Bill Bryson Popular Books

Bill Bryson Biography & Facts

William McGuire Bryson (; born 8 December 1951) is an American–British journalist and author. Bryson has written a number of nonfiction books on topics including travel, the English language, and science. Born in the United States, he has been a resident of Britain for most of his adult life, returning to the U.S. between 1995 and 2003, and holds dual American and British citizenship. He served as the chancellor of Durham University from 2005 to 2011.In 1995, while in the United Kingdom, Bryson authored Notes from a Small Island, an exploration of Britain. In 2003, he authored A Short History of Nearly Everything. In October 2020, he announced that he had retired from writing books. In 2022, he recorded an audiobook for Audible, The Secret History of Christmas. He has sold over 16 million books worldwide. Early life and education Bryson was born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa, the son of Bill Bryson Sr., a sports journalist who worked for 50 years at the Des Moines Register, and Agnes Mary (née McGuire), the home furnishings editor at the same newspaper. His mother was of Irish descent. He had an older brother, Michael (1942–2012), and a sister, Mary Jane Elizabeth. In 2006, Bryson published The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, a humorous account of his childhood years in Des Moines. In 2006 Frank Cownie, the mayor of Des Moines, awarded Bryson the key to the city and announced that 21 October 2006 would be "Bill Bryson, The Thunderbolt Kid, Day."Bryson attended Drake University for two years before dropping out in 1972, deciding instead to backpack around Europe for four months. He returned to Europe the following year with a high school friend, Matt Angerer (the pseudonymous Stephen Katz). Bryson wrote about some of his experiences from the trip in his book Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe. Career Bryson first visited Great Britain in 1973 during his tour of Europe and decided to stay after securing a job working in a psychiatric hospital, the now-defunct Holloway Sanatorium in Virginia Water, Surrey. He met a nurse there, Cynthia Billen, whom he married in 1975. They moved to Bryson's hometown of Des Moines, Iowa, in 1975 so Bryson could complete his degree at Drake University. In 1977 they settled in Britain.He worked as a journalist, first for the Bournemouth Evening Echo, eventually becoming chief copy editor of the business section of The Times and deputy national news editor of the business section of The Independent. The Brysons moved around the United Kingdom, living in Virginia Water (Surrey), Purewell (Dorset), Burton (Dorset), Kirkby Malham, and the Old Rectory in Wramplingham, Norfolk (2003–2013). They currently live in rural Hampshire and maintain a small flat in South Kensington, London. From 1995 to 2003 they lived in Hanover, New Hampshire.Although able to apply for British citizenship, Bryson said in 2010 that he had declined a citizenship test, declaring himself "too cowardly" to take it. However, in 2014, he said that he was preparing to take it and in the prologue to his 2015 book The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes From a Small Island he describes doing so, in Eastleigh. His citizenship ceremony took place in Winchester and he now holds dual citizenship. Writings While living in the U.S. in the 1990s, Bryson wrote a column for a British newspaper for several years, reflecting on humorous aspects of his repatriation in the United States. These columns were selected and adapted to become his book I'm a Stranger Here Myself, alternatively titled Notes from a Big Country in Britain, Canada, and Australia. During his time in the US, Bryson decided to walk the Appalachian Trail with his friend Stephen Katz (a pseudonym), about which he wrote the book A Walk in the Woods. In the 2015 film adaptation of A Walk in the Woods, Bryson is portrayed by Academy Award winner Robert Redford, and Katz by Nick Nolte.In 2003, in conjunction with World Book Day, British voters chose Bryson's book Notes from a Small Island as that which best summed up British identity and the state of the nation. Also in 2003, he was appointed a Commissioner for English Heritage. His popular science book, the 500-page A Short History of Nearly Everything, explores not only the histories and current statuses of the sciences, but also their humble and often humorous beginnings. Although one "top scientist" is alleged to have jokingly described the book as "annoyingly free of mistakes," Bryson himself makes no such claim, and a list of some of its reported errors is available online.In November 2006, Bryson interviewed then British prime minister Tony Blair on the state of science and education.Bryson also wrote two popular works on the history of the English language, The Mother Tongue and Made in America—and, more recently, an update of his guide to usage, Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words (first published as The Penguin Dictionary of Troublesome Words in 1983). He also released a podcast, Bill Bryson's Appliance of Science, in 2017. Litigation In 2012, Bryson sued his agent, Jed Mattes Inc., in New York County Supreme Court, claiming it had "failed to perform some of the most fundamental duties of an agent." The case was settled out of court, with part of the settlement being that Bryson may not discuss it. In 2013, Bryson claimed copyright on an interview he had given nearly 20 years previously, after the interviewer republished it as an 8000-word e-book. Amazon removed the e-book from publication. Awards, positions and honours In 2004, he won the Aventis Prize for best general science book that year, with A Short History of Nearly Everything. In 2005, the book won the European Union's Descartes Prize for science communication. In 2005, he received the President's Award from the Royal Society of Chemistry for advancing the cause of the chemical sciences. In 2007, he won the Bradford Washburn Award, from the Museum of Science in Boston, for contributions to the popularization of science. In 2005, Bryson was appointed chancellor of Durham University, succeeding the late Sir Peter Ustinov. He had praised Durham as "a perfect little city" in Notes from a Small Island. With the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Bill Bryson Prize for Science Communication was established in 2005. The competition engages students from around the world in explaining science to non-experts. As part of its 350th anniversary celebrations in 2010 the Royal Society commissioned Bryson to edit a collection of essays by scientists and science writers about the history of science and the Royal Society over the previous three and a half centuries entitled Seeing Further.He was made an honorary Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his contribution to literature on 13 December 2006. In 2007, he was awarded the James Joyce Award by the Literary and Historical Society of University College Dublin. After he received British citizenship, his OBE was made substantive. In M.... Discover the Bill Bryson popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Bill Bryson books.

