In the film A Walk in the Woods, Robert Redford portrays Bill Bryson, an aging author who decides to try and hike the 2,000-plus miles of the Appalachian Trail from start to finish. Joining Bryson for the journey is Stephen Katz, portrayed with perfection by Nick Nolte, a long lost friend with whom Bryson has not spoke in many years. The movie is a lot of fun, and it's actually based on a true story; Bill Bryson is a real author, and he really did attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail with an old friend. The movie is based on Bryson's memoir of the same name, but unlike the 78-year-old Redford in the film, the real Bryson was only in his mid-40s when he went on his hike back in the 1990s. But what is Bill Bryson doing now, all these years after he wrote A Walk in the Woods?
Quite a bit, actually. A Walk in the Woods was published in 1998, nearly 20 years ago (!), and the prolific author hasn't sat still for very long since, publishing 11 books since then, with another due out in October. Largely known as a travel writer throughout much of his career, Bryson has expanded his horizons in recent years and can no longer be so easily grouped into any one genre. With that in mind, here's a selection of some of Bryson's works he's completed since A Walk in the Woods.
In A Sunburned Country
Bryson followed up A Walk in the Woods with a trip to Australia and came away with this book all about the Land Down Under. As an outsider in the country, Bryson was taken in by the friendliness of Australians... in spite of all the insane ways the country tries to kill you. If you're interested in learning more about this country/continent/island, you pretty much have to check out this book.
Bill Bryson's African Diary
A Short History Of Nearly Everything
The Life And Times Of The Thunderbolt Kid
Shakespeare: The World As Stage
At Home: A Short History Of Private Life
Only Bill Bryson could take a subject as seemingly boring as the contents of people's houses and turn it into a fascinating read. This book discusses the history of the rooms, appliances, and furniture in the typical modern home and reveals how they ended up there. Relevant to basically everyone, there's nothing else quite like it.
One Summer: America, 1927
The summer of 1927 was an incredible time in American history, and you'd know that if you read this book. The death of Al Capone, Charles Lindbergh's trans-Atlantic flight, Babe Ruth's 60 home run season... a lot of big events happened in those few months, and Bryson brings it all to life in his typical witty and informative manner.
The Road To Little Dribbling
Bryson returns to travel writing for the first time in 15 years with this new book, due out next month. In it, Bryson visits his former home of Britain 20 years after penning his bestseller "Notes From a Small Island" (voted by the BBC as the book that best represents Britain) to take another trip around the country, and notices just how much a place can change in two decades.
Clearly, Bill Bryson has been keeping busy since he wrote A Walk in the Woods, and he shows no signs of slowing down. Who knows, maybe another hike up the Appalachian Trail is even in his future!
Images: Anchor; Broadway Books; HarperCollins; Doubleday; Random House