Friday, August 7, 2015

Notes From a Small Island by Bill Bryson

genre: travelogue

While Bill Bryson was raised in middle America, jolly old England is where he'd hung his hat for the past 20 years.  When a move back to the states was imminent, he decided to use public transportation to travel around that magical island and see all its wonders.  With a very self-depreciating style and an uncommonly violent hatred for ugly buildings, Bryson introduces us to the sites and backcountry life of England, Wales and Scotland.

This is the fourth Bryson I've tried and while it isn't my favorite, it isn't my least favorite either.  I already have a deep and abiding love for Britian and so I came to this book with a higher level of interested.  While parts had me actually cackling outloud, I'd say those parts are pretty few and far between.  I think one problem is that I'm not a very good armchair traveler, which isn't Bill Bryson's fault, but it does mean that I get bored easier than someone is content reading about doing something instead of doing it themselves.  There is some interesting stuff in here but it's mostly him complaining that things are dreary, his hotel is shoddy and he can't find a good pub to get a pint in.  I liked when he was teaching me about social history, especially in Northern England with its industrial past and his musings on the British Character were entertaining.  I do like his style of storytelling and his presence in the book is humorous, I just wasn't blown away.

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