19 Bill Bryson Books to Add to Your Reading List

If you're a fan of witty and humorous non-fiction writing, then you'll want to check out the work of Bill Bryson. Bryson has penned 19 books over his career, and each one is packed with anecdotes and observations that will have you laughing out loud.

Whether he's exploring his native America or taking on new adventures around the world, Bryson's writing is always entertaining.

If you're looking for a good read that will make you think and laugh at the same time, be sure to check out one of Bill Bryson's books.

Books by Bill Bryson

1. The Palace under the Alps and Over 200 Other Unusual, Unspoiled, and Infrequently Visited Spots in 16 European Countries

The Palace under the Alps

Published: 1985

Pages: 256

In his first travel book, Bryson recounts his journey across Europe, searching for unusual, unspoiled, and infrequently visited spots. His odyssey takes him to 16 countries, including France, Spain, Italy, and Switzerland.

Along the way, he discovers a wealth of hidden treasures, from an abandoned palace in the Swiss Alps to a medieval walled city in Italy.

Bryson's account is both witty and informative, providing readers with a unique perspective on some of Europe's most beloved destinations.

2. The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America

The Lost Continent

Published: 1989

Pages: 314

Bryson was worn in Des Moines, Iowa, and left it as soon as he was able to move to England, as he will gladly tell you. So, in this book, he comes back to the states after being in Britain for ten years, borrows his mom's car, and decides to take a road trip.

He stops at places and talks to people as he drives across the USA. Or, in some cases, he doesn't stop at all because he doesn't like what he sees or doesn't want to investigate the area.

In this book, he seems to primarily write about how the USA is just huge malls and boring people and that there is corruption everywhere. He seems to have still found his way with his ability to balance humor with being snarky.

3. The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way

The Mother Tongue

Published: 1990

Pages: 270

In this book, Bill Bryson set out to answer how the English language came to be the way it is today.

Bryson traces the history of the English language from its humble beginnings as a Germanic dialect spoken by a small tribe of Anglo-Saxons to its current status as a global language spoken by billions of people.

Along the way, Bryson highlights the many factors that have shaped English over the centuries, from the importation of French vocabulary during the Norman Conquest to the influence of popular culture on modern slang.

He also delves into some of the quirks and idiosyncrasies of English, such as its ever-changing spelling rules, which often makes the easy quite difficult.

4. Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe

Neither Here nor There

Published: 1991

Pages: 254

In Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe, Bryson chronicles his journey through the Continent. From his starting point in England, Bryson makes his way through France, Spain, Italy, and many other countries, documenting his experiences along the way.

Bryson provides an insightful and often humorous look at European culture and customs throughout his travels. He also offers a unique perspective on the region's history, uncovering surprising facts about familiar landmarks.

Whether he is marveling at the beauty of Notre Dame or bemoaning the tourist crowds at the Vatican, Bryson's enthusiasm for travel is evident on every page.

5. Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States

Made in America

Published: 1994

Pages: 364

As he likes to do, Bryson uses this book to take an informal look at the history of the English language in the United States. Bryson begins by tracing the origins of American English, outlining how it evolved from a combination of British English, Dutch, and Native American languages.

He chronicles the waves of immigration that have shaped the language, the influence of popular culture on American English, and the regional differences that give rise to new words and phrases.

He also chronicles how the language is adapted to activities such as shopping, sports, sex, and more.

Overall, Made in America provides an exciting and informative look at the English language development in the United States.

6. Notes from a Small Island / The Complete Notes

Notes from a Small Island

Published: 1995

Pages: 282

This is a travelogue about Bryson’s 1994 journey around the coast of Britain. He was going to go back to visit the USA but first decided to travel around his adopted home country. At this point, he had lived in the UK for well over a decade and was intimately familiar with the country and its people.

In his book, he set out to explore the coastline "to see if Britain is as unique as its people like to think it is." He started his journey in Dover, England, and ended it in John o' Groats, Scotland.

