The beauty of Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods is that the reader does not need to be a hiker in order to appreciate the trivia and the author’s recollections of what it’s like to hike the Appalachian Trail. It’s a chocful of information about evolution, geography and a smattering of interesting characters that one could only find along the tracks of a 2000-mile trail. Yet on top of it all are Bryson’s (and his companion’s) often hilarious and quotable thoughts and observations. Here are a few quotes:

“All I know is that from time to time I end up a long way from where I want to be. But it makes life interesting, you know. I’ve met a lot of nice people, had a lot of free meals.”

“Presumably, a confused person would be too addled to recognize that he was confused. Ergo, if you know that you are not confused then you are not confused. Unless, it suddenly occurred to me–and here was an arresting notion–unless persuading yourself that you are not confused is merely a cruel, early symptom of confusion. Or even an advanced symptom. Who could tell? For all I know I could be stumbling into some kind of helpless preconfusional state characterised by the fear on the part of the sufferer that he may be stumbling into some kind of helpless preconfusional state.”

“That’s the trouble with losing your mind; by the time it’s gone, it’s too late to get it back.”

“…looks like some droll evolutionary joke.”

“I don’t know why they couldn’t have put some crocodiles in here and made a real adventure of it.”