I love Bill Bryson’s books. There are very few times when I find myself laughing out loud when reading, but I did so countless time when reading this one. After all, what else can you do when reading, “My father, who like all dads sometimes seemed to be practicing for a World’s Most Boring Man competition,” I’m laughing already by the way, “used to have the habit…of identifying and commenting on the state of origin of all the other cars on any highway we happened to be traveling along” (133), other than laugh uproarisly? Of course, if you are on the subway when reading doing so may be less than ideal, but no less of a unique occurrance.
I was drawn to this book not only because I love Bryson’s writing style, but also because I’m interested in reading mostly anything written about the differences between England and America . Now, I’ve only been living in England for a year and half, much less than the two decades that Bryson spent there before returning to America when this book was written, but there are certain aspects of England that already feel more familiar than there American counterparts. The washing machines, banks, letting agencies, grocery shopping; they’re all things that I’ve done for the first time in England and don’t really know how to approach in the US. Bryson may not mention those things particularly, but what he does choose to point out is no less interesting.
The grocery store, for instance is a good example. Bryson discusses the unique mega-ness of the American grocery store through his own experience eating the strange products they offer. Sure, he may not be directly giving you a lesson on the differences between Waitrose and Whole Foods, but reading about his adventures avoiding eating a breakfast pizza is even more entertaining.
It doesn’t stop there, though. The entire book is filled with Bryson’s witty observations on life in general. While I was a bit taken aback to realize that this book doesn’t have a linear plot like A Walk in the Woods, it’s simply a collection of a column written for a British audience, I enjoyed the controlled length and focus of each section. If you enjoy reading about culture in general or enjoy Bryson’s unique outlook, I’m certain you will find I’m a Stranger Here Myself to be a fun reading experience.
Do you have a favorite author? If so, who? If not, why?