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Bill Bryson Quotes

There’d never been a more advantageous time to be a criminal in America than during the 13 years of Prohibition. At a stroke, the American government closed down the fifth largest industry in the United States – alcohol production – and just handed it to criminals – a pretty remarkable thing to do.
Bill Bryson
Time, Government, America

We forget just how painfully dim the world was before electricity. A candle, a good candle, provides barely a hundredth of the illumination of a single 100 watt light bulb.
Bill Bryson
Good, Single, Forget

I have long known that it is part of God’s plan for me to spend a little time with each of the most stupid people on earth.
Bill Bryson
Time, God, Stupid

There are only three things that can kill a farmer: lightning, rolling over in a tractor, and old age.
Bill Bryson
Age, Old, Three

The real problem you get with humour is that you only have so many kinds of jokes within you, and you mine that vein a lot. This isn’t just common to me; it’s anybody who’s funny.
Bill Bryson
Funny, Problem, Within

In the countryside, litter doesn’t have a friend. It doesn’t have anybody who’s saying, ‘Wait a minute, this is really starting to get out of control.’
Bill Bryson
Saying, Control, Friend

I see litter as part of a long continuum of anti-social behaviour.
Bill Bryson
Behaviour, Litter, Continuum

In a funny way, nothing makes you feel more like a native of your own country than to live where nearly everyone is not.
Bill Bryson
Funny, Everyone, Makes

I grew up, really, in the days before air conditioning. So I can remember what it was like to be really hot, for instance, and I can remember what it was like when your barber shop and your local stores weren’t air conditioned, so it was hot when you went in them and they propped the doors open.
Bill Bryson
Remember, Days, Open

Science has been quite embattled. It’s the most important thing there is. An arts graduate is not going to fix global warming. They may do other valuable things, but they are not going to fix the planet or cure cancer or get rid of malaria.
Bill Bryson
Science, Quite, Cancer

I had always thought that once you grew up you could do anything you wanted – stay up all night or eat ice-cream straight out of the container.
Bill Bryson
Once, Night, Stay

The remarkable position in which we find ourselves is that we don’t actually know what we actually know.
Bill Bryson
Actually, Ourselves, Position

There are things you just can’t do in life. You can’t beat the phone company, you can’t make a waiter see you until he’s ready to see you, and you can’t go home again.
Bill Bryson
Life, Home, Again

I don’t know whether I’m misanthropic. It seems to me I’m constantly disappointed. I’m very easily disappointed.
Bill Bryson
Whether, Seems, Easily

I still enjoy traveling a lot. I mean, it amazes me that I still get excited in hotel rooms just to see what kind of shampoo they’ve left me.
Bill Bryson
Mean, Enjoy, Left

Des Moines is like your typical American city; it’s just these concentric circles of malls, built outward from the city.
Bill Bryson
City, Built, Typical

I can’t fix the world. If you want to make a difference in life, you have to direct your energies in a focused way.
Bill Bryson
Life, Difference, Focused

It is unthinkable to have a British countryside that doesn’t have actual functioning farmers riding tractors, cows in fields, things like that.
Bill Bryson
British, Actual, Farmers

America is a great disappointment to me. As I said in one of my books, other societies create civilisations; we build shopping malls.
Bill Bryson
Great, Said, America

England was full of words I’d never heard before – streaky bacon, short back and sides, Belisha beacon, serviettes, high tea, ice-cream cornet.
Bill Bryson
Words, High, Short

I’m not funny in person. I mean I’m really not. I’m one of those people who always screw up anecdotes.
Bill Bryson
Funny, Mean, Screw

The whole of the global economy is based on supplying the cravings of two per cent of the world’s population.
Bill Bryson
Whole, Economy, Based

Anyone who has read my books will know that I don’t tend to use guides when I am travelling. It’s not a pride thing, but it is certainly a fact.
Bill Bryson
Fact, Read, Anyone

I’ve been wanting to do a book about baseball for the longest time, and nobody will let me do it. It’s the one thing from America I really miss.
Bill Bryson
Time, America, Book

I’ve never quite understood that feeling: that you arrive in a strange place, yet you want to have nothing but familiar experiences.
Bill Bryson
Feeling, Quite, Strange

