After living in Britain for two decades, Bill Bryson recently moved back to the United States with his English wife and four children (he had read somewhere that nearly 3 million Americans believed they had been abducted by aliensas he later put it, "it was clear my people needed me"). They were greeted by a new and improved America that boasts microwave pancakes, twentyfourhour dentalfloss hotlines, and the staunch conviction that ice is not a luxury item.
Delivering the brilliant comic musings that are a Bryson hallmark, I'm a Stranger Here Myself recounts his sometimes disconcerting reunion with the land of his birth. The result is a book filled with hysterical scenes of one man's attempt to reacquaint himself with his own country, but it is also an extended if at times bemused love letter to the homeland he has returned to after twenty years away.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Every time Bill Bryson walks out the door, memorable travel literature threatens to break out. His previous excursion along the Appalachian Trail resulted in the sublime national bestseller A Walk in the Woods. In A Sunburned Country is his report on what he found in an entirely different place: Australia, the country that doubles as a continent, and a place with the friendliest inhabitants, the hottest, driest weather, and the most peculiar and lethal wildlife to be found on the planet. The result is a deliciously funny, factfilled, and adventurous performance by a writer who combines humor, wonder, and unflagging curiousity.
Despite the fact that Australia harbors more things that can kill you in extremely nasty ways than anywhere else, including sharks, crocodiles, snakes, even riptides and deserts, Bill Bryson adores the place, and he takes his readers on a rollicking ride far beyond that beaten tourist path. Wherever he goes he finds Australians who are cheerful, extroverted, and unfailingly obliging, and these beaming products of land with clean, safe cities, cold beer, and constant sunshine fill the pages of this wonderful book. Australia is an immense and fortunate land, and it has found in Bill Bryson its perfect guide.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
From one of the most beloved and bestselling authors in the English language, a vivid, nostalgic and utterly hilarious memoir of growing up in the middle of the United States in the middle of the last century. A book that delivers on the promise that it is “laughoutloud funny.”
Some say that the first hints that Bill Bryson was not of Planet Earth came from his discovery, at the age of six, of a woollen jersey of rare fineness. Across the mothholed chest was a golden thunderbolt. It may have looked like an old college football sweater, but young Bryson knew better. It was obviously the Sacred Jersey of Zap, and proved that he had been placed with this innocuous family in the middle of America to fly, become invisible, shoot guns out of people’s hands from a distance, and wear his underpants over his jeans in the manner of Superman.
Bill Bryson’s first travel book opened with the immortal line, “I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.” In this hilarious new memoir, he travels back to explore the kid he once was and the weird and wonderful world of 1950s America. He modestly claims that this is a book about not very much: about being small and getting much larger slowly. But for the rest of us, it is a laughoutloud book that will speak volumes – especially to anyone who has ever been young.
From the Hardcover edition.
“Here is a man who suffers so his readers can laugh.” — Daily Telegraph
Bill Bryson travels to Kenya in support of CARE International. All royalties and profits go to CARE International.
Bryson visits Kenya at the invitation of CARE International, the charity dedicated to eradicating poverty. Kenya is a land of contrasts, with famous game reserves and a vibrant culture. It also provides plenty to worry a traveller like Bill Bryson, fixated as he is on the dangers posed by snakes, insects and large predators. It is also a country with many serious problems: refugees, AIDS, drought, and grinding poverty. The resultant diary, though short in length, contains the trademark Bryson stamp of wry observation and curious insight.
One of the world’s most beloved and bestselling writers takes his ultimate journey into the most intriguing and intractable questions that science seeks to answer.
In A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson trekked the Appalachian Trail well, most of it. In In A Sunburned Country, he confronted some of the most lethal wildlife Australia has to offer. Now, in his biggest book, he confronts his greatest challenge: to understand and, if possible, answer the oldest, biggest questions we have posed about the universe and ourselves. Taking as territory everything from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization, Bryson seeks to understand how we got from there being nothing at all to there being us. To that end, he has attached himself to a host of the world’s most advanced (and often obsessed) archaeologists, anthropologists, and mathematicians, travelling to their offices, laboratories, and field camps. He has read (or tried to read) their books, pestered them with questions, apprenticed himself to their powerful minds. A Short History of Nearly Everything is the record of this quest, and it is a sometimes profound, sometimes funny, and always supremely clear and entertaining adventure in the realms of human knowledge, as only Bill Bryson can render it. Science has never been more involving or entertaining.
From the Hardcover edition.
