Sometimes it takes an outsider armed with just a sharp eye and curiosity to get us to see ourselves as we really are. That would explain the enduring popularity of the American-born writer Bill Bryson, whose wry take on Britain and the British has generated two best-selling books. From the mysteries of afternoon tea to the power of the human brain, what has Bill Bryson learned from his gentle search for understanding?
Photo: Bill Bryson at the Cheltenham Literary Festival Credit: Getty Images
Do you have a body? I do, but I was mostly unaware of this fact until somewhere in my mid-30s, when my life strategy of living like a bourbon-loving brain-in-a-vat became increasingly untenable. Since then, I’ve come to understand something that might have been obvious to you all along. The body’s not just a convenient support system for coming up with clever things to say—it’s how we experience the world. It’s most of what we mean by living.And for all its marvelous autonomy, it’s also wonderfully, bafflingly complex. My guest today is the author Bill Bryson. In his new book THE BODY: A GUIDE FOR OCCUPANTS, he has been kind enough to demystify it for us to the extent that that’s possible, and to help us revel in its mystery everywhere else. Bill is the beloved author of A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING and A WALK IN THE WOODS, and I’m delighted to have him on the show. Surprise conversation starters in this episode: Excerpted from Think Again episode #215 with Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices