Wednesday, 4 November 2009
Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
After nearly two decades in Britain, Bill Bryson, the acclaimed author of such bestsellers as "The Mother Tongue" and "Made in America", decided it was time to move back to the United States for a while. This was partly to let his wife and kids experience life in Bryson's homeland - and partly because he had read that 3.7 million Americans believed that they had been abducted by aliens at one time or another. It was thus clear to him that his people needed him. But before leaving his much-loved home in North Yorkshire, Bryson insisted on taking one last trip around Britain, a sort of valedictory tour of the green and kindly island that had so long been his home. His aim was to take stock of modern-day Britain, and to analyze what he loved so much about a country that had produced Marmite, zebra crossings, and place names like Farleigh Wallop, Titsey, and Shellow Bowells. With wit and irreverence, Bill Bryson presents the ludicrous and the endearing in equal measure. The result is a social commentary that conveys the true glory of Britain.
I think I'm done with my tour of Bill Bryson books. It was a good run, but I'm done.
Bryson's Notes from a Small Island is a book that covers a trip he took around Great Britain. I thought that I would really enjoy this book, but I found it a bit tiresome.
The first quarter of the book was very good as he described his experiences in London when he was younger. I lived in London for six months and really liked hearing Bryson's take. I especially liked his description of his first trip to Dover and how he reacted to staying in a number of bed and breakfasts. I also found his work experiences in London to be of great interest.
However, as Bryson moved out into the countryside and travelled from town to town, he started to lose me. He gets excited about details and half the time I feel his enthusiasm and I want to know more. The parts I enjoy the most are bits about people and crazy situations and his thoughts on how ridiculous the world is. The problem is that he spent a lot of time describing buildings I have never seen and never will see. If he only wrote about half of the places he did and spent more time talking about the people he met and the funny experiences he had, this book could have been amazing.
My reading style changed as I read this. At times, I read the first sentence of each paragraph and scanned the rest. I only stopped to read the parts that interested me. The only thing is that by the last half of the book I was reading smaller and smaller patches.
2.5 / 5 Stars