Notes from a Small Island was the second book I finished from the Books and Tea Reading Challenge. It was my ‘I’M DYING TO READ THIS BOOK … yet you haven’t!’ choice, so here’s my review.
Related: New year, New me Challenges
Bryson is a well known name in the travel writing industry: he’s been published in 21 books, spanning travel, science, and language genres, and Notes from a Small Island is one that made him famous in the UK. Bryson nostalgically describes his last explorations of the Great Britain just before he returned to the USA – his birthplace. As a UK travel blogger, this particular book was on my reading list for obvious reasons.
Beginning in Dover, and including a hilarious reference to an unnecessarily pedantic B&B owner, Bryson throws us into his opinion of key locations from his life in the UK with wit and humour. As the text progresses, he moves from England to Wales, and Scotland.
It was first published in 1995, so expect to see some dated references, and some which might make a modern reader cringe. There’s a particular reference to Princess Diana that hasn’t aged well, for example. However, it’s fascinating for a millennial like me to imagine what some of Britain’s famous spaces looked like 25 years (and more) ago. Bryson’s descriptions are so detailed, without being ‘over-descriptive’ that it’s not a difficult task at all.
My favourite additional past-time while reading the Notes from a Small Island was making a ‘I’ve been there’ mental note. Bryson’s description of Bradford isn’t far off what would be my own – sorry Bradford.
I’m glad I saved reading this book to our disrupted summer. Just for a moment, I was able to imagine that the world (or at least Great Britain) was the way it used to be. I’ve found some new locations added to my visit list!