Check It Out: The Stranger In The Woods by Michael Finkel

Apr 9, 2019

This is Jessi Wakefield with the Sioux City Public Library and you’re listening to Check It Out. Today I would like to suggest the title The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit by Michael Finkel.

Finkel's The Stranger in the Woods is the mesmerizing true account of Christopher Knight, a 20-year-old man who in 1986 somewhat impulsively walked into the woods of north Maine and lived his life in complete solitude for the next 27 years. He made camp in a geographically hidden spot near a place called North Pond and survived by repeatedly burglarizing the surrounding cabins, most of which were uninhabited for much of the year. There is a bit of ethical and moral grey area in the reader’s mind whether or not it was burglarizing, or foraging. But to Knight, he would feel guilt every single time he entered a home and took what he needed. He was never violent, but he knew it was wrong. He needed what they had. Over the 27 years, there were at least a thousand break ins.  Astonishingly, he wasn’t caught until 2013 when a particularly motivated law enforcer finally caught him after two decades of trying.  Up until then had become a local legend dubbed the North Pond Hermit.

In Finkel’s work, Knight comes off as highly intelligent and articulate with a dry sense of humor and a great love for reading, and meditating. But he wouldn’t be so pretentious as to call it meditating. He just liked sitting and thinking. He never felt lonely and even said, “Solitude increased my perception…My desires dropped away. I didn’t long for anything. I didn’t even have a name. To put it romantically, I was completely free.”

I hope you come visit us at the Sioux City Public Library and check out The Stranger in the Woods along with other survivalist nonfiction books.

Support for Check It Out comes from Avery Brothers.