Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
I was on holiday and it was typical British summer's day - wet, windy and depressing. I picked this book up on impulse in an attempt to cheer myself up. As I turned the pages, the sun broke through and I lost myself in Bryson's brilliant book on the quirks and quintessence of Britain. Bryson came to this country as a young man, made it his home for more than 20 years and on the eve of his return to his native America, he makes a farewell trip around the country and discovers what about it makes it so special.
The author spends a good 8 weeks on the road, exploring the nooks and crevices of this small island. He talks us through forgotten monuments, tourist attractions, countless pints of beer, pub dinners, friendly B&Bs, extra-polite strangers, never-in-a-hurry train journeys, red telephone boxes, sniffling drizzly rains, queues, BBC re-runs and many other British facts-of-life.
This has to be one of the funniest books I've read in a while as page after page, Bryson amuses you with his affectionate take on life here. My favourite has to be his observations of town/village names (including a believe-it-or-not Thornton-le-beans!). I was laughing so hard, I cried! You will like it more if you've experienced some of the things he talks about. But even otherwise, it's a grand read. Bound to leave you chuffed.