I will be honest in saying that I only read this because of Bill Bryson, who I have a not-so-secret crush on for his wordsmithing abilities.
I mean, Shakespeare is cool and all, but I never would have picked it up on its own.
As part of a larger history series, Bill doesn’t have as much free reign as with his travel (mis)adventure books. So while perhaps not as funny or dry as In a Sunburned Country, it is still extremely readable.
Bill Bryson is a natural storyteller.
In what is surely a massive feat, Bill relates not only the Bard’s life, but ties it into the history and cultural mores of the time. For such a short book? I am impressed and you should be, too. It’s harder to write a short book than a long one, and Bill deftly achieves a fine conveyance of biography and history.
My favourite part was that Shakespeare was approached with the eye of a critic and a skeptic. This book is honest about how little information we have from the time, and is OK with “we don’t know” as an answer instead of fabricating a fitting story. (And seriously, it’s utterly ridiculous how little we know. Read it and see what I mean.)
In short, go read this book if you’re even mildly interested in the life and history of arguably the world’s greatest author. You’ll finish it in an afternoon and be the more educated for it.