Not your college professor: Learning nearly everything with Bill Bryson

A number of years ago, I discovered author Bill Bryson.  At the time, I was interested in the history of languages and reading everything I could find about lost languages and etymology.  During this time, I came across Bill Bryson’s book, The Mother Tongue: English and How it Got that Way.

I learned many fascinating things about the English language and its many cousins in the language family tree.  But what I enjoyed most of all was Bryson’s style of writing.  It’s fast paced and filled with humorous anecdotes while being chocked full of fascinating information, but have no fear; these are not your college professor’s dull textbooks.  Bryson’s books are as entertaining as they are informative.

Bryson’s non-fiction books cover just about every topic you can imagine.  (See his book, A Short History of Nearly Everything.)  In other books, he has tackled the subjects of Shakespeare, the human body, the history of England, the history of American pop culture, Christmas, as well as his personal experience hiking the Appalachian Trail.

My favorite Bill Bryson book is At Home: A Short History of Private Life, where he delves into every subject that you can find under a house roof.  Have you ever wondered how a fork became the four-pronged utensil it is today?  When did rooms with separate functions (bedroom, dining room, living room, etc.) start to appear in homes?  What about the furniture you find in those rooms?  When did windows first appear in homes?  How did they come up with the modern stair design? 

Have you ever considered how people got and keep ice before the modern refrigerator/freezer? How did someone in England get a block of ice in the summer before the existence of electricity?  The story about the earliest ice houses will fascinate you. 

If you haven’t tried a book by Bill Bryson, I highly recommend you do.  You will not be disappointed.  

Many of Bryson’s books are available in book, ebook, and eAudiobook form, through Harris County Public Library.  Visit your library or Libby app and check out these Bill Bryson books.

The Body

At Home

A Short History of Nearly Everything

The Road to Little Dribbling

A Walk in the Woods

One Summer