For a long time, I’d been vaguely fascinated by the idea that Charles Lindbergh flew the Atlantic and Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs in the same summer.
Bill Bryson
Time, Home, Idea

A world without newspapers or a world where the newspapers are purely electronic and you read them on a screen is not a very appealing world.
Bill Bryson
Read, Screen, Newspapers

America is a very seductive place in terms of lifestyle and comfort, but it wasn’t for me.
Bill Bryson
America, Terms, Comfort

In any area of human endeavour, there is going to be mediocrity. You’re going to find people who get money that they shouldn’t get.
Bill Bryson
Money, Mediocrity, Area

Cheapness is a great virtue.
Bill Bryson
Great, Virtue

I always wanted to do a baseball book; I love baseball. The problem is that a very large part of my following is in non-baseball playing countries.
Bill Bryson
Love, Book, Problem

I can’t imagine there has ever been a more gratifying time or place to be alive than America in the 1950s. No country had ever known such prosperity.
Bill Bryson
Time, America, Alive

I come from Des Moines. Someone had to.
Bill Bryson

I don’t want to go and start trying to make jokes in places like India, Tanzania or Iraq. Afghanistan is not a funny place.
Bill Bryson
Funny, Trying, Start

I grew up in Des Moines. My dad had a house full of books, things like P.G. Wodehouse books and ‘Wuthering Heights’ by Emily Bronte.
Bill Bryson
Dad, Books, House

I like to do books in which a lot of the research and the writing and the thinking revolves around something American.
Bill Bryson
Thinking, Books, Research

I sometimes think I cannot write another passage about a disappointing meal ever again, because I’ve done it so many times.
Bill Bryson
Cannot, Another, Times

I understand cricket – what’s going on, the scoring – but I can’t understand why.
Bill Bryson
Understand, Cricket, Scoring

The first book I did – the first successful book – was a kind of a travel book, and publishers in Britain encouraged me to do more.
Bill Bryson
Travel, Successful, Book

There is the odd exception, like Albert Einstein, but as a breed, scientists tend not be very good at presenting themselves.
Bill Bryson
Good, Themselves, Tend

You don’t need a science degree to understand about science. You just need to think about it.
Bill Bryson
Science, Understand, Degree

I want things to be better all the time. And I tend to get angry about that. Books are an opportunity to vent.
Bill Bryson
Time, Angry, Books

I’m a great believer that you had to do everything you’ve done to have got to where you are.
Bill Bryson
Great, Believer

I’m definitely an American, because I grew up here. But I’ve lived very happily in Britain.
Bill Bryson
Here, Lived, Grew

More than 300 million people in the world speak English and the rest, it sometimes seems, try to.
Bill Bryson
Speak, Rest, Seems

Much as I resented having to grow up in Des Moines, it gave me a real appreciation for every place in the world that’s not Des Moines.
Bill Bryson
Grow, Having, Gave

Nobody gets excited about the future at all, ever. The future is something we find depressing and worrisome.
Bill Bryson
Future, Nobody, Gets

Scientists tend to be unappreciated in the world at large, but you can hardly overstate the importance of the work they do.
Bill Bryson
Work, Large, Tend

When you tell an Iowan a joke, you can see a kind of race going on between his brain and his expression.
Bill Bryson
Between, Tell, Brain

You may find that your parents are the most delightful people, but you don’t want to live with them.
Bill Bryson
Parents, Delightful

My first rule of consumerism is never to buy anything you can’t make your children carry.
Bill Bryson
Children, Rule, Buy

The world at night, for much of history, was a very dark place indeed.
Bill Bryson
History, Night, Dark

If you drive to, say, Shenandoah National Park, or the Great Smoky Mountains, you’ll get some appreciation for the scale and beauty of the outdoors. When you walk into it, then you see it in a completely different way. You discover it in a much slower, more majestic sort of way.
Bill Bryson
Beauty, Great, Walk

Open your refrigerator door, and you summon forth more light than the total amount enjoyed by most households in the 18th century. The world at night, for much of history, was a very dark place indeed.
Bill Bryson
History, Night, Light

