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Notes From A Small Island Paperback – 1 Aug 1996

4.2 out of 5 stars 531 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan; New Ed edition (1 Aug. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552996009
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552996006
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (531 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 66,162 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Bill Bryson is an unabashed Anglophile who, through a mistake of history, happened to be born and bred in Iowa. Righting that error, he spent 20 years in England before deciding to repatriate: "I had recently read that 3.7 million Americans according to a Gallup poll, believed that they had been abducted by aliens at one time or another, so it was clear that my people needed me." That comic tone enlivens this account of Bryson's farewell walking tour of the countryside of "the green and kindly island that had for two decades been my home."

Review

"Not a book that should be read in public, for fear of emitting loud snorts" (The Times)

"Laugh-out-loud funny" (The Good Book Guide)

"Splendid... What's enjoyable is that there's as much of Bryson in here as there is of Britain" (Sunday Telegraph)

"Bryson is funny because he is not afraid to give completely of himself" (Daily Express)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
From the moment I picked this book up in WH Smith at Heathrow airport I knew that whatever else happened on my business trip to Istanbul, the journey was already worthwhile.
Bill Bryson has an insightful view of Britain and the British that can only come from living 'among us' for a considerable period.
His understanding of the British people is uncanny and more akin to that of a Brit who has lived in the US for a long time, rather than an American that has lived in Britain.
I spent much of my time while reading the book laughing out loud in public places (which I know is not the done thing for an Englishman - sorry !)
This book asks some of the same qustions I asked when I returned to my native Britain from a period living in the USA.
I finished the book in 2 days and immediately sought out the only English language copy of Bryson's other classic 'Notes from a Big Country' in Istanbul.
But that's another story...
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By H Pedder VINE VOICE on 25 Aug. 2004
Format: Paperback
My friend bought this book for me to read whilst i travelled solo to the USA.As i had a 7 hour wait in NY airport, i got stuck in to this. I'm sure every Newark Airport worker and visitor at that time thought i was a stark raving English loony! This is a hilarious, tongue-in-cheek book which simultaneously made me cringe with embarrassment (yep, we Brits actually DO the things he says) whilst puffing my chest out in pride at being British! Bryson takes the reader on a tour around Britain venturing from one end of the land to the other and I really felt like i was there with him, through the strife and rain (of course). His narrative is informative (i learnt a heck of a lot about my own country...from an American! Of all people!) and comical. He introduces the reader to typical (and not-so-typical) British folk and ponders over such things as the unanswerable question of 'where have all the red telephone booths gone?'. I never realised that i had such a beautiful, diverse land for exploration on my own doorstep. A hilarious, rib-tickling book which literally did have me snorting aloud with laughter (and consequently ducking my head in embarrassment!).Great for reading whilst on your travels.It MAY make you want to come back home...
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Just why 'Notes from a Small Island' is classed as a travel book is beyond me. Reading this book will not tell you the top ten tourist attractions in Aberdeen or the best accommodation in Oxfordshire. This book is a deftly written, toe-curlingly humorous, semi-anthropological analysis of Britain and the British through the eyes of a genuine Anglophile.
From the moment he steps off the ferry and spends the night in a shelter on Dover promenade, Bill Bryson's fascination with all things British becomes a lifetime's work.
Often self-deprecating, openly admiring, occasionally critical. His journey encompasses the inexplicable - e.g. couples sitting outside a beach hut in a gale happily trying to read the Daily Mirror; the mundane - e.g. our collective fondness for small, hard, whitish biscuits; and the glorious - e.g. the staggering vistas of the Yorkshire Dales.
Like a good stand-up impressionist, Bryson again and again finds our defining tics, twitches and mannerisms which make his readers chuckle and wince in recognition. "Oh yes" you'll remark, "we do that don't we."
A lovely book that you'll return to often.
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Format: Paperback
I'd never read any of Bill Brysons books before last week, and have now finished three! I found it easy to empathise with Bill - the places he stayed, the sights he saw, the people he met all sounded frighteningly familiar. Especially when he was visiting places I too have lived in or passed through I just had to keep on reading...did he go to the same awful B&B as I unfortunately stayed in? What did he make of the town I called home for three years? Compulsive reading. Having rapidly read Big Country and Walk in the Woods after this, I can't wait for to start on Down Under. Having also travelled extensively in Oz, I wonder if Bill loved the country as much as I do. I suppose that is the big appeal of these books for me - does somebody else view the world in the same way as I do!
I highly reccommend this book to anyone who has travelled in the UK, is thinking of doing so, or just wants a laugh!
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Format: Paperback
For some reason I always fancied reading a Bill Bryson book but never got around to it - until now. What the heck took me so long??!?!?
This is a funny and I mean FUNNNNY book. It gave me the odd chortle on the bus to a few full belly laughs. He is perceptive and and so very readable. He switchings into the British mentality and our oddments beautifully - and although is often scathing he is never rude or offensive. And in true Brit style we can all have a laugh over a cup of tea.
The way he writes gives me the impression his great love of dear old Blighty, and from the introduction when he first set foots on our Great land he had me in stiches.
This is a real must read and I can't really wait to tackle his other books. Well done Mr Bryson - a book here that really makes me proud to be British!
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Format: Paperback
A wide gulf separates the "travel writer" from those who keep journals of their rambles. The former wishes to entice you to visit the places he's seen - indeed, he's generally paid to accomplish that end. The travel journal is often a pure record of sights, events, people encountered. It is also an honest record of what is experienced. Bill Bryson writes journals of his travels. His accounts are forthright, often with scathing wit, but devoid of malice, even when deeply critical of their subjects. In this book, mainly a walking tour of England, Wales and Scotland, he writes a valedictory to his years in Britain. A delightful read, Notes provides rich entertainment with a serious look at the current British scene.
Bryson deserves full marks for courage. He walks. He covers vast distances in weather that would dismay a seasoned fisherman. He risks his life along wind-blown cliffs, looking down for surf lost in driven fog or slashing rain. No-one wet, cold and hungry can maintain their humour long. Bryson conveys his feelings with honest vigour, but veneers his stress with vivid descriptions of the environment he traverses. He struggles to make sense of British Rail [something even the natives have abandoned hope of achieving], more than once falling back on irregular bus services. He suffers a day's dogleg travel to cover a twenty mile distance because no connecting line exists. Still, he persists and is often enough rewarded to make the effort worth the time. And his descriptions of these events rewards the reader through sharing his reactions yet not pointing an accusatory finger. It's "the system" that's at fault.
As an American from Iowa, Bryson may be relied on to take a detached view of Britain.
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