Along the way, he visited small towns and villages, talked to locals, and took in the sights and sounds of the British Isles.

His account of his journey is both humorous and insightful and provides readers with a unique perspective on life on the Isle.

7. A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

A Walk in the Woods

Published: 1998

Pages: 276

When Bill Bryson set out to hike the Appalachian Trail, he had no idea what he was getting himself into. The trail, which spans 2,200 miles from Maine to Georgia, is notoriously challenging, and Bryson quickly discovers that he is woefully unprepared for the task at hand.

His journey is beset by bad weather, dangerous wildlife (including bears!), and a series of comic mishaps, but Bryson soldiers on, determined to complete the hike. Along the way, he meets a colorful cast of characters and discovers a deep appreciation for the natural beauty of the Appalachian Mountains.

A Walk in the Woods is a hilarious and insightful account of Bryson's adventure, and it offers a unique perspective on America's wilderness.

8. I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After Twenty Years Away

I'm a Stranger Here Myself

Published: 1999

Pages: 288

Bill Bryson tells the story of his return to the United States after living in England for two decades. Bryson is both amused and dismayed by the changes he finds in his homeland, including the proliferation of chain restaurants, the absurdity of having tax returns, and the proliferation of cell phones.

While Bryson is often critical of America, he expresses deep affection for his country and its people. As he travels across America, he discovers that there is still a lot that is uniquely American beneath the surface.

These stories were originally published as articles for a newspaper back in England.

9. In a Sunburned Country

In a Sunburned Country

Published: 2000

Pages: 307

Bill Bryson's travelogue In a Sunburned Country chronicles his adventures in Australia, a country as diverse as it is dangerous. Bryson covers everything from the history of the continent to what was the political climate, with a healthy dose of self-deprecating humor thrown in for good measure.

He also discusses the dangers that lurk in the Australian wilderness, from poisonous snakes and spiders to man-eating crocodiles. Despite all these dangers, Bryson falls in love with Australia and its people, encouraging readers to explore the country for themselves.

In a Sunburned Country is an entertaining and informative look at one of the most unique places on Earth.

10. A Short History of Nearly Everything

A Short History of Nearly Everything

Published: 2003

Pages: 544

In this book, Bryson tackles the daunting task of summarizing the universe's history in a concise and readable manner while still using his wit and humor.

The book covers a wide range of topics, from the Big Bang to the rise of human civilization. Bryson expertly weaves together this vast amount of information into a cohesive educational, and entertaining story.

One of the book's most appealing features is its focus on the scientists who have dedicated their lives to understanding our world. Bryson makes complex concepts more relatable and understandable by bringing these individuals to life.

A Short History of Nearly Everything is an essential read for anyone interested in learning about our universe and our place within it.

11. A Really Short History of Nearly Everything

A Really Short History of Nearly Everything

Published: 2003

Pages: 176

This book is basically a version of A Short History of Nearly Everything for young adults. It is an excellent primer for them to learn about human civilization, the Earth, the Universe, and more.

12. Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words

Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words

Published: 2004

Pages: 256

This is a book that every grammarian should keep handy. It covers all the thorny issues of English usage with precision and good humor. From "ain't" to "zeborah," Bryson provides clear and concise definitions for words that often cause confusion.

He also offers helpful guidance on when to use each word and real-world examples. In addition, the book includes a handy glossary of grammatical terms, making it an invaluable resource for anyone who wants to improve their writing skills.

Whether you're a seasoned professional or a struggling student, Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words is sure to be a valuable addition to your reference library. Originally written in 1984.

13. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

Published: 2006

Pages: 288

This book is almost like two books in one: It is both a memoir and a love letter to the 1950s. Bryson vividly recalls his childhood in Des Moines, Iowa, when families gathered around the television to watch "I Love Lucy," and kids played outside until the streetlights came on.

Throughout the book, Bryson weaves together personal memories with historical facts and pop culture references to create a nostalgic portrait of a simpler time. While some aspects of the 1950s may seem dated or even cartoonish today, Bryson's affection for this period in history is evident on every page.