Book tours are really kind of fun. You get to stay in nice hotels, you are driven everywhere in big silver cars, you are treated as if you are much more important than you are, you can eat steak three times a day at someone else’s expense, and you get to talk endlessly about yourself for weeks at a stretch.
Bill Bryson
Nice, Yourself, Fun

I have made a career of bumbling around places, stumbling on landmarks and generally being quite haphazard and shambolic about the way I go about things.
Bill Bryson
Career, Quite, Places

You don’t have to know anything about baseball to respond to Babe Ruth because he’s just this magnificent human being. And a really good story because he was this kid who grew up essentially as an orphan, you know, had a tough life, and then he became the most successful baseball player ever. But he was also a really good guy.
Bill Bryson
Life, Good, Successful

I don’t know whether I’m misanthropic. It seems to me I’m constantly disappointed. I’m very easily disappointed. Disappointed in the things that people do; disappointed in the things that people construct. I want things to be better all the time.
Bill Bryson
Time, Whether, Seems

I hadn’t realized quite how extraordinary Charles Lindbergh’s achievement was in flying the Atlantic alone. He had never flown over open water before, but he flew straight to Dingle Bay in Ireland and then on to Paris, exactly as planned.
Bill Bryson
Alone, Quite, Water

I once joked in a book that there are three things you can’t do in life. You can’t beat the phone company, you can’t make a waiter see you until he is ready to see you, and you can’t go home again. Since the spring of 1995, I have been quietly, even gamely, reassessing point number three.
Bill Bryson
Life, Home, Once

If you go out on the Appalachian Trail, you have to bring so much more equipment – a tent, sleeping bag – but if you go hiking in England, or Europe, generally, towns and villages are near enough together at the end of the day you can always go to a nice little inn and have a hot bath and something to drink.
Bill Bryson
Nice, End, Enough

Maine is wonderful. It can be very hard. I mean, if you look at the profile maps it doesn’t look it, but somehow when you get out there it’s really steep and hard.
Bill Bryson
Mean, Wonderful, Somehow

Roads get wider and busier and less friendly to pedestrians. And all of the development based around cars, like big sprawling shopping malls. Everything seems to be designed for the benefit of the automobile and not the benefit of the human being.
Bill Bryson
Less, Friendly, Seems

Where I grew up, in Des Moines, Iowa, there is hardly any downtown economic activity now. Everybody shops in malls – you don’t find a sense of community in malls.
Bill Bryson
Sense, Everybody, Community

An awful lot of England is slowly eroding, in ways that I find really distressing, and an awful lot of it is the hedgerows… We’re reaching the point where a lot of the English countryside looks just like Iowa – just kind of open space.
Bill Bryson
Point, Open, Ways

Coming back to your native land after an absence of many years is a surprisingly unsettling business, a little like waking from a long coma. Time, you discover, has wrought changes that leave you feeling mildly foolish and out of touch.
Bill Bryson
Time, Business, Feeling

I always tell people there’s only one trick to writing: You have to write something that people are willing to pay money to read. It doesn’t have to be very good, necessarily, but somebody, somewhere, has got to be willing to pay money for it.
Bill Bryson
Good, Money, Tell

I don’t plan to write another science book, but I don’t plan not to. I do enjoy writing histories, and taking subjects that are generally dull and trying to make them interesting.
Bill Bryson
Science, Another, Trying

I just use my life story as a kind of device on which to hang comic observations. It’s not my interest or instinct to tell the world anything pertinent about myself or my family.
Bill Bryson
Life, Family, Tell

I often feel I’m a disappointment to people because they expect me to be the guy in the books. When I sit next to someone at a dinner party I can see they expect me to be quick and witty, and I’m not at all.
Bill Bryson
Often, Next, Books

I’ve been writing all these books that have been largely autobiographical and yet, really, they don’t tell you anything about me. I just use my life story as a kind of device on which to hang comic observations. It’s not my interest or instinct to tell the world anything pertinent about myself or my family.
Bill Bryson
Life, Family, Tell

Personally, I’ve never been attracted to danger. It’s not my sort of thing. I am more attracted to pubs and cafes. The known, safe and comfortable world.
Bill Bryson
Known, Sort, Danger