Best Seller Bill Bryson Books of 2023

  • The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid synopsis, comments

    The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

    Bill Bryson

    From one of the world's most beloved writers and New York Times bestselling author of A Walk in the Woods and The Body, a vivid, nostalgic, and utterly hilarious memoir of gro...

  • Uneasy Rider synopsis, comments

    Uneasy Rider

    Mike Carter

    A broken heart and a moment of drunken bravado inspires middleaged, and typically rather cautious, journalist Mike Carter to take off on a lifechanging six month motorcycle trip ar...

  • As I Was Saying . . . synopsis, comments

    As I Was Saying . . .

    Jeremy Clarkson

    As I Was Saying... is the seventh book in Jeremy Clarkson's bestselling The World According to Clarkson series.Crikey, the world according to Clarkson's been a funny old place of l...

  • The Road to Little Dribbling synopsis, comments

    The Road to Little Dribbling

    Bill Bryson

    A loving and hilariousif occasionally spikyvalentine to Bill Bryson’s adopted country, Great Britain. Prepare for total joy and multiple episodes of unseemly laughter.Twenty y...

  • A Walk in the Woods synopsis, comments

    A Walk in the Woods

    Bill Bryson

    NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER  The classic chronicle of a “terribly misguided and terribly funny” (The Washington Post) hike of the Appalachian Trail, from the author of...

  • Buzz synopsis, comments


    Thor Hanson

    As seen on PBS's American Spring LIVE, the awardwinning author of The Triumph of Seeds and Feathers presents a natural and cultural history of bees: the buzzing wee beasties that m...

  • Plain Words synopsis, comments

    Plain Words

    Rebecca Gowers & Ernest Gowers

    'Be short, be simple, be human.'When Sir Ernest Gowers first wrote Plain Words, it was intended simply as a guide to the proper use of English for the Civil Service. Within a year,...

  • For Crying Out Loud synopsis, comments

    For Crying Out Loud

    Jeremy Clarkson

    Jeremy Clarkson, shares his opinions on just about everything in For Crying Out Loud.The publication of The World According to Clarkson in 2004 launched a multimillion copy bestsel...

  • Rough Beauty synopsis, comments

    Rough Beauty

    Karen Auvinen

    In the bestselling tradition of Cheryl Strayed’s Wild and Helen MacDonald’s H Is for Hawk, Karen Auvinen, an awardwinning poet, ventures into the wilderness to seek answers to life...

  • An Epidemic of Absence synopsis, comments

    An Epidemic of Absence

    Moises Velasquez-Manoff

    A brilliant, groundbreaking report on the dramatic rise of allergic and autoimmune disease, and the controversial therapies scientists are developing to correct these disorders.Fro...

  • Walking to Samarkand synopsis, comments

    Walking to Samarkand

    Bernard Ollivier & Dan Golembeski

    Acclaimed journalist Bernard Ollivier continues his epic journey across Persia and Central Asia as he walks the length of the Great Silk Road.   Walking to Samarkand ...

  • Ancient Worlds synopsis, comments

    Ancient Worlds

    Richard Miles

    Across the Middle East, the Mediterranean and the Nile Delta, aweinspiring, monstrous ruins are scattered across the landscape vast palaces, temples, fortresses, shattered statues...

  • Dead Famous synopsis, comments

    Dead Famous

    Ben Elton

    "Wry, fast and fiendishly clever" (The Times)One house. Ten contestants. Thirty cameras. Forty microphones.Yet again the public gorges its voyeuristic appetite as another group of ...

  • Mesopotamia synopsis, comments


    Gwendolyn Leick

    Situated in an area roughly corresponding to presentday Iraq, Mesopotamia is one of the great, ancient civilizations, though it is still relatively unknown. Yet, over 7,000 years a...

  • Agricola and Germania synopsis, comments

    Agricola and Germania


    The Agricola is both a portrait of Julius Agricola the most famous governor of Roman Britain and Tacitus' wellloved and respected fatherinlaw and the first detailed account of Br...

  • Butts synopsis, comments


    Heather Radke

    “Winning, cheeky, and illuminating….What appears initially as a folly with a lookatthis cover and title becomes, thanks to Radke’s intelligence and curiosity, something much meatie...

