I'm a Stranger Here Myself

Monday, July 6, 2015

I'm a Stranger Here Myself
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.


annieb said...

I am a huge Bryson fan myself, and I think I read this quite a while ago, but I have read so many since, I can't be sure. He is a comfort read for me and a starter when I am in a reading slump.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

I like the idea of a column type book from him. Sometimes reading a full work can be a bit too much in terms of sarcasm, but a little bit here and there sounds great. In a way. Ha! I've read the other two you mention plus At Home and have enjoyed all three--look forward to reading more!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

annieb - I love him too. I read Notes from a Small Island while I was living in London and that one really made me fall for his style. I don't think it's his best, but it was just perfect timing for me.

Trish - I loved At Home! He can seriously make any topic interesting.

Meg @ write meg! said...

Ooh, yes -- I definitely want to read this! I read Bryson's A Walk in the Woods almost entirely on a flight home from California last year, and it made for an excellent travel read. I really like his style and narrative voice!

thecuecard said...

Yes I enjoy his books. I have not read this one which sounds good too. I'm sure it has some laughs.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Meg - I love reading his books while I'm traveling!

thecuecard - It's a fun one if you already like his style.