Tag Archives: Bill Bryson

Happy New Year’s from Me and Bill Bryson

Yesterday felt like a glorious way to end 2011. There was amazing food with really good people, a beautiful brisk day in the city that I love, an afternoon stroll to a local bookstore, and party times to ring in the new year. Oh, and I crushed my brother at Words with Friends. WIN.

I finished Bill Bryson’s unbelievably hilarious book about walking the Appalachian Trail (A Walk in the Woods), and despite it having absolutely no bearing on the holiday, it felt strangely apropos. These are the two passages I dog-eared:

“The continents didn’t just move in and out from each other in some kind of grand slow-motion square dance but spun in lazy circles, changed orientation, went on cruises to the tropics and poles, made friends with smaller landmasses and brought them home. Florida once belonged to Africa. A corner of Staten Island is, geologically, part of Europe. The seaboard from New England up to Canada appears to have originated in Morocco. Parts of Greenland, Ireland, Scotland, and Scandinavia have the same rocks as the eastern United States–are, in effect, ruptured outposts of the Appalachians.”

It’s not the science that awes and amazes me, though it truly is awe-inspiring. It’s the reminder that no matter where we draw the arbitrary lines that divide us from them–and we are so good at drawing lines–the planet we all live on could not care less. Is there a greater argument for human commonality than the shared roots of the Eastern Seaboard and Morocco?

And then, in the last few pages, Bryson writes “I don’t recall a moment in my life when I was more acutely aware of how providence favored the land to which I was born.” Goddamn. Is that not, from structure to sentiment, a gorgeous sentence?

Related Post: Love letter to Chicago on our fifth anniversary.

Related Post: More sentences that took my breath away. Thanks Mary Karr!

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