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Bill Bryson on after-school science

By Meghan Harper, on 11 June 2010

Bill Bryson

It took attending a discussion by a popular travel writer for Christianne and I to discover we were from the same hometown! We really enjoyed listening to Bill Bryson discuss how, although he never had an aptitude for science, that he really enjoyed it once he realized how amazed he was by information that scientists took for granted in their own research. This is one of the main reasons that I am attending this festival: I am interested in how to get people interested in science, even though they may feel they don’t know enough to make an effort. Bill Bryson is the perfect example who, by admission said he had no interest while in school, but has gone on to be a very successful science writer, and now an editor of a book with scientific content.

A huge portion of the lecture was devoted to taking questions from the audience, and it was clear that there were quite a few very avid fans of Bryson’s writing, from his travel books to his science writing. Bryson considered each question posed to him very seriously, and made an excellent attempt to answer everyone’s questions, freely admitting when he didn’t have strict knowledge about the answer. He built a real rapport with the audience, accepting praise with grace and admitted that the questions from this audience were some of the most challenging he had been asked.

And, just in case you need a book recommendation, one of the questions form the audience was which of his books would he recommend reading first. The answer? Although A Short History of Almost Everything was perhaps his most popular, he has fond memories and a strong regard for A Walk in the Woods. So go pick up a copy, and should you ever have the opportunity to hear him speak, do!