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  1. This is subtitled 'The summer when America changed the world' which is perhaps stretching it a bit (but nothing like so much as James Fox's recent series on BBC4 about years in cities that changed the world) but there's no doubt that it was a momentous summer in America. To start with Lindburg flew across the Atlantic and a decision was made that would lead inexorably to the Wall Street crash. Less world shattering (if you weren't American) Babe Ruth set a record and Jack Dempsey had his last and most famous fight. And there's lots more. Prohibition (some really startling facts there), the development of television, the proliferation of radio, Al Capone, Mount Rushmore, the Klu Klux Clan, possibly America's laziest and most laid back president.... As usual Bryson gathers together a whole lot of disparate strands and weaves them together - the constant strands running through the book are Lindburg's flight and the unwanted fame that came after and Babe Ruth's astonishing year - and manages to tell you a whole lot in a light, informative way. There is a lot about baseball which might put some people off, but as a resolute non-sports fan I still enjoyed those parts. It isn't as laugh-out loud funny as some of his other books though there's quite enough of his asides and comments to keep a smile on your face.
  2. looking for travel books in the bill bryson vein
  3. Bryson's family home was built in 1851 by a Mr Marsham, a clergyman based in Norfolk. Bryson's goal is to journey around the rooms of that house, examining the history of each, but focussing on the period around the time the house was built. What is billed as a history of the 'home' quickly turns into the type of discussion you get the feeling Bryson likes. He starts with the Great Exhibition, which started in 1851, and moves onto such arresting topics as corsets, Darwin's voyage on the Beagle, architecture, domestic dynamics, childbirth, agriculture and diet, archaeology and a range of other topics. This was an ideal read on a long plane journey.
  4. Up until recently I have not like Bryson's writing. However, The Thunderbolt Kid, his autobiography, changed that. This book has further increased my appreciation of his writing skill. If anyone wanted to have a quick overview of the life and times and works of William Shakespeare, this would be a great starting point. A slim volume of just 200 pages it is packed with pertinent information in a succinct and easily read manner. Not the tongue-in-cheek or very jokey manner of some of his works I've attempted to read, but in a serious but light hearted way. Divided into sections about Shakespeare's early life, the lost years of his youth, his time in London, his plays (though not in detail), his years of greatness, the reign of King James and his death (including of course his famous Will). It is all there, every last detail. Bryson seems to have scoured libraries and collections around the world and reduced it to a handy book of reference. Edit: Quoted the wrong autobiography at the top of this thread. Apologies to all. I am not quite senile yet, but getting there by degrees.
  5. I don't like Bryson's writing style. I have always said this since I tried to read Notes from a Small Island and felt his humour at my country's expense was not worth my eyesight. So, being asked to read this for a RG brought forth vitriolic condemnation from me in spades. Having read this I had to return to the group and eat humble pie! This book is seriously funny. In fact, I am almost ashamed to say, I laughed out loud many times. It is an interesting format with each chapter starting with a newspaper quote and a photograph from the family album. Both Bryson's parents wrote for newspapers, so the pattern fits. In fact there is a lot about the parents and their lives as much as Bryson's. He had an older brother and sister, but they didn't seem to impinge on his life so much. For me the fact that Bryson grew up in the 1950s, albeit in American, was of great interest. This was my growing up era too (though not in America of course) and I am a little older than him. I was fascinated to read about all the consumer goods that were available in the States at that time. How there seemed to be so much food to choose from. Whereas my memory of that time is the complete opposite. Bryson turns himself into an imagined super hero to cope with growing up adding that element of humour to every story. I have modified my view of Mr. Bryson's writing. My next venture through his words will be his slim volume entitled Shakespeare. I am looking forward to being thoroughly entertained again.
  6. Mother Tongue - Bill Bryson – 1990 I like Bill Bryson's travel books. He has also written a few about language and they are just as good and funny. Having learned English as a foreign language myself, I found a lot of information, though I am sure anybody with English as a mother tongue might find it even more interesting. I started this thread before the crash but it has disappeared.
  7. Momo

    Down Under

    Rescued Thread: Bill Bryson - Down Under (UK) - In a Sunburned Country (US) - 2000 cummycummins 8th July 2006 09:51 PM Down Under I am currently reading this book. I am only finished two chapters. So far I think it is great. It is all that I expected it to be. Brysons trademark humour is ever present and I love it. What did all of you think of this book. Is it his best or worst book or neither. Share your thought's hear. Please use spoler tags if you think that you will reveal something that happens later on in this book. ----------------------------------------------- Momo 15th July 2006 08:08 PM I love Bill Bryson, so I loved this one. My favourite of all is "Notes from a Small Island" though I don't share that feeling with most Brits. I lived on the gorgeous British Isle as a foreigner, same as Bill Bryson and loved this country and its inhabitants, same as Bill Bryson. Therefore, I probably thought it was the best. I have never been to Australia but having read his book I feel I almost have. ----------------------------------------------- pollyblue 19th September 2006 11:37 PM I adore Bill Bryson. He has the sharpest wit. I think Ive read almost all his books but it was a long time ago so I dont remember the titles. I love the one where he moves back to the US after years of living in england, maybe notes from a big country, also, his tale of trekking the apalachian trail which had me in stiches. Any recommendations gratefully received. Becky ----------------------------------------------- Momo 21st September 2006 01:21 PM Have you tried his language books? They are not as funny compared to his travel books but just as brilliant?
  8. Bill Bryson - Troublesome Words - 1997 I can't think of any other author who fits this description better than Bill Bryson. The latest book I read is Troublesome Words. A great reference book for any questions you might have about the English language, even if it is your mother tongue. Read it, it's great!(thread first started 07.05.06)
  9. Bill Bryson describes himself as a reluctant traveller, but even when he stays safely at home he can’t contain his curiosity about the world around him. A Short History of Nearly Everything is his quest to understand everything that has happened from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization – how we got from there, being nothing at all, to here, being us. The ultimate eye-opening journey through time and space, revealing the world in a way most of us have never seen it before. RRP: £8.99, <a href ="http://www.thebookplace.com/bookplace/spring2005.asp?CID=BGO733" TARGET="_blank">The Book Pl@ce</a> Price: £6.29 Just click on book jacket: <a href="http://www.thebookplace.co.uk/bookplace/display.asp?ISB=0552997048&CID=BGO733"TARGET="_blank"><IMG SRC=""></A>
  10. For reading all those biographies of scientists and picking out the interesting bits. Scientifically, this book is not telling me anything new, but I know very little about the people who did all the work and also, I've discovered, little about what was discovered when. So I'm pleased that I have a book to tell me all that. I'm astounded to discover in how many cases the wrong person has got the credit for a big breakthrough.
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