Bill Bryson is one of my favorite authors. In fact, you could even say we are friends. It wouldn’t be true, of course, but I feel that if we ran into each other in an airport, we would stop in the middle of the walkway (annoying everyone) and finish each other’s sentences as we catch up on the uninteresting details of my life and the insanely funny and riveting details of his life. How fun would that be?
The point is that Bryson writes in such an endearing and transparent fashion that it is easy to assume that you really know him.
My all-time favorite book is “A Walk in the Woods” (HarperCollins, 1998), but he has also penned some insightful and entertaining travelogue-type books like “Notes from a Small Island” (William Morrow, 1996), in which he recounts his impressions while moving his family to England (with his English wife) to give them a kinder, gentler start in life. Then, point to counterpoint, they eventually move back to the States and he writes “I’m a Stranger Here Myself” (Broadway, 2000). And then – he moves back to England again. (I’ve kind of lost track of where he is now. He really should write me more often.)
Bryson’s charming wit is further demonstrated in other travel books about Australia and Europe – but his interests and curiosity don’t stop with globetrotting. He writes about science and history in “A Short History of Nearly Everything” (Broadway, 2003); he writes about the English language in “The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way” (William Morrow, 1991); and more recently he presents “At Home: A Short History of Private Life” (Doubleday, 2010) (see review below).
Bryson has accumulated numerous awards and accolades. Durham University in England, where he served as chancellor, renamed its library after him. His probing curiosity and charming pen seem to know no bounds.
I’m just saying … it’s only a matter of time before he tackles the New Age genre, and when he regresses to a past life, there I’ll be.
Sharon Lennox-Infante, a Los Altos resident, is contributing editor for Book Buzz.