Notes From A Big Country and over 2 million other books are available for Amazon Kindle . Learn more
Buy Used
FREE Delivery on orders over £10.
Used: Very Good | Details
Sold by the book house
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: This item will be picked, packed and shipped by Amazon and is eligible for free delivery within the UK
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Notes from a Big Country Hardcover – 5 Nov 1998

See all 23 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
£4.89 £0.01

Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition (5 Nov 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385410190
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385410199
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.6 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (152 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 330,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Bill Bryson was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1951. Settled in England for many years, he moved to America with his wife and four children for a few years ,but has since returned to live in the UK. His bestselling travel books include The Lost Continent, Notes From a Small Island, A Walk in the Woods and Down Under. His acclaimed work of popular science, A Short History of Nearly Everything, won the Aventis Prize and the Descartes Prize, and was the biggest selling non-fiction book of the decade in the UK.

Photography © Julian J

Product Description

Amazon Review

"Here's a fact for you. According to the latest "Abstract of the United States", every year more than 400,00 Americans suffer injuries involving beds, mattresses or pillows...That is more people than live in greater Coventry. That is almost 2,000 bed, mattress or pillow injuries a day. In the time it takes you to read this article, four Americans will somehow manage to be wounded by their bedding."
Fans of Bill Bryson will know by now that this is the kind of completely useless information that gets him excited. In fact, you are unlikely to read anyone else who derives quite so much pleasure from meaningless statistics. If those statistics are about the USA (Bryson's homeland) or his adopted England--or even better, comparing one to the other--then he is in heaven. And it is not only the uselessness of the information that interests him, but also the fact that Americans spend millions of dollars and hours each year collecting such data together.

Though not a match for his earlier success of Notes from a Small Island, Notes from a Big Country takes a good second place. It collects together more than 18 months worth of Mail on Sunday columns which Bryson wrote between October 1996 and May 1998 after he and his English wife and children returned to the US and settled in New England. The only thing that outshines his amazement--and sometimes, outright dismay--at the way American society has changed while he's been away, is his English-born family's instant embracing of transatlantic culture.

A word of warning: reading Bill Bryson is not a spectator are invited-- in fact, compelled--to marvel at how the nation that "has the largest economy, the most comfortably off people, the best research facilities, many of the finest universities and think-tanks, and more Nobel Prize winners than the rest of the world put together" could be the same nation where "13 per cent of women...cannot say whether they wear their tights under their knickers or over them. That's something like 12 million women walking around in a state of chronic foundation garment uncertainty." This is Bryson at his best, and though not every column inch hits the heady heights of underwear distribution, there are enough laugh-out-loud moments to keep you satisfied.

Detractors of Bryson's work complain all his books are the same, yet dedicated followers cite that very uniformity of style and subject as the reason they return, book after book. Anyone disappointed by A Walk in the Woods (Bryson's account of hiking the Appalachian Trail and not his best book) will have their faith restored by Notes from a Big Country-- here Bryson returns to his favourite subject and the simple, journalistic prose that makes his wacky facts and observations instantly accessible.

Bryson does not pretend to deliver an intellectual treatise on the state of mankind; instead he offers one man's take on how humanity lurches from one day to another--ironically through the kinds of details he mocks others for collecting. --Lucie Naylor


"One of his best books" (Scott Bradfield Independent)

"Delightful bite-size essays that exude affection while debunking the ridiculous with wonderful succinctness... This is not a book to be read in a single sitting. It is one to be savoured" (Martin Fletcher The Times)

"Bill Bryson's answer to Alistair Cooke's Letter From America...not only hilarious but also insightful and informative" (Jeremy Atiyah Independent on Sunday)

