I've fallen in love. Yes, there's a certain someone out there who makes me see things in new ways, makes me reflect on old things in different ways and makes me laugh out loud when I'm feeling down.
That certain someone is Bill Bryson and man, oh man, can he write. I just finished Shakespeare, which I highly recommend. It's a page-turner that explores what's known and what isn't about the Bard of Avon. And, it does so in a lively, informative and, yes, funny way.
Bryson scoots around England in search of the elusive playwright and, in the process, debunks various theories that Shakespeare was, in fact, King James I, Francis Bacon and god knows how many other pretenders. A surprisingly large number of otherwise intelligent people believe Shakespeare couldn't have had the depth, breadth, education and experience to have written on so many different and diverse subjects. But, Bryson shows that he could. And he did.
Bryson also reveals the amazing number of everyday words that Will brought to the modern English language (some 2,035 words were, in fact, first used by Shakespeare). These include: antipathy, critical, dwindle, leapfrog and zany, to name just a few. And, how about this for inventing phrases? The bard first coined: "one fell swoop," "vanish into thin air," "play fast and loose" and "be in a pickle." The latter two have certainly found their way into our media of late, no?
I love reading books that provide additional perspective on the crazy world in which we live. I've also read Bryson's Under a Sunburnt Sky, which is must reading for anyone interested in Australia. And, I'm devouring A Walk in the Woods, which is de rigueur material for anyone who has ever climbed, hiked or even camped out. It's so funny that I've often laughed out loud at certain passages, engendering disdainful sneers from my fellow NJ Transit riders.
Looking for an ideal stocking stuffer for that certain someone (even if that certain someone is you)? Then, by all means pick up something, anything by Bill Bryson. But, remember, I found him first. "Bryson, oh Bryson, wherefore art thou Bryson?"