Bill Bryson is funny

View from the upper deck

My Bill Bryson books sat unread on my shelf until I gave one to my brother to read on a trip last summer.  He loved it, so I grabbed Bryson’s Notes From a Small Island off the shelf to read myself. Here’s the plot:  Bryson is getting ready to move from England, his home of many years, so he takes a last, long, meandering trip about Great Britain.  It’s not a novel concept, nor an exciting one, but he makes it charming, readable, and particularly funny.  This is one of the best books for getting a taste of the culture of England, Scotland, & Wales, and a primer of the little-known places you might like to see.

This passage alone makes the book worth reading: “I took a train to Liverpool.  They were having a festival of litter when I arrived.  Citizens had taken time off from their busy activities  to add ice cream wrappers, empty cigarette boxes, and plastic carrier bags to the otherwise bland and neglected landscape.  They fluttered gaily in the bushes and brought color and texture to pavements and gutters.  And to think that elsewhere we stick these objects in trashbags.”

Travel writers take note.  He didn’t use cliches or drawn-out sentences with thesaurus-fulls of adjectives and adverbs.  He used understatement and humor.  What a treat.

That’s not much of a review, but it’s all you need.  Read Bill Bryson.

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Book Review of Notes From a Small Island by Bill Bryson, 1995, one of the best travel books of all time.

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