- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Doubleday; 1st edition (January 19, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385539282
- ISBN-13: 978-0385539289
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,458 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #130,511 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain Hardcover – January 19, 2016
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An Amazon Best Book of January 2016: The Road to Little Dribbling comes twenty years after Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Small Island, in which he first described his love affair with his adopted Great Britain. That first book was laugh-out-loud funny, and so is this one. It opens with Bryson describing (hilariously) the perils of growing older, eventually revealing the author’s successful passing of the Life in Britain Knowledge Test (thus, making him a British citizen). The rest of the book follows that pattern: Bryson describes getting older, and he describes Great Britain via a trip he took across the 700 mile long island. While he tried to avoid places he visited in Notes from a Small Island—he does revisit Dover—those who read the first book will enjoy a welcome sense of the familiar—even if Bryson appears to have grown a little more cynical and angry with age. But give the guy a break: the world is changing, even his beloved “cozy and embraceable” island. And as he writes in the book, “I recently realized with dismay that I am even too old for early onset dementia. Any dementia I get will be right on time.” --Chris Schluep
Praise for The Road to Little Dribbling:
"Although he's now entering what he fondly calls his 'dotage,' the 64-year-old Bryson seems merely to have sharpened both his charms and his crotchets. As the title of The Road to Little Dribbling suggests, he remains devoted to Britain's eccentric place names as well as its eccentric pastimes."
—Alida Becker, The New York Times Book Review
"[Y]ou could hardly ask for a better guide to Great Britain than Bill Bryson. Bryson’s new book is in most ways a worthy successor and sequel to his classic Notes From A Small Island. Like its predecessor, The Road to Little Dribbling is a travel memoir, combining adventures and observations from his travels around the island nation with recounting of his life there, off and mostly on, over the last four decades. Bryson is such a good writer that even if you don’t especially go in for travel books, he makes reading this book worthwhile."
—Nancy Klingener, Miami Herald
"...Bryson’s capacity for wonder at the beauty of his adopted homeland seems to have only grown with time.... Britain is still his home four decades later, a period in which he went from lowly scribe at small-town British papers to best-selling travel writer. But he retains an outsider’s appreciation for a country that first struck him as 'wholly strange ... and yet somehow marvelous.”
—Griff Witte, Washington Post
“Such a pleasure to once again travel the lanes and walking paths of Britain in the company of Bill Bryson! He’s a little older now, and not necessarily wiser, but he’s as delightful and irascible a guide as anyone could ever wish to have, as he rediscovers this somewhat careworn land and finds it as endearing (mostly) as ever. It’s a rare book that will make me laugh out loud. This one did, over and over.”
—Erik Larson, author of Dead Wake and The Devil in the White City
"There’s a whole lot of “went to a charming little village named Bloke-on-Weed, had a look around, a cupof tea, and moved on” in Bryson’s most recent toddle around Britain. Writing 20 years after his bestselling Notes from a Small Island, Bryson concocts another trip through his homeland of 40 years bydetermining the longest distance one could travel in Britain in a straight line... This being Bryson, one chuckles every couple of pages, of course, saying, 'yup, that sounds about right,' to his curmudgeonly commentary on everything from excess traffic and litter to rude sales clerks. One also feels the thrum of wanderlust as Bryson encounters another gem of a town or pip of a pub. And therein lies the charm of armchair traveling with Bryson. He clearly adores his adopted country. There are no better views, finer hikes, more glorious castles, or statelier grounds than the ones he finds, and Bryson takes readers on a lark of a walk across this small island with megamagnetism."
—Booklist, starred review
"Fans should expect to chuckle, snort, snigger, grunt, laugh out loud and shake with recognition…a clotted cream and homemade jam scone of a treat."
"At its best as the history of a love affair, the very special relationship between Bryson and Britain. We remain lucky to have him."
—Matthew Engel, Financial Times
"Is it the funniest travel book I’ve read all year? Of course it is."
"We have a tradition in this country of literary teddy bears—John Betjeman and Alan Bennett among them—whose cutting critiques of the absurdities and hypocrisies of the British people are carried out with such wit and good humour that they become national treasures. Bill Bryson is American but is now firmly established in the British teddy bear pantheon... The fact that this wonderful writer can unerringly catalogue all our faults and is still happy to put up with us should make every British reader’s chest swell with pride."
—Jake Kerridge, Sunday Express
"The truly great thing about Bryson is that he really cares and is insanely curious... Reading his work is like going on holiday with the members of Monty Python."
—Chris Taylor, Mashable
"There were moments when I snorted out loud with laughter while reading this book in public... He can be as gloriously silly as ever."
—The London Times
"The observation, the wit, the geniality of Bryson’s inimitable words illuminate ever chapter."
