantities of the hormone vasopressin, which may suppress your need for affection, you tend to require fewer interpersonal relationships. (69)
    Your degree of need for social inclusion is inherited from your parents, says Finkel, and, according to John Cacioppo, director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago, “everyone possesses a ‘genetic thermostat for connection.’ Chris Knight’s must be set near absolute zero. (70)”

    I was drawn to this book for two reasons: first, because although I like people, have compassion, understanding, and empathy for them, I live largely as a hermit (with a dog) in the middle of one of the biggest cities in the world, am almost never lonely or bored, and I wanted to know more about this. And second, because I adore my freedom to choose this unpopular existence, because I love democracy and my country, since 2016 I have chosen to participate with others in the fight to preserve my freedom, and I find myself frustrated with those who withdraw, calling their lack of action peacefulness or noninterest or some other label that masks a refusal to deal with new realities that, if allowed to escalate, will eventually impinge on their freedom to be disinterested.

    So I began reading this book feeling an empathy for hermits because being one is my natural disposition and an ire for them that I have never before experienced.

    What a wonderful book—a mesmerizing page-turner about man, nature, and Nature. It is not only a profile of Chris Knight but a comprehensive history and explanation of all people who choose a solitary life and the reasons they do so: to protest, as a pilgrimage, to pursue. (Read the book for full explanations.) Finkel talks about the “emancipation” of being a hermit, of becoming “no one and everyone (144),” which is certainly something I know and love—as have many other hermit writers and artists.

    But early on in his twenty-seven years of solitude, Chris Knight realizes “something almost every hermit in history has discovered: you can’t actually live by yourself all the time. You need help. (89)” (Hence, his life of crime.)

    Perhaps this is something I have discovered late in life—hence my new aversion to what I have been.

    This book was enlightening and I absolutely loved it.

    Postscript for other bookish hermits

    I just learned about a way to participate in our war for democracy while preserving your solitude: Write letters from your own home. Join Vote Forward. They will provide templates and names and addresses of unlikely voters who might get out to vote with a good letter’s nudge. ...more

  • 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 years.

    I have never read anything like this, canno
    ...more

  • 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, I do highly recommend this incredible story o
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  • 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

  • Petra X

    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 hermi
    ...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

  • Char

    3.5/5 stars.

    This book has me conflicted! I listened to it, narrated by Mark Bramhall, and he was excellent. What follows are my thoughts on this book while trying to avoid spoilers, (even though the synopsis tells a lot already). Perhaps my feelings will become more clear as I write.

    What I found most fascinating was this: think about how long you've gone in your life without talking to or touching another human being. I'm talking phone calls, internet, or hugs. As the author points out in this
    ...more