Every now and then when the time has come to decide what book I am about to read next, I hear a small voice in my head whispering "would it not be nice with a bit of Bryson". And more often than not, that is just what I need. For these occations I try to keep an un-read Bryson book around.
This was of course really easy when I had just read a few of his books. Nowdays… to tell the truth, I was just contemplating actually buying his Dictionary of Troublesome Words and, well, reading it from cover to cover, when I just by accident ran into a new release called Shakespeare - The World as Stage . As the name hints, it is yet another book about Shakespeare. I was extremely happy for the new release, and bought it straight away, to save for one of the above mentioned times.
A couple of weeks back, I felt that the time had come to deal with Shakespeare's life. A lunch discussion at work had touched the subject of the great poet, and as I currently live in a native English speaking country, it turned out that every one at the table had been forced to go trough some thing like a literary boot camp in school to learn about his works.
I am not too fond of boot camps. Luckily I had Bryson's little book, so I went home and read it.
The book is a biography and thus focus on William Shakespeare's life and person. Not so much on his plays. I really appreciate that, as I prefer to see the plays performed than to read about them. At least to start with. This is not really a thick book, just below 200 pages, but Bryson manage to squeeze in a whole lot of interesting facts and knowledge. Or at least, a lot of facts about how little is actually know for sure about Shakespeare.
In his charming somewhat dry, however funny manner Bryson points this out a hoard of facts, that sneak up on you like a ninja avalanche. He also manage to share his bewilderment at some of the more astounding information and Shakespeare lore that is out there. It is well worth a read.
I warmly recommend Bill Bryson's texts in general. They often have a degree of wit, humour, and sometimes sarcasm that I wish I could come up with in my best moments. Even if you do not want to read anything at all about Shakespeare, you should read this author. Why not go out and grab some other book? Personally I have felt a kinship to the man ever since he explained how he hated to get off a comfortable train and get into a rental car. I can only agree with that.