As a result, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid are sure to appeal to anyone who had ever longed for the “good old days” back when things were easier to understand.

14. Shakespeare: The World as Stage

Shakespeare: The World as Stage

Published: 2007

Pages: 196

Even though he was born in the USA, Anglophile Bill Bryson set out to explore the man and his work in a way that would be accessible to a broad audience.

To this end, Bryson used a combination of historical research and personal reflection to paint a picture of Shakespeare, the man, while also providing insightful commentary on his plays. In doing so, Bryson offers readers a unique perspective on both the writer and his work.

While those already familiar with Shakespeare may not find much new information in the book, Bryson's engaging writing style makes it an enjoyable and worthwhile read.

For anyone who wants to learn more about the Bard, Shakespeare: The World as Stage is an excellent place to start.

15. Bryson’s Dictionary for Writers and Editors

Bryson’s Dictionary for Writers and Editors

Published: 2008

Pages: 416

This is an essential reference book for anyone who works with words on a regular basis. Bryson covers it in clear, concise language, from misspellings and grammatical errors to common style choices.

This dictionary is handy for those who write for a living, as it includes information on everything from how to format addresses and dates to the proper use of punctuation marks.

Even better, it is written in a way that is easy to understand and follow, making it an invaluable resource for anyone who needs a little help mastering the English language.

Whether you are a seasoned professional or just starting out, Bryson's Dictionary for Writers and Editors is a must-have for your reference library.

16. At Home: A Short History of Private Life

At Home: A Short History of Private Life

Published: 2010

Pages: 497

Bryson explores the history of the home, not just a random home but his home, as he wanders from room to room.

He covers everything from furniture and decoration to food and hygiene to even scientific breakthroughs, providing a detailed look at how our homes have evolved over time. Along the way, Bryson interjects humorous personal anecdotes and observations, giving the reader a unique perspective on the subject.

Whether you're interested in history or simply curious about the origins of everyday objects, At Home is a fascinating read that will leave you with a renewed appreciation for the comforts of home.

17. One Summer: America, 1927

One Summer: America, 1927

Published: 2013

Pages: 456

This is an incredibly fascinating account of a turbulent and transformational time in America's history. Bryson focused on the summer of 1927 when several significant events took place that would shape the country for years to come.

These events include the Great Mississippi Flood, Babe Ruth’s historic bid for 60 home runs, the launch of Charles Lindbergh's famous trans-Atlantic flight, and so much more.

Bryson weaves together these and other stories masterfully, giving readers a detailed and nuanced picture of a pivotal moment in American history.

One Summer is an essential read for anyone interested in understanding this crucial period in our nation's past. It also includes fifty photos to give you a view of the stories.

18. The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island

The Road to Little Dribbling

Published: 2015

Pages: 385

In The Road to Little Dribbling, Bill Bryson sets out to explore Britain, twenty years after he first did so in Notes From a Small Island. While much has changed in that time, Bryson finds that the things that make Britain unique are still very much in evidence.

He travels from the Scottish Highlands to the southern coast of England, and along the way, he marvels at the country's natural beauty, its rich history, and its diverse and eccentric people. He also takes a few pot-shots at some of the less appealing aspects of British life, such as the weather and the food.

However, Bryson loves Britain and its people despite all its quirks and problems, and his affection for both shines through on each page.

19. The Body: A Guide for Occupants

The Body: A Guide for Occupants

Published: 2019

Pages: 450

In this fascinating book, Bryson takes readers on a tour of the human body, highlighting its incredible design and complex functions.

The Body is a thoroughly researched and fascinating look at how our bodies work. This goes from the role of our cells to the importance of our microbiome. Bryson is a master of accessible science writing, and he brings his trademark humor and wit to this subject matter.

Bryson also looks at the history of medicine and scientific discovery, tracing our understanding of the body from ancient times to the present day.

This is an entertaining and enlightening read that will leave you appreciating the miracle of your own body in a whole new way.