  • Kublai Khan synopsis, comments

    Kublai Khan

    John Man

    In Xanadu did Kubla KhanA stately pleasure dome decreeKublai Khan lives on in the popular imagination thanks to these two lines of poetry by Coleridge. But the true story behind th...

  • The Complete Works synopsis, comments

    The Complete Works

    John Muir

    This exceptional collection is comprised ofJohn Muir's travel memoirs, wilderness essays, environmental studies and personal letters. Contents: Books Picturesque California The...

  • The Later Roman Empire synopsis, comments

    The Later Roman Empire

    Ammianus Marcellinus

    Ammianus Marcellinus was the last great Roman historian, and his writings rank alongside those of Livy and Tacitus. The Later Roman Empire chronicles a period of twentyfive years d...

  • The Final Frontiersman synopsis, comments

    The Final Frontiersman

    James Campbell

    The inspiration for The Last Alaskansthe hit documentary series now on the Discovery+James Campbell’s inimitable insider account of a family’s nomadic life in the unshaped Arctic w...

  • In a Sunburned Country synopsis, comments

    In a Sunburned Country

    Bill Bryson

    Every time Bill Bryson walks out the door, memorable travel literature threatens to break out. This time in Australia.His previous excursion along the Appalachian Trail resulted in...

  • Life on the Mississippi synopsis, comments

    Life on the Mississippi

    Rinker Buck

    NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER “Audacious…Life on the Mississippi sparkles.” The Wall Street Journal “A rich mix of history, reporting, and personal introspection.” St. Louis PostDisp...

  • And Another Thing synopsis, comments

    And Another Thing

    Jeremy Clarkson

    In And Another Thing... the outspoken and outrageous presenter Jeremy Clarkson, shares his opinions on just about everything.Jeremy Clarkson finds the world such a perplexing place...

  • A Short History of Nearly Everything synopsis, comments

    A Short History of Nearly Everything

    Bill Bryson

    One of the world’s most beloved writers and New York Times bestselling author of A Walk in the Woods and The Body takes his ultimate journeyinto the most intriguing and intrac...

  • Neither here nor there synopsis, comments

    Neither here nor there

    Bill Bryson

    In the early seventies, Bill Bryson backpacked across Europein search of enlightenment, beer, and women. He was accompanied by an unforgettable sidekick named Stephen Katz (who wil...

  • One Summer synopsis, comments

    One Summer

    Bill Bryson

    A Chicago Tribune Noteworthy BookA GoodReads Reader's ChoiceIn One Summer Bill Bryson, one of our greatest and most beloved nonfiction writers, transports readers on a journey back...

  • Good for Nothing synopsis, comments

    Good for Nothing

    Brandon Graham

    "Enchanted by Good For Nothing..." Stephen Fry "This book could be the lovechild of Bill Bryson and Martin Amis.... But at its heart is a very serious point. It is about the tsunam...

  • At Home synopsis, comments

    At Home

    Bill Bryson

    In these pages, the beloved Bill Bryson gives us a fascinating history of the modern home, taking us on a roombyroom tour through his own house and using each room to explore the v...

  • The Rise of the Roman Empire synopsis, comments

    The Rise of the Roman Empire

    Polybius & Ian Scott-Kilvert

    The Greek statesman Polybius (c.200–118 BC) wrote his account of the relentless growth of the Roman Empire in order to help his fellow countrymen understand how their world came to...

  • Daft Wee Stories synopsis, comments

    Daft Wee Stories


    DAFT WEE STORIES is Limmy’s first book.It is a collection of stories.There are short stories. There are longer stories. There are stupid stories. There are thoughtful stories. Ther...

  • Mobituaries synopsis, comments


    Mo Rocca

    From beloved CBS Sunday Morning correspondent and humorist Mo Rocca, a rigorously researched, “funny and smart” (Jon Stewart) book that celebrates the dead people who have long fas...

  • The Civil Wars synopsis, comments

    The Civil Wars

    Appian & John Carter

    Taken from Appian's Roman History, the five books collected here form the sole surviving continuous historical narrative of the era between 13335 BC a time of anarchy and instabil...

  • The Body synopsis, comments

    The Body

    Bill Bryson

    NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER   A mustread owner’s manual for every body. Take a headtotoe tour of the marvel that is the human body in this “delightful, anecdotepropelled re...

  • The Oregon Trail synopsis, comments

    The Oregon Trail

    Rinker Buck

    #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER #1 Indie Next Pick Winner of the PEN New England Award“Enchanting…A book filled with so much love…Long before Oregon, Rinker Buck has convinced us th...

  • Icons of England synopsis, comments

    Icons of England

    Bill Bryson

    This celebration of the English countryside does not only focus on the rolling green landscapes and magnificent monuments that set England apart from the rest of the world. Many of...

  • Lives of the Later Caesars synopsis, comments

    Lives of the Later Caesars

    Anthony Birley

    One of the most controversial of all works to survive from ancient Rome, the Augustan History is our main source of information about the Roman emperors from 117 to 284 AD. Written...