A good read

Saturday, August 27, 2005

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.


  • Bryson's "Dictionary of Troublesome words" is a personal favorite of mine. Great read on a typically boring topic. Have read parts of "A short history of nearly everything" and loved what I read. Hope to finish that someday. Ill definitely take up on your recommendation on this one.

    By Blogger The Last Blogger, at 1:02 PM  

  • Bryson's books are a favorite of mine. Had written about this book in my blog too. http://chenthil.blogspot.com/2004/12/notes-from-small-island.html

    I still laugh out whenever I remember about Bournemouth

    The parks used to be described on maps as the Upper Pleasure Gardens and the Lower Pleasure Gardens, but some councillor or other force of good realized the profound and unhealthy implications of placing Lower and Pleasure in such immediate proximity, so now you have the Upper Pleasure Gardens and the mere Pleasure Gardens

    By Blogger Chenthil, at 4:24 AM  

  • :) I love this book... Bryson is one of my favourite travel writers. After reading Notes from a Small island I always keep an eye out for quirky names. Biggleswade is on the way to my office :D

    By Blogger The ramblings of a shoe fiend, at 7:25 AM  

  • Any book by Bryson is a favourite of mine - he's rip-roaringly funny and still manages to impart information - could not ask for more from an author! :)

    By Blogger Shyam, at 8:58 AM  

  • I just picked up this book at Landmark and am halfway through it. Chenthil, I just read that passage today. I'm giggling to myself so often that people turn around to look at me.:))

    By Blogger Sujatha, at 11:07 AM  

  • I just picked up his book on travels in Australia, hope it is as good as the other ones!

    By Blogger ggop, at 4:19 PM  

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