—Terry Wogan, Irish Times
"Everybody loves Bill Bryson, don’t they? He’s clever, witty, entertaining, a great companion... his research is on show here, producing insight, wisdom and startling nuggets of information... Bill Bryson and his new book are the dog’s bollocks."
—Independent on Sunday
"Stuffed with eye-opening facts and statistics..... Bryson's charm and wit continue to float off the page....Recognising oneself is part of the pleasure of reading Bryson's mostly affable rants about Britain and Britishness."
"His millions of readers will probably enjoy this just as much as its predecessor."
"We go to him less for insights—though there are plenty of these—and more for the pleasure of his company. And he can be very funny indeed. Almost every page has a line worth quoting."
"At last, Bill Bryson has got back to what he does best—penning travel books that educate, inform and will have you laughing out loud... I was chuckling away by page four and soaking up his historic facts to impress my mates with. Sure to be a bestseller."
"Bryson has no equal. He combines the charm and humour of Michael Palin with the cantankerousness of Victor Meldrew and the result is a benign intolerance that makes for a gloriously funny read."
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On the other hand, the angry old man stuff gets tiring. His liberal use of the word "idiot" evidences a real inner anger he ought to get under control. A poor government worker just doing their job by enforcing a rule isn't just wrong in Bill's eyes; he is an idiot...some lower being to be scorned for doing his job. It is an attitude the author has, and it is both tiring and troubling.
I finally figured it out, though. I love travel because of the people on the way that I meet. Bill loves travel despite the people on the way that he meets.
Also, often politics enters many of Bill's books but never to this extent. The section on immigration Bill, sadly, embraced a straw man argument to stake out a position no one disagrees with.
Being a logical person myself, seeing this descent into the illogical abyss left me wishing I had read a different book.
Still, it's got 2 stars because there was a lot of interesting information. I've made 6 trips to the UK and I was often taking a new tidbit of info Bill exposed then looking up more information.
My wife is determined to see the Ridley Mounds described in the books. I wonder what future generation will completely misinterpret the structure. This begs the question of how much guessing do we do looking at the many ancient structures. Was it really a super religious site, or someone's fanciful whim, or something in between.
I just found it hard to enjoy the fun information combined with the straw man arguments pushing a liberal perspective yet at the same time bashing the actions of liberal government.
Bill Bryson loves the island of Great Britain as much as I do, as he gave evidence years ago when he published Notes from a Small Island. Since then, I’ve read pretty much everything he’s written and regard him as one of my very favorite writers.
Here, after his publisher suggests that Bill do a sequel to NOTES, the author embarks on the road trip, very loosely following the Bryson Line south to north, that culminates in THE ROAD TO LITTLE DRIBBLING.
Now in his mid-sixties, it’s obvious that Ol’ Bill is turning into a querulous curmudgeon. But, at 68, so am I. However, the proof of the pudding is that England and Great Britain survived this acid test of his fussy inspection. That, to me, is evidence that the country(side) I’ve loved for years has endured since I’ve been away. Bryson writes in THE ROAD TO LITTLE DRIBBLING:
“Nothing – and I mean really, absolutely nothing – is more extraordinary in Britain than the beauty of the countryside. Nowhere in the world is there a landscape that has been more intensively utilized ‒ more mined, farmed, quarried, covered with cities and clanging factories, threaded with motorways and rail-road tracks ‒ and yet remains so comprehensively and reliably lovely over most of its extent. It is the happiest accident in history.”
“Now I am not saying that London is the world’s best city because it had a homosexual brothel scandal or because Virginia Woolf and L. Ron Hubbard around the corner, or anything like that. I am just saying that London is layered with history and full of secret corners in a way that no other city can touch. And it has pubs and lots of trees and is often quite lovely. You can’t beat that.”
“… I thought that when England is lovely there isn’t any place I would rather be.”
Yes. Oh, yes.
With this latest book, I nevertheless must take issue with the author’s narrative on two points and would reduce the stars awarded to four and a half if the rating system allowed.
Within the text for the first time I can recall, Bill reveals his political orientation. For a writer who does not pen politically themed books and appeals to a wide range of readers, this seems pointlessly provocative with the potential of alienating many. Indeed, this looks downright stupid on his part.
Secondly, Bryson uses the F-word on several occasions when expressing his opinion (as opposed to when quoting someone else). Mind you, I’m not offended, just puzzled. While the word often appears in novels and might appear in a heated political essay, for Bill to apparently find it necessary to use it pretty much unnecessarily perhaps indicates mental regression. At 65, Bill, are you now becoming fifteen again? It’s sad that an otherwise master of the language is reduced to gutter talk. I’m just saying.