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“I really enjoy going to a library and spending the day doing research – to me that is the most pleasurable part of writing the science book.”

Bill Bryson

“You can be a scientist and believe in god: the two can go hand in hand.”

Bill Bryson

“It’s hard not to be kind of pessimistic about human beings generally, because we do tend to mess things up. If you just look at the history of extinctions, we’ve killed off an awful lot of animals – and I don’t think we’re doing a very good job of looking after the planet.”

Bill Bryson

“Not writing the same kind of book over and over again is to me the real pleasure of what I do.”

Bill Bryson

“Being a pessimist is just such a gloomy way of looking at things, so I have to hope for the best – life wouldn’t be worth living if we didn’t have hope. And I also do think that human beings often do do wonderful, correct, brilliant things. So, on balance, I’d like to be optimistic about the future.”

Bill Bryson

“Britain still has the most reliably beautiful countryside of anywhere in the world. I would hate to be part of the generation that allowed that to be lost.”

Bill Bryson

“You may find that your parents are the most delightful people, but you don’t want to live with them.”

Bill Bryson

“Entirely incidentally, a little-known fact about Shakespeare is that his father moved to Stratford-upon-Avon from a nearby village shortly before his son’s birth. Had he not done so, the Bard of Avon would instead be known as the rather less ringing Bard of Snitterfield.”

Bill Bryson

“Our instinct may be to see the impossibility of tracking everything down as frustrating, dispiriting, perhaps even appalling, but it can just as well be viewed as almost unbearably exciting. We live on a planet that has a more or less infinite capacity to surprise. What reasoning person could possibly want it any other way?”

Bill Bryson

“Woods are not like other spaces. To begin with, they are cubic. Their trees surround you, loom over you, press in from all sides. Woods choke off views & leave you muddled & without bearings. They make you feel small & confused & vulnerable, like a small child lost in a crowd of strange legs. Stand in a desert or prairie & you know you are in a big space. Stand in the woods and you only sense it. They are vast, featureless nowhere. And they are alive.”

Bill Bryson

“Everywhere throughout New England you find old, tumbledown field walls, often in the middle of the deepest, most settled- looking woods- a reminder of just how swiftly nature reclaims the land in America.”

Bill Bryson

“But I got a great deal else from the experience. I learned to pitch a tent and sleep beneath the stars. For a brief, proud period I was slender and fit. I gained a profound respect for the wilderness and nature and the benign dark power of woods. I understand now, in a way I never did before, the colossal scale of the world. I found patience and fortitude that I didn’t know I had. I discovered an America that millions of people scarcely know exists. I made a friend. I came home.”

Bill Bryson

“On the dashboard of our family car is a shallow indentation about the size of a paperback book. If you are looking for somewhere to put your sunglasses or spare change, it is the obvious place, and it works extremely well, I must say, so long as the car is not actually moving. However, as soon as you put the car in motion … everything slides off … It can hold nothing that has not been nailed to it. So I ask you: what then is it for?”

Bill Bryson

“I come Des Moines. Somebody had to.”

Bill Bryson

“Germans are flummoxed by humor, the Swiss have no concept of fun, the Spanish think there is nothing at all ridiculous about eating dinner at midnight, and the Italians should never, ever have been let in on the invention of the motor car.”

Bill Bryson

“Isn´t it strange how wealth is always wasted on the rich?”

Bill Bryson

“You don’t have to know anything about baseball to respond to Babe Ruth because he’s just this magnificent human being. And a really good story because he was this kid who grew up essentially as an orphan, you know, had a tough life, and then he became the most successful baseball player ever. But he was also a really good guy.”

Bill Bryson

“Before, prior to. There is no difference between these two except length and a certain affectedness on the part of ‘prior to.’ To paraphrase Bernstein, if you would use ‘posterior to’ instead of ‘after,’ then by all means use ‘prior to’ instead of ‘before.”

Bill Bryson

“In the morning I awoke early and experienced that sinking sensation that overcomes you when you first open your eyes and realize that instead of a normal day ahead of you, with its scatterings of simple gratifications, you are going to have a day without even the tiniest of pleasures; you are going to drive across Ohio.”

Bill Bryson

“When you sit in a chair, you are not actually sitting there, but levitating above it at a height of one angstrom (a hundred millionth of a centimetre), your electrons and its electrons implacably opposed to any closer intimacy.”

Bill Bryson