To me, the greatest invention of my lifetime is the laptop computer and the fact that I can be working on a book and be in an airport lounge, in a hotel room, and continue working; I fire up my laptop, and I’m in exactly the same place I was when I left home – that, to me, is a miracle.
Bill Bryson
Home, Greatest, Book

Yes, U.S. travelers dress better. The British are always so conspicuous in hot climates. They don’t seem to wear shorts. American men seem to be comfortable wearing hot-weather clothing.
Bill Bryson
Men, Seem, Yes

Boston’s freeway system is insane. It was clearly designed by a person who had spent his childhood crashing toy trains.
Bill Bryson
System, Childhood, Insane

Have you ever seen Glenn Beck in operation? It is the most terrifying thing. It’s so bad that you think he’s going to announce in a minute that it’s all a great con. He makes Sarah Palin look reasonable and steady.
Bill Bryson
Great, Bad, Makes

I can wear a baseball cap; I am entitled to wear a baseball cap. I am genetically pre-disposed to wear a baseball cap, whereas most English people look wrong in a baseball cap.
Bill Bryson
Wrong, Baseball, English

I once joked in a book that there are three things you can’t do in life. You can’t beat the phone company, you can’t make a waiter see you until he is ready to see you, and you can’t go home again.
Bill Bryson
Life, Home, Once

In 1927, if you were stuck with idle time, reading is what you did. It’s no accident that the ‘Book-of-the-Month Club’ and ‘The Literary Guild’ were founded in that period as well as a lot of magazines, like ‘Reader’s Digest,’ ‘Time,’ and ‘The New Yorker.’
Bill Bryson
Time, Reading, Accident

Very little of what America does is actually bad, and I don’t think it ever does anything anywhere that is intentionally bad. I mean, sometimes we make mistakes and bad judgments and kind of back the wrong regimes and things, but by and large what America does is really good.
Bill Bryson
Good, Bad, Mean

All the things that are part of your heritage make you British – that makes this country what it is. It’s part of your history. And here, unlike America, it’s still living history.
Bill Bryson
History, Living, America

Although I was always very happy in Britain, I never stopped thinking of America as home, in the fundamental sense of the term. It was where I came from, what I really understood, the base against which all else was measured.
Bill Bryson
Home, Happy, America

Britain still has the most reliably beautiful countryside of anywhere in the world. I would hate to be part of the generation that allowed that to be lost.
Bill Bryson
Beautiful, Hate, Lost

I could give you a long list of things I like about Britain, but essentially what it comes down to is that I feel about Britain the same way I feel about my wife. I’m crazy about my wife – we just kind of suit each other. I wouldn’t say that she’s the most fantastic human being that’s ever lived, but she is for me.
Bill Bryson
Crazy, Wife, She

I painted myself into a corner by writing a whole book on this one period. The summer of 1927 came to an end, but nothing else did – all of these peoples’ lives went on.
Bill Bryson
End, Whole, Book

I wish I could adjust my voice, but it’s just what’s happened to me. It’s because I’ve lived abroad for a long time, and my wife is English and my kids all have English accents, and every voice I hear is English. I’ve never intentionally changed my accent at all.
Bill Bryson
Time, Wife, Kids

I would make a genuinely terrible guide. I can’t remember things. I would get half way through telling a story or explaining something and I would get distracted. Oh, and I have absolutely no sense of direction at all.
Bill Bryson
Sense, Remember, Story

I’m not a natural story-teller. Put a keyboard in front of me and I’m fine, but stand me up in front of an audience and I’m actually quite shy and reserved.
Bill Bryson
Actually, Stand, Quite

In order to have quality journalism you need to have a good income stream, and no Internet model has produced a way of generating income that would pay for good-quality investigative journalism.
Bill Bryson
Good, Order, Pay

One of the brilliant things about Britain is the way you’ve managed to save old things but to keep using them – that they’ve not just become museums the way they do in the United States.
Bill Bryson
Old, Keep, United

The basic challenge of any book is you know you’re going to be working on it for three or four years or more. So you want to have a subject that will keep you engaged.
Bill Bryson
Keep, Book, Working

The world is very lucky to have America. It’s got to be the first time in the whole history of the planet that a country has been the dominant force in the world and it has actually been a force for good… America really deserves more credit.
Bill Bryson
Time, Good, History

alex 0 Added 4 years ago

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