One of the English language';s most skilled and beloved writers guides us all toward precise, mistake-free usage.
As usual Bill Bryson says it best: "English is a dazzlingly idiosyncratic tongue, full of quirks and irregularities that often seem willfully at odds with logic and common sense. This is a language where 'cleave'; can mean to cut in half or to hold two halves together; where the simple word 'set'; has 126 different meanings as a verb, 58 as a noun, and 10 as a participial adjective; where if you can run fast you are moving swiftly, but if you are stuck fast you are not moving at all; [and] where 'colonel,'; 'freight,'; 'once,'; and 'ache'; are strikingly at odds with their spellings." As a copy editor for the London Times in the early 1980s, Bill Bryson felt keenly the lack of an easy-to-consult, authoritative guide to avoiding the traps and snares in English, and so he brashly suggested to a publisher that he should write one. Surprisingly, the proposition was accepted, and for "a sum of money carefully gauged not to cause embarrassment or feelings of overworth," he proceeded to write that book-his first, inaugurating his stellar career.
Now, a decade and a half later, revised, updated, and thoroughly (but not overly) Americanized, it has become Bryson';s Dictionary of Troublesome Words, more than ever an essential guide to the wonderfully disordered thing that is the English language. With some one thousand entries, from "a, an" to zoom," that feature real-world examples of questionable usage from an international array of publications, and with a helpful glossary and guide to pronunciation, this precise, prescriptive, and-because it is written by Bill Bryson-often witty book belongs on the desk of every person who cares enough about the language not to maul or misuse or distort it.
From the Hardcover edition.
Durant son établissement en Nouvelle-Angleterre, après avoir vécu vingt ans en Angleterre, Bill Bryson se lance à la "redécouverte" de l'Amérique avec l'humour pour seule arme. Rien n'échappe à son sens de l'observation ni à son manque de sens pratique. Il lui faut guerroyer avec l'administration et les supermarchés, avec la publicité et les séries télé, avec l'informatique et le jardinage, avec les créatures de la forêt et son coiffeur, et même avec son épouse britannique, qui deviendra vite une Américaine accomplie.
« Jamais un bouquin ne m'a fait autant rire », affirme Robert Redford, qui en a fait son livre de chevet et vient de l'adapter à l'écran. Retour aux Etats-Unis, retour à la nature : Bill Bryson s'attaque à l'Appalachian Trail, un sentier qui serpente, sur 3500 kilomètres, du Maine à la Géorgie. Dans cette aventure qui mêle histoire naturelle et histoires drôles, il s'est choisi pour compagnon de marche son vieux copain d'école, Stephen Katz, l'un des personnages de Ma fabuleuse enfance dans l'Amérique des années 1950, que la nature intéresse beaucoup, beaucoup moins que X-Files. Le problème, c'est qu'en se promenant dans les bois on risque de croiser, comme dans la série de science-fiction, d'étranges créatures...
Posez une question, Bryson y répond dans ce livre qui conjugue avec bonheur science et sourire. Vous y apprendrez par quels hasards, traits de génie, intuitions, déductions, expérimentations, débats, les hommes en sont arrivés à connaître le monde tel qu'ils le connaissent aujourd'hui. Tout y est (ou presque) de l'histoire des sciences, de notre planète et de l'univers. Un merveilleux compagnon, dont la lecture devrait être recommandée à tous les collégiens... et à leurs parents ! Ce livre a reçu le prestigieux prix Aventis du meilleur livre de vulgarisation scientifique et l'Union européeenne lui a décerné le prix Descartes pour la communication scientifique.
Ayant découvert que ce qui s'était passé dans le monde depuis deux siècles s'était retrouvé sous forme d'objets et de rituels quotidiens dans notre intérieur, le plus drôle des écrivains voyageurs américains fait le tour de sa maison pour nous raconter cette grande aventure du génie humain - de l'invention de la tapette à souris à la conception de la tour Eiffel, de la saga des acariens à celle des milliardaires. Une histoire de l'envers du décor.
Rendu célèbre par ses récits de voyage et son humour, l'Américain Bill Bryson entreprend dans ce nouveau livre le plus extraordinaire des périples : surpris d'apprendre qu'on pourrait acheter tous les composants chimiques de notre organisme pour cinq dollars dans une quincaillerie, il décide d'explorer le corps humain et d'en percer les secrets.
Entre récit de voyage, peinture de société et expériences loufoques, cet impertinent et savoureux portrait de l'Angleterre des années 1990 (épicé de flash-backs dans les années 1970) a consacré Bill Bryson comme le plus british des écrivains américains.
