Notes on Returning to America After 20 Years Away
by Bill Bryson
I love reading Bryson when I’m traveling. His dry wit and thoughts on travel always seem to hit the spot. This book is a compilation of columns he wrote for a British publication when he returned to live in America with his British wife and kids after years in England. He talks about a wide variety of subjects in America, from the postal service to the abundance of great snack food to the lack of sidewalks. Yes he can be condescending, that’s kind of this thing. It was fun to see how our country looks when explained to another culture.
Bryson has written about everything from entomology to Australia in his books and he always makes his subject matter interesting. No matter what random topic he chose for each column, it still worked well because it contained his trademark blend of sarcasm and genuine enthusiasm.
The book was published in 1999 and I’m guessing most of the columns ran in the years preceding that. Because of this, some things are obviously dated. He talks about new technology like computers as if they are brand new. Those dated elements don’t take anything away from the overall book though.
BOTTOM LINE: My favorite Bryson books remain In aSunburned Country and A Walk in the Woods, but this one was a fun addition. It’s easy to dip into because each chapter stands alone.