I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After 20 Years Away
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I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After 20 Years Away

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  35,473 ratings  ·  1,689 reviews
After living in Britain for two decades, Bill Bryson recently moved back to the United States with his English wife and four children (he had read somewhere that nearly 3 million Americans believed they had been abducted by aliens--as he later put it, "it was clear my people needed me"). They were greeted by a new and improved America that boasts microwave pancakes, twenty...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published June 6th 2000 by Broadway Books (first published 1998)
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45th out of 2,776 books — 4,726 voters
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Valerie
Jan 17, 2008 Valerie rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Valerie by: Kelly
As an expat about to return to the US, this book simply wasn't Weird enough for me. It in no way captures my experience of how completely absurd the US feels upon returning after an extended absence.

Obsessions with skinny white girls named Jessica; the unbelievable noise, especially from radio and TV; un-ending ads for stuff on sale (which exist in other places, but when it's in another language, I just tune it out); the fact that no one walks anywhere; the enormous bodies(quitting smoking mayb...more
Mia Friel
This is the first Bill Bryson book I have read, which, I am told, was a mistake. I know several people who consider Bryson one of their favorite authors and they all seem to agree that this book is not a good "ambassador" for the rest of his work.

This book is a collection of newspaper articles that document his move from England to the United States. Most of them explain his bewilderment toward American culture and customs and often longs for the "simplicity" of the British lifestyle. I was ori...more
Az
Bill Bryson grew up in Iowa, then spent twenty years in England. He has returned to the U.S. with his British wife and children. I'm a Stranger Here is selections from his newspaper column which chronicles his experiences. Some of them are funny, like "Dying Accents" and "The Best American Holiday". Others, particularly anything is which he tries to mock the writing style on instructional booklets, electronics, the government (I'm all for mocking the government, but he just doesn't do it well),...more
Emily
I read this several years ago, so I have no idea what it was about. But I do know that I have LOVED every Bill Bryson book that I have ever even seen, let alone read.

I think Bill Bryson is very cool. I'd like him to be my neighbor. He could write stories about me. Like "I have this neighbor who stands in her garden and chats with her plants. She introduces the new ones when they arrive. She asks everybody how they are doing and if they are thirsty. Boy, she sure is a great lady." Ok, I don't re...more
Colin
I rated this a little lower than other books by Bryson because it shows the constraints of being a collection of newspaper columns, written to a length limit and a deadline. That said, there were some real gems in the mix. The column about re-learning an adult vernacular (spackle? Polyfiller?) was good for a laugh - at the time, I was struggling with the same thing over infants' paraphernalia (diaper? nappy?) because despite having lived in the US for years, I hadn't had to use those words since...more
Sarah
Mar 10, 2010 Sarah rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2010
I always really want to love Bill Bryson, but never can quite get there, he's like the best friend you want to fall in love with, but just doesn't have the magic. Usually I get about halfway or even (on a good day) three-quarters of the way through his books and I start to find him annoying or repetitive. This, I had less issue with...as it's a collection of his newspaper columns, so they're short vignettes, and difficult to get tired halfway through. Also, I read this one sporadically over seve...more
Cara
This is the first Bill Bryson book I have read and I found it laugh out loud funny. My husband was given it as a christmas gift and when he started reading it kept reading bits out to me because he thought they were so funny. We gave up on that approach and started reading it together and both loved it. Some of that might have been that we have just moved back to Australia from the US and enjoyed the reminders of some of the more quirky aspects of US culture that we miss, and also could relate t...more
Alkatraz
A wonderfully poignant collection of Bryson's published news paper article. After twenty years in England, where he married and had his children, Bryson returns to America to an interesting version of culture shock. We follow him over a few years worth of articles as he reeducates himself with the strange ways of Americana. Everything from a day at the beach to children leaving the nest, Bryson shows us his world, both intimate and familiar.

His style is humorous and quirky, a lovely mix. You ca...more
Robert Beveridge
Bill Bryson, I'm a Stranger Here Myself (Broadway Books, 1999)

At funtrivia.com, one of the (many) ways a quiz can go from a relatively high ranking to "very poor" between the time I start and the time I finish is a factual error that causes me to get a question wrong. Research is a beautiful thing.

Half of me is willing to give Bill Bryson the benefit of the doubt; the other half is ready to excoriate him on what may be a false impression. I'll attempt to keep it reserved.

Bryson's column "The Was...more
Cecily
If you like reading brief, amusing but unrelated snippets about the oddities of life, this may be the book for you. There’s nothing very original in it, but some readers no doubt enjoy the empathy of saying “Oh, I’ve always thought that too”.

It’s a collection of short articles written for a weekly British news magazine about adapting to life in the US, after 20 years living in Britain – comparing the two countries and comparing the US of his youth with the version he now finds himself in. And gu...more
Janel
Today I had a doctor's appointment and that is when I remembered I am also reading this book. It is a series of humorous columns written by the author detailing his experience returning to the US. It makes for quick reading and is good when I am somewhere busy like a waiting room or airport.