Lorsque Bill Bryson naît en 1951 à Des Moines, capitale de l'Iowa, 90 pour 100 des Américains possèdent déjà un réfrigérateur. Au cours de cette décennie heureuse, il leur sera répété que tout ou presque est bon pour la santé, dont la cigarette, le DTT et les retombées radioactives. Tout en racontant son enfance, Bryson nous régale d'une chronique des années 1950 aussi drôle que tendre. Gags à chaque page sur le quotidien d'un petit garçon de la middle class dans le Middle West, mais par-delà le fou rire, ce portrait d'une superpuissance trop sûre d'elle nous fait méditer sur le déclin de l'empire américain.
Après avoir brossé avec humour tant de portraits d'Américains moyens, Bill Bryson s'attaque à l'un des plus grands génies de la planète, pour prendre la mesure de ce que les archives nous apprennent réellement sur William Shakespeare. Celui-ci n'a laissé en effet que quatorze mots de sa main, mais combien de milliards d'autres écrits sur lui, qui l'on transformé en obsession d'universitaires et d'excentriques aveuglés par les idées reçues ! En campant avec truculence le décor de l'Angleterre de la fin du XVIe siècle dans un livre qui fait de l'érudition un régal. Bryson nous ramène tout simplement à l'homme qu'a pu être le dramaturge, et l'on finit par en apprendre beaucoup sur un personnage aussi mystérieux. Surtout, notre écrivain-voyageur de l'Iowa nous transporte au coeur d'une oeuvre universelle qui demeure la plus belle preuve de l'existence de William Shakespeare.
L'auteur américain de tant de chroniques drôlissimes sur ses compatriotes d'aujourd'hui s'intéresse à ceux du passé dans ce livre pour lequel il a été élu outre-Manche meilleur auteur de non-fiction : avec pour point de départ la traversée de l'Atlantique par Lindbergh, le 21 mai 1927, et au travers d'innombrables destins personnels, son récit est tout à la fois un portrait loufoque sur cinq mois des États-Unis d'avant la Grande Dépression, une collection d'événements et d'inventions ayant bouleversé le monde (cinéma parlant, télévision, etc.), ainsi qu'une évocation de problématiques toujours très actuelles (climat et bulles spéculatives, présidents étranges et tueurs fous...).
In the company of his friend Stephen Katz (last seen in the bestselling Neither Here nor There), Bill Bryson set off to hike the Appalachian Trail, the longest continuous footpath in the world. Ahead lay almost 2,200 miles of remote mountain wilderness filled with bears, moose, bobcats, rattlesnakes, poisonous plants, disease-bearing tics, the occasional chuckling murderer and - perhaps most alarming of all - people whose favourite pastime is discussing the relative merits of the external-frame backpack.Facing savage weather, merciless insects, unreliable maps and a fickle companion whose profoundest wish was to go to a motel and watch The X-Files, Bryson gamely struggled through the wilderness to achieve a lifetime's ambition - not to die outdoors.
It is the driest, flattest, hottest, most desiccated, infertile and climatically aggressive of all the inhabited continents and still Australia teems with life - a large portion of it quite deadly. In fact, Australia has more things that can kill you in a very nasty way than anywhere else.Ignoring such dangers - and yet curiously obsessed by them - Bill Bryson journeyed to Australia and promptly fell in love with the country. And who can blame him? The people are cheerful, extrovert, quick-witted and unfailingly obliging: their cities are safe and clean and nearly always built on water; the food is excellent; the beer is cold and the sun nearly always shines. Life doesn't get much better than this...
'I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to'And, as soon as Bill Bryson was old enough, he left. Des Moines couldn't hold him, but it did lure him back. After ten years in England, he returned to the land of his youth, and drove almost 14,000 miles in search of a mythical small town called Amalgam, the kind of trim and sunny place where the films of his youth were set. Instead, his search led him to Anywhere, USA; a lookalike strip of gas stations, motels and hamburger outlets populated by lookalike people with a penchant for synthetic fibres. He discovered a continent that was doubly lost; lost to itself because blighted by greed, pollution, mobile homes and television; lost to him because he had become a stranger in his own land.Bryson's acclaimed first success, The Lost Continent is a classic of travel literature - hilariously, stomach-achingly, funny, yet tinged with heartache - and the book that first staked Bill Bryson's claim as the most beloved writer of his generation.
