Bill Bryson presents at Frederick Community College as part of Frederick Reads Event Photo Credit: Kurt Holter

Bestselling author Bill Bryson shares expertise, laughter at FCC

A large audience attended the Frederick Reads event at Frederick Community College on March 6 to see author, Bill Bryson, talk about his life adventures along with his journey to becoming a bestselling author.

Bryson, who made an appearance at the Weinberg Center for the Arts the night before, had a full house, as the JBK auditorium at FCC was packed with individuals of all ages who came with smiles and dog-eared books by Bryson in hand.

The Frederick Reads program is one in which acclaimed authors speak about their personal writing process along with their life journeys that may have gotten them to their career. This wasn’t the first time that FCC had hosted an author presentation. Elizabeth Burmaster, President of FCC, said it was “the 11th year working with this program.”  

“It’s through these thought provoking and lively discussions, that provide very unique learning opportunities for our students,” Burmaster said.

When Bryson emerged from behind the curtain, the audience applauded and some of the crowd even stood and shouted as the auditorium gave him a positive welcome.

Bryson was all smiles as he greeted the audience saying, “this is the most enchanted place.”

Someone who is accustomed to traveling, Bryson shared how he loved to travel and was happy to add Frederick to his list. Always adventurous, Bryson talked about how growing up he had two main places of residence, one being Des Moines, Iowa, where he lived for the first 20 years of his life, and the other being in England. Bryson, who is famous for his humorous tales finds his inspiration through numerous travel experiences.

“I’ve had a happily crazy life,” Bryson said.

A portion of Bryson’s talk focused on him reminiscing about his childhood and how he got his start in the writing realm. Bryson made it a point that many of the audience members that attended would have probably remembered the 1950s as well as he did saying, “it was a great time to be a kid in the fifties.”

Bryson spoke about his parents, who were both a part of the writing business as he was growing up. His father was a sports writer for the Des Moines newspaper.

“He was one of the funniest people I’ve ever known,” Bryson said about his father, before proceeding to tell some of his father’s jokes, which had the audience laughing continuously.

“She was the most wonderful person, the kindest person,” Bryson said of his mother.

His mother was also a writer for the Des Moines newspaper, where she was the coordinator for the home furnishing section.

Bryson, who had followed in his parents’ footsteps, started his career in newspapers and then began writing books when he started writing about his travels around Europe, which he started when he was 20 years old.

Aside from speaking about his childhood and how he came about as an author, Bryson read several excerpts from some of his best-selling books. One of his books he read from was Notes from a Small Island, where he talked about his attachment to England. Even though Bryson spent most of his time in England then and now, he claims there were things in America he missed such as baseball and politics.  

Notes from a Small Island also has a sequel titled, The Road to Little Dribbling, where Bryson writes and reflects on how much England has changed since he’s written about it last. Bryson had actually said many of his readers thought the book had a more of a “grouchier tone.”

“As you get older the world gets harder,” Bryson said in response to his critics. “But then I thought, the world isn’t getting harder the people are just more stupid.”

The audience laughed and applauded him once again on his wit.

Before Bryson took to the portion for questions and answers, he had a word of advice for many of the FCC students that were present during his talk. He stressed the importance that education is “a goal that’s very much achievable for all of us.”  

Bryson said he was truly grateful for being able to present at a higher learning institution such as FCC, and that he “really respects higher education.”

He left the audience with one more piece of advice saying, “you are so very lucky to live in this country.”

A standing ovation was given to Bryson as he thanked everyone for allowing him to come and speak. Following the presentation, Bryson was greeted by a long line of audience members, who were waiting to meet him and have their books signed. One audience member said she thoroughly enjoyed Bryson saying, “he was very funny and inspiring to listen to. I couldn’t believe the turnout that he brought.”

Frederick Reads does an event like this every year. FCC will be hosting another Frederick Reads event soon, a campus book discussion: Octavia E. Butler, March 22-April 19. Along with that, FCPL will also be holding another event with Frederick Reads in a summer series titled, “Discovering Space,” June 2-Aug. 25.

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