Title: Notes from a Small Island
Author: Bill Bryson
Page Count/Review Word Count: 352
I had high expectations going into this book because my friend Neil lists it as his favourite book of all time. Neil has pretty good taste, so I picked this up when I saw it on the basis of that.
It turns out that Neil was right. Bryson’s book tells the true story of his travels across Britain when he basically headed off on a farewell tour before moving back to his native America after a number of years in the UK. For me, that was part of the appeal – when he was talking about London and Liverpool and other such places, I could picture it all in my head because I’d visited a bunch of them.
Bryson also has a quirky writing style that makes you literally laugh out loud while you’re reading it, and I even took to reading short excerpts aloud to my girlfriend – and she said it sounded like a funny read. He makes the reading experience a pleasure, and he does a great job of bringing Britain to life with the unique perspective of an American. Because of that, it’s hard not to love it.
There’s also the fact that this book has the potential to appeal to a wide range of people. You don’t have to be British to like this, and you don’t have to be an American. You also don’t need to be a fan of travel writing, because it’s also an entertaining piece of comedy. It’s almost the forerunner of some of the comedy/travel hybrids that you see from people like Tony Hawks and, later, Dave Gorman.
So go ahead and grab yourself a copy of this. It really is a fantastic book, and it belongs in any serious reader’s collection – no matter what sort of stuff you’re usually into. My only complaint would be that the layout made it look much denser than it actually is. That was offputting, until I started reading it. Otherwise, it’s awesome!