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Showing 1-10 of 535 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 902 reviews
on July 11, 2014
Right. Well this book completely derailed my reading list for the summer. I was supposed to be catching up on Criminal Justice texts and memorizing terms from Barron's Law Dictionary... Instead, I purchased Notes from a Small Island and things went out of control from there. It is literally the first time in my life that reading a book made me laugh out loud and uncontrollably, to TEARS. This gem was highly recommended by English friends as a must-read before I make the move to the UK for my year of study abroad this fall. I obliged. Not even halfway through the book, I decided to order more of his books right away in order to have them ready when I finished with this one. That is how my Bill Bryson binge began. Currently I am on my third book (by order of what arrives in the mail first) called A Short History of Nearly Everything.

Bryson is merciless in his observations of British towns and the British in general, but it's all in the spirit of that endearingly cynical, self-deprecating, quintessential British humour. (see what I did there?!) His way of writing puts you at ease and it's like a cross between travel guide, government & history lesson and stand up comedy, as Bryson loves to go off on barely relevant and hilarious tangents. You never get the sense that he is trying too hard or being pretentious, either. A bonus is the glossary he provides in the back of the book for British words like "dual carriageway" and "naff."

The fact that it was recommended to me by English and Welsh friends is testament to the authenticity of Bryson's observations and his comedic genius. Seriously recommend this read if you're an Anglophile or just enjoy a good, fun read.
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on November 18, 2016
This is the book that made Bill Bryson's latest publication, "The Road to Little Dribbling," possible. After living in the UK for a number of years, Bryson decided to take a fresh look at his adopted country and travels throughout England, Wales, and Scotland before he relocated his family to the U.S. for a period of time -- and the result is "Notes from a Small Island." This year, with the publication of "Little Dribbling," he goes back to the places he saw in "Notes." Both books are worth the read -- and both give you plenty of laugh-out-load moments, as well as many moments of thoughtful reflection on being human, as well as life in the UK. Having read "Little Dribbling" first, I came at "Notes" with a genuine curiosity about what his original insights would be like -- and how his perspective had changed. In addition to gaining an appreciation of these qualities, it was interesting to see how Bill Bryson had grown as a person and author. All in all a rewarding purchase -- and a great antidote to those times when daily life gets a bit too heavy to handle.
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on March 4, 2016
I've never been to England and this book won't inspire me to take a trip there. The book is very well written (the only reason I was able to finish reading it) but, Bill's intimate knowledge of the country sometimes left me standing on the outside looking in. I was often disappointed when Bill's description of a place was rendered as if the reader had some familiarity with the setting. Be prepared for pages of dreary, grey rain and lots of cold mucking about. Mr Bryson's wit and ability to poke gentle fun at an entire people, individuals and himself save this book.
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on April 19, 2016
As usual, Bill Bryson both educates and entertains as he moves through his travelogue. In this adventure he takes the reader to both familiar and unfamiliar parts of the British Isles, often seeking sites that he has read about but that few tourists would ever even know about. His narrative is sparked with his characteristic sense of humor, and he "paints" vivid pictures of both the country and the people he encounters. While I would not consider this his best work (My personal favorite is In a Sunburned Country), it is an enjoyable read.
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on January 27, 2017
A pleasant, slightly dated ramble through Britain, often on foot, with evocations of his first visit many years before, by an American who lived and worked in England for decades and who loves the place. Pleasant, well written, discursive, mildly funny, pretty pleasing. Mostly of interest, I would guess, to Brits and Anglophiles.
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on January 30, 2017
Almost an excellent book. It has been said that Bill Bryson can write about anything and make it interesting and I have found this to be true. This book, while entertaining and sometimes laugh out loud funny, becomes a rather lengthy gripe session about what bothers him about England. And these gripes are repeated for every town or village he visits. Still, it is a good read and no one other than Mark Twain could have done it so well. It does remind me of Innocents Abroad.
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on October 28, 2015
This is a nice read. The book is a travelogue, which tends to get tedious after a while but Bryson's observations and lively writing style make this an interesting book. As an American living in a foreign country myself, I can identify with many of the topics that Bryson talks about. Seeing things from the outside is the key to this book. Combined with Bryson's sense of humor, this becomes a very enjoyable read.
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on March 17, 2017
I lived in the U.K. For the first half of my life (30 years) this book is right on the money! Hilariously funny, at times it's kind of mean but it's all so true.
If you've lived in the United Kingdom or are familiar with the way of life there then this book will make you laugh.
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on January 25, 2017
An engaging light-hearted travelogue about the less traveled areas of Great Britain. If you are an Anglophile, or if you have ever traveled to, or lived in the UK, you will enjoy reading this book about some of the cities, towns, villages, and places beyond the beaten track of most American tourists (i.e. London and environs). Bryson, an American journalist living in Great Britain, is the perfect travel guide; his experiences of living and working in the UK, and his rifts on British and American customs are quite entertaining and give the reader unique insights into the British way of doing things. If you are looking for an armchair vacation, this might be it.
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on January 21, 2016
Delightful look at Britain in the period from the early 70's to the mid 90's through the eyes of an American Anglophile. Bryson describes a more innocent great age of Britain to a less economically robust time and a more abrasive era. In all his travels in Britain he describes the incomparable physical beauty of the countryside against a backdrop of urban decline. When all is said and done Bryson loves his adopted country passionately and rails against wooly - minded planners and bureaucrats who mismanagement those things which could brutalize Britain further or rectify things and preserve a genteel and beautiful land.
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