Well, it took several doctor's appointments and a hospital stay but I finally finished the book. The time it took me to read is no reflection on the quality of the book. Bryson is an outstanding writer. I can...more
Kim
I thought this book had a lot of over assuming and generalizations; I didn't feel that Bryson's opinions had a lot of data to support them. Clearly he had not ventured to the parts of the USA that still have a slew of diners, motels and bed and breakfasts. His attempts at humor were far reaching and, while occasionally amusing, for the most part, dull. The parts about his children were touching. I don't understand why this particular guy got paid to share his views of America; there was nothing...more
Arni Vidar Bjorgvinsson
Bill Bryson moves back to America after living in England for 20 years, and writes a weekly column for the two first years wherein he described every day things and events in his life. Later he turned these columns into a book, and called it "I'm a Stranger Here Myself"

I would recommend this book to anyone, but especially to those that have (like me) traveled to America and found it amazing and wonderful and strange and awful, all at the same time. Also, if you possibly can, do try to find the A...more
Eva
Started out very charming, but started to get old. Some kindle highlights:

It is disconcerting to find yourself so simultaneously in your element and out of it. I can enumerate all manner of minutiae that mark me out as an American—which of the fifty states has a unicameral legislature, what a squeeze play is in baseball, who played Captain Kangaroo on TV. I even know about two-thirds of the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner,” which is more than some people know who have sung it publicly. But se...more
Clara
I'm a Stranger Here Myself (published as Notes from a Big Country in the UK) is the only thing I've read by Bryson, yet I'm confident declaring that absolutely anything else he has written is probably better. I typically don't finish the books I would give one star, but this is fast reading and all I had at poolside one day. While I found this text borderline reprehensible, I suspect Bryson's work in general might even be good; but this isn't. Here are some of my problems: half the essays read l...more
emily
Contains such fascinating tidbits as:
VCRs: Needlessly complicated!
Americans: Friendlier, fatter than Brits!
Kids these days: not what they used to be!

And yet I chuckled on nearly every page. So sue me.
Books Ring Mah Bell
my god. i am in love. that combo of common sense, smart ass remarks and intellect i cannot resist. sexy.

not quite done with it, but sure it's a solid 4 star book.

(as opposed to a liquid or gas 4 star book.)
Nate
Oct 02, 2013 Nate rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: humor
I came to love Bill Bryson during the many times I've read A Short History of Nearly Everything and loved not only his complete explanation of things, but his lighthearted way of doing it. This book was different in that it was a collection of articles he had written during the late 90's. At first I detected the same whimsical wording that I loved from the earlier book. The self deprecating humor fit my own style. But the more I read, the less I saw Bryson as a humble bumbler I could relate to,...more
Andrew Breslin
Bill Bryson is always a delight, and this one proved even more delightful than most. Those familiar with his breezy, pithy style will find this brimming with all the breeze and pith they have come to expect. He has an uncanny knack for pointing out the absurdities that surround us, to make people stop and think, if only for a moment, and make them laugh at the same time, ameliorating the painful sting that normally accompanies any arduous thinking. What makes it even better is that the essays in...more
Lennie
Bill Bryson is an American who grew up in Des Moines, Iowa. As a young adult he moved to England and after twenty years of living there, he decided to move back to the United States. Coming home after being away for so many years left him feeling out of touch. He discovered that during his absence, America had gone through a lot of changes and improvements. He was grateful for the many conveniences that made life easier and enjoyed household items such as refrigerators that dispense ice cubes, w...more
Adam
I've read or read parts of two other Bryson books, and I found this to be inferior to both of them, which was a disappointment, considering that learning what foreigners (or quasi-foreigners, in Bryson's case) think about the U.S. is one of my favorite subjects. It's not one unified narrative, but a compilation of columns he wrote for a British newspaper about his life when he returned to the U.S. after spending 20 years abroad. Bryson's breezy, casual style is easy and fun to read, but there ar...more
Amanda
Bill Bryson has the rare knack of being out of his depth wherever he goes - even (perhaps especially) in the land of his birth. This became all too apparent when, after nearly two decades in England, the world's best-loved travel writer upped sticks with Mrs Bryson, little Jimmy et al. and returned to live in the country he had left as a youth.

Whether discussing the dazzling efficiency of the garbage disposal unit, the exoticism of having your groceries bagged for you, the jaw-slackening direnes...more
Robertisenberg
I think Bill and I would make good friends, and I certainly won't judge his personality on this book. There's nothing worse than an author who makes jokes for the sake of making jokes, and "I'm a Stranger" is fat with needless hyperbole. The quotes and stories aren't real -- they're clearly exaggerated for the sake of wit, undermining every word of this ridiculous book. Friends have recommended "Stranger" for years, citing its amusