Notes from a Small Island– Bill Bryson

This post is going to be short. I don’t have much to say about Bill Bryson’s Notes From a Small Island. The storyline is this: Bill Bryson travels around England. Yep, that’s it.

This book was a disappointment for me. It started out really strong and interesting but gets boring after the first few chapters. It’s not that Bryson isn’t a good writer. In fact, that’s probably the only reason I finished this book. However, his stories about his travels aren’t that intriguing. He makes it seem that Britain is the most boring country with the most boring towns. He spends way too much time talking about every train schedule and ride he was on and what the sidewalk and stores looked in each town. And every time you think “wow, this author must hate Britain” he throws in a comment about how much he loves the country. 

Bryson’s personality kind of sucks too. He doesn’t seem like the friendliest traveler. On multiple occasions he freaks out on restaurant personnel for no real reason. One was a McDonald’s worker who asked if he wanted an apple pie. (Side note: I worked at McDonald’s and you have to ask that.) He also makes weirdly mean comments about his wife and women in general. (He also hates on Niagara Falls and since I’m from Western New York and lived in the Falls for four years, I take that a little personally.)

But what really irks me occurred on page 225. And I quote “I’m not much of one for Greek food.” What. The. Hell. Who doesn’t like Greek food?! I know I’m biased being fresh off a recent trip to Greece and having an entire Greek heritage but still, I don’t understand. This was the last straw for me.

And lastly like always…. Do I recommend this book? No. I’m sure there are better books about Britain that properly get one excited for travel to such an exquisite country. Does this make me want to travel to Britain? Again, no. The way he described every single place was grueling and boring. However, I know this to be untrue. I’ve been to London and truly believe Britain has a lot more to offer than what Bryson presents in Notes From a Small Island.


♦♦Culture Bit: A little bit of this, a little bit of that♦♦

At one point during the book, Bryson describes how he stumbles upon a statue of Tarka the Otter. This peaked my curiosity because I love otters. I found out there is a well known book called Tarka the Otter written by Henry Williamson in 1927. I immediately bought it and planned to read it.

But, it was really boring and dense. The book follows the life and death of Tarka. it’s not a kids book either where animals don’t speak. It’s just a book about nature. I think I’ll thumb through it over time. 

On a final note, here are some pictures of my very short weekend in London in 2015. Enjoy!


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