Monday, January 28, 2013

Notes from a Small Island

Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson

If Bill Bryson decides to write a book about something, chances are I'll read it, and enjoy it. He's written books about walking the Appalachian Trail, growing up in Iowa, his travels to Australia, across Europe, and to Africa, the origins of words in the English language, the history of common household items, and an encyclopedic-type book that gives a history of pretty much everything in the universe. I've read all of them, and while some were more entertaining and funnier than others, I enjoyed them all.

Notes from a Small Island has been the last remaining Bryson book on my shelves for quite some time. I hadn't read it, not because I didn't want to, but because I kind of thought it would make more sense to read it just prior to taking a trip back to England. I still think that would make the most sense, but I decided that since the closest I'll be getting to England any time soon is BBC America, I might as well read it now.

In 1973, Bill Bryson, an American journalist, moved to England where he worked, got married, and fell in love with British life. Twenty years later he decided that America needed him and that it was time to return, but not before going on a kind of walkabout farewell tour of Britain. Notes from a Small Island is a memoir of his travels throughout England, Scotland, and Wales as he revisited places he had been to when he first moved across the Atlantic as well as his visits to places he had never been to before.

In Notes from a Small Island you get a full dose of Bryson's humor and wit as well as glimpses of his more cantankerous side, as he describes both the aspects of British life that he loves and those he will not miss. Overall the book was a pleasurable read, and I'll reread it if I ever have a chance to visit areas of Britain again, but if I were to recommend one of his books to the uninitiated, I'd recommend A Walk in the Woods, The Lost Continent, or I'm a Stranger Here Myself first.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

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