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In a Sunburned Country Paperback – May 15, 2001
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"What the indefatigable, keenly observant Bryson did a few years back for the Applachian Trail with A Walk in the Woods... he does now for the generally undiscovered land Down Under."
"Vastly entertaining... If there is one book with which to get oriented before departure or en route to Australia, this is it."
—New York Times
From the Inside Flap
Every time Bill Bryson walks out the door, memorable travel literature threatens to break out. His previous excursion along the Appalachian Trail resulted in the sublime national bestseller "A Walk in the Woods. "In A Sunburned Country is his report on what he found in an entirely different place: Australia, the country that doubles as a continent, and a place with the friendliest inhabitants, the hottest, driest weather, and the most peculiar and lethal wildlife to be found on the planet. The result is a deliciously funny, fact-filled, and adventurous performance by a writer who combines humor, wonder, and unflagging curiousity.
Despite the fact that Australia harbors more things that can kill you in extremely nasty ways than anywhere else, including sharks, crocodiles, snakes, even riptides and deserts, Bill Bryson adores the place, and he takes his readers on a rollicking ride far beyond that beaten tourist path. Wherever he goes he finds Australians who are cheerful, extroverted, and unfailingly obliging, and these beaming products of land with clean, safe cities, cold beer, and constant sunshine fill the pages of this wonderful book. Australia is an immense and fortunate land, and it has found in Bill Bryson its perfect guide.
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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.
Bill Bryson faces many challenges in the story, such as dealing with annoying people, being forced to stay in shelters that are in bad condition, and his struggles to push himself to finish the vigorous trek. Bill Bryson balances the hardships of this endeavour with comedy in almost every page of the story which makes the book funny to read and strengthens his point of view of the conflicts he encounters. An example of Bryson’s quick wit is shown when he talks about how hikers complain too often about wild animals, “Hunters will tell you that a moose is a wily and ferocious forest creature. Nonsense. A moose is a cow drawn by a three-year-old.” As a Maine resident, I can respect Bryson’s humorous interpretation of a moose, yet most people know there are definitely times this animal should be completely avoided! Bill Bryson’s interpretation of the AT provides valuable information, while his comedic writing style captures your interest, which in turn, makes you laugh.
This book has inspired me to do further research on the AT and motivated me to want to hike it when I am older. Bill Bryson illustrates the problems one may face and in doing so has helped me to understand how I can better prepare for a hike of this magnitude. I would recommend this book to anyone, whether you live in the city and have never hiked before, or to those of us whose passion is conquering peaks in the wilderness.