Some of the references from the giant teetering pile beside my bed have been more helpful than others, for sure. But I have gleaned a little bit of something from just about everything, which makes the paper cuts from the pages and lumps on the head from the collapsing pile of books almost worth it.
For instance, even though the AT Thru Hike Planning Workbook was a bit outdated (he hiked the trail in 1988, for Pete's sake), I did find the gear and food planning checklists handy. And Trail Tested had me re-thinking all of my old backpacking gear, buying a luggage scale, and scouting EMS and REI for the lightest gear possible (provided it was on sale) But the food suggestions in this book left much to be desired. (I mean, if I was 23 maybe I could hike for months on nothing but PopTarts, Snickers, and Lipton Noodles, but at age 43, that ain't happening. I would die. I would just curl up and disintegrate into a pile of partially-hydrogenated high-fructose anguish) If you look closely, Backpacker magazine has an article called "The Truth about Bears." I read that at least 16 times. I will probably read it again as soon as I finish writing this.
I believe I have made it perfectly clear that it is not overkill, but in fact completely necessary to have every.single. one of those books. So don't judge me.
Maybe I wasn't getting any practical advice from A Walk in the Woods, but I really needed to see if the book was as funny as I remembered. (It is.) And perhaps Zero Regrets (by my celebrity boyfriend, Apolo Ohno) isn't about the Appalachian Trail, per se. Okay, maybe it's not about the AT at all. For all I know, Apolo Ohno has never had a pair of hiking boots on in his life! But c'mon people! Eight Olympic medals. His book's gotta be good for something. Even if it's just pictures.
Of the books, two made the cut to bring along in the pack: The Thru-Hiker's Companion and The AT Guide. They are like Frommer's and Foddors for the woods. I wish I could bring them all, but my tent pile needs to be be significantly smaller. Only the most important and relevant books are allowed along for the trip.
Then again,maybe I should bring Fifty Shades of Gray.