Love Bill Bryson! Have probably read all of his books, with The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid (a bit of a memoir from him) being a particular favorite. Recently I've been rereading, for the 3rd or 4th time, his book Mother Tongue, his book about how English and American English came to be. I'm a bit of a linguaphile, a lover of words and languages, so I find it all fascinating.
I love how adaptive English has been, we got shampoo from India, caucus from the Alonquin Indians, ketchup from China, potato from Haiti, sofa from Arabia, slogan from Gaelic.
Bryson says that many Greek words, became Latin words, which became French words, which became English words. For instance garbage was brought to England by the Normans, who had adapted it from an Italian dialectal word, garbazo, which had been taken from old Italian garbuglio (a mess), which in turn had come from the Latin bullire (to boil or bubble).
For centuries English was the language of the lower classes, the nobility spoke French, and they did what they pleased with it with no formal rules. So it became less formal, had less inflection and grammatical changes happened all the time.
He also talks about how words and expressions differ between British English and American English. Some that were common in Elizabethan England that died out in England were "fall" as a synonym for autumn, "mad" for angry, "progress" as a verb, "platter" of a large dish, "assignment"in the sense of a job or task, "deck of cards", "slim" in the sense of small (as in a slim chance), "mean" in the sense of unpleasant instead of stingy, "trash" for rubbish, "hog" as a synonym for pig, "mayhem", "magnetic", "chore", "skillet", "ragamuffin", "homespun" and the expression "I guess". He says some of these have started to filter back across the Atlantic and you'll hear them in England again.
He also writes about the "Great Vowel Shift" and how words came to be pronounced as they are, so fascinating.
As I said, this is a reread for me, I reread it every couple of years and is a book I always recommend to people who are as fascinated languages and words as I am.