"Bryson is great when explaining the idiosyncracies of America to middle England and making it funny... He is both serious and contemtuously funny" (Guardian) --This text refers to the Mass Market Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse and search another edition of this book.
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Darren Simons TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 7 Oct 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Much as I find myself trying to convince myself otherwise, I'm rather a fan of Bill Bryson books, his style of writing, his choice of places to visit. Notes from a Big Country is a little different to his other books as it's not really a book with a story at all - it's a collection of articles Bryson has written for a national newspaper.
Bill Bryson was born in Iowa, USA, moved to England in the late 70s and then returned "home" with his new family in tow. On his return, he wrote a weekly column for the Mail on Sunday's Night and Day magazine, about, well, pretty much whatever he wanted, and has now put them into a book.
Generally Bryson writes about things he missed from Britain, or things he cannot understand how he managed without - a same selection of topics include TV advert breaks, visiting a movie theater (cinema to you and me), weather and friendliness. Everything is written in the quite unique style of Bill Bryson which means that at times you feel rather sorry for him, and at times even more sorry for his wife!
I chose to read the book continuously which in hindsight I regret - far better to read a bunch of his articles, leave the book for a few weeks, read a few more and so on.
Definitely a recommended read - Bryson at his irrelevant best!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Gavin Jackson on 13 Feb 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Bryson brilliantly combines comic asides with the most serious of subjects. If you like Bryson's dry wit, you'll love this book. At first I didn't like the format (exactly four pages per chapter) but after a while I liked the thought that if I had ten minutes to spare, I could read a chapter. And new chapter, new topic. Brevity at its best.

My only regret is that I missed the columns when they appeared in The Mail on Sunday's Night and Day Magazine. Hope the editor intends to commission more soon.
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By C. M. Perkins on 22 Feb 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read this book before moving to California in 1999. It was a fantastic way to prepare for the culture shock that ensued. I had a great time in the States, largely because I could recognise the absurdity that Bryson talks about.
His unique perspective (American living in Britain, moving back to the US) puts a delightful spin on all the things we Brits make fun of the Americans for. His wonderfully witty writing style is laugh out loud funny - especially beacuse it's all true.
So much American culture is already part of life here in the UK, I would say anyone will identify with this send up of all things from across the pond.
Great travel writing, very humorous and hugely entertaining!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 Sep 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Like the rest of the correspondants have said, this is a fantastic book that will have you laughing out loud. Without a doubt this is my favourite Bill Bryson book so far and is great to dip in and out of as each chapter is only 3/4 pages long and easily read in 5 mins. I can't pickup this book without knocking out 4 chapters and have re-read it on numerous occasions. I still, in moments of quiet reflection, wonder whether they ever found that small plane in the woods ?? Everybody I've leant this book to, has loved it and bought copies themselves or have gone on to buy his other books... I wish I was on commission ! Just buy it, you'll love it !
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sam Anders on 8 Aug 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Bill Bryson has a somewhat unique point of view for writing a book on American life, born in America but living a long time in England before returning to America with his English wife and children. The result was a regular series of newspaper articles (unsure what newspaper) which are collected together here.
The articles are observant, witty, and wonderfully funny. Bryson is so normal and easy to relate to that the articles are infectiously funny, his strange obsessions and neuroses are not only hilarious but also quite sweet and infinitely endearing. His unique take on American life is what really drives the book since there's no continuous narrative of any kind due to the episodic structure.
I can't really describe the book in any particular detail except to say that this is something very funny that more than once an article is guaranteed to cripple you with laughter. You should really give this a try, you won't regret it.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By tiggrie AKA Sarah on 22 April 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
If I'm honest, I was surprised to even find as many negative reviews for this book as I did - so be warned in advance that the adjective "glowing" could have been created for this review!

Where to start? This book is a joy. Bryson, as a native of the US who spent a large chunk of his formative years in the UK, is able to view both cultures from a position that's neither a real outsider nor quite an insider in each

There is no real narrative thread in this book as regular Bryson fans will have been accustomed to finding elsewhere: the format is very specific: a series of articles, written from America, for British readers. I can see how some people view this as a weakness, but in many ways it's a huge plus - it's possible to race through half a dozen "chapters" with ease, but similarly if time is pressing it is very enjoyable just to dip in. It's not really a book so much as a collection of essays/letters, but none the worse for that.

I didn't find the book especially negative about either country: Bryson does confess to having a good complain (sometimes with good reason, having read the trials of his wife and his friends becoming legal citizens, for instance). Generally, however, he is quite willing to poke fun at both the country of his birth and the country he has adopted as a second home with a certain amount of glee, a great deal of affection, and the relative objectivity of a man who belongs exclusively to neither place.

Overall... it made me laugh, time and again. In amongst the giggles, I got a little insight into the differences between the two countries, a few wonderful descriptions of the US (including glowing accounts of New Hampshire's severe-but-beautiful winters), and a vast amount of interest and enjoyment. One I know I shall re-read over and again, and that I can whole-heartily recommend to others.
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Look for similar items by category