Bill Bryson's first travel book, The Lost Continent, was unanimously acclaimed as one of the funniest books in years. In Neither Here nor There he brings his unique brand of humour to bear on Europe as he shoulders his backback, keeps a tight hold on his wallet, and journeys from Hammerfest, the northernmost town on the continent, to Istanbul on the cusp of Asia. Fluent in, oh, at least one language, he retraces his travels as a student twenty years before.Whether braving the homicidal motorists of Paris, being robbed by gypsies in Florence, attempting not to order tripe and eyeballs in a German restaurant or window-shopping in the sex shops of the Reeperbahn, Bryson takes in the sights, dissects the culture and illuminates each place and person with his hilariously caustic observations. He even goes to Liechtenstein.
In 1995, before leaving his much-loved home in North Yorkshire to move back to the States for a few years with his family, Bill Bryson insisted on taking one last trip around Britain, a sort of valedictory tour of the green and kindly island that had so long been his home. His aim was to take stock of the nation's public face and private parts (as it were), and to analyse what precisely it was he loved so much about a country that had produced Marmite; a military hero whose dying wish was to be kissed by a fellow named Hardy; place names like Farleigh Wallop, Titsey and Shellow Bowells; people who said 'Mustn't grumble', and 'Ooh lovely' at the sight of a cup of tea and a plate of biscuits; and Gardeners' Question Time. Notes from a Small Island was a huge number-one bestseller when it was first published, and has become the nation's most loved book about Britain, going on to sell over two million copies.
Bill Bryson goes to Kenya at the invitation of CARE International, the charity dedicated to working with local communities to eradicate poverty around the world. Kenya, generally regarded as the cradle of humankind, is a land of stunning landscapes, famous game reserves, and a vibrant culture, but it also has many serious problems, including refugees, AIDS, drought and grinding poverty. It also provides plenty to worry a nervous traveller like Bill Bryson: hair-raising rides in light aircraft, tropical diseases, snakes, insects and large predators.Bryson casts his inimitable eye on a continent new to him, and the resultant diary, though short in length, contains all his trademark laugh-out-loud wit, wry observation and curious insight. All the author's royalties from this book, as well as all profits, will go to CARE International.
Bill Bryson's first travel book opened with the immortal line, 'I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.' In this deeply funny and personal memoir, he travels back in time to explore the ordinary kid he once was, in the curious world of 1950s Middle America. It was a happy time, when almost everything was good for you, including DDT, cigarettes and nuclear fallout. This is a book about one boy's growing up. But in Bryson's hands, it becomes everyone's story, one that will speak volumes - especially to anyone who has ever been young.
Edited and introduced by Bill Bryson, with contributions from Richard Dawkins, Margaret Atwood, Richard Holmes, Martin Rees, Richard Fortey, Steve Jones, James Gleick and Neal Stephenson amongst others, this book tells the story of science and the Royal Society, from 1660 to the present.
On a damp weeknight in November, 350 years ago, a dozen or so men gathered at Gresham College in London. A twenty-eight year old - and not widely famous - Christopher Wren was giving a lecture on astronomy. As his audience listened to him speak, they decided that it would be a good idea to create a Society to promote the accumulation of useful knowledge. With that, the Royal Society was born.
Since its birth, the Royal Society has pioneered scientific exploration and discovery. Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Robert Hooke, Robert Boyle, Joseph Banks, Humphry Davy, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, John Locke, Alexander Fleming - all were fellows. Bill Bryson's favourite fellow was Reverend Thomas Bayes, a brilliant mathematician who devised Bayes' theorem. Its complexity meant that it had little practical use in Bayes' own lifetime, but today his theorem is used for weather forecasting, astrophysics and stock market analysis. A milestone in mathematical history, it only exists because the Royal Society decided to preserve it - just in case.
The Royal Society continues to do today what it set out to do all those years ago. Its members have split the atom, discovered the double helix, the electron, the computer and the World Wide Web. Truly international in its outlook, it has created modern science. 'Seeing Further' celebrates its momentous history and achievements, bringing together the very best of science writing. Filled with illustrations of treasures from the Society's archives, this is a unique, ground-breaking and beautiful volume, and a suitable reflection of the immense achievements of science.
International bestseller Bill Bryson brings us this brilliantly readable biography of the world's greatest playwright, William Shakespeare.
Join Bill as he takes you on a journey through Elizabethan England, tackling the myths, half-truths and downright lies to make sense of the man behind the masterpieces.
Revel in this glorious celebration of the life of Shakespeare from the much-loved author of 'A Short History of Nearly Everything' and 'Notes from a Small Island'.