Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Book Review - NOTES FROM A SMALL ISLAND by Bill Bryson

Notes From A Small Island by Bill Bryson
1997, 324pgs.

I love books about other places. Maybe it's just the need to get away from the city I've lived in for most of my life, or some hidden wanderlust within, but I've always loved reading books about other places, whether they were dry, travel guides, or novels with vivid descriptions of the locales, or books like this, where the author regales you with tales from their travels. I first read Bill Bryson a few years ago while I was living in Missoula, MT. I'd found one of his books, A Walk In The Woods, in an excellent used book store. Bryson has a talent for writing about the most mundane things, like changing his boot laces, and makes them seem worth reading about. His adventures are never particularly adventurous, but he seems like the kind of person you'd love to take a hike with. (If you could keep up, the fellow knows his walks!)

In Notes From A Small Island, Bryson takes one last trip around Britain before moving back to the United States. He travels in a pretty large loop, taking some crazy side trips, lots of long walks, and drinks more than a few beers as well. He has a talent for finding bad restaurants worse hotels, and constantly gets caught in the rain. I really enjoyed Notes, it gave a great picture of the strange little world across the sea, their traditions, how some are fading, and how some will survive regardless of time. It's a quick read, and while some people will likely come away from it wanting to avoid Britain and it's dreary little villages, lonely pubs, erratic transportation, and quiant outlook on things, I loved the fact that he avoided most of the touristy things in the country, and focused on the little out of the way places. Sometimes I think trips would all be better if we avoided the given attractions and found our own magic.


Next - The Wood Nymph & The Cranky Saint by C. Dale Brittain

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