2,100 miles of strenuous hiking through the American wilderness, in the company of the sort of man who “might have friends named Julio and Mr Big”. Sound like fun?

In this strange-enough-to-be-fiction account, Bryson shares the details of his abortive attempt to trek the Appalachian Trail with his old high-school friend Stephen Katz. Battling the early onset of rheumatism, the threat of black bears (as opposed to grizzlies) and being one step ahead of a possible murderer, Bryson and Katz stumble blindly through the wilderness, give up a few times and eventually admit defeat after a series of hilarious incidents along the way.

With his usual scintillating humour and razor-sharp wit, Bryson manages to turn what might be an incredibly leaden, repetitive novel into a winding, varied tale of unassailable hardship. He is helped along the way by a series of excellent sketches which begin each chapter.

A Walk In the Woods has been recently brought back into prominence with a film starring Robert Redford, Nick Nolte and Emma Thompson. I don’t doubt that it will be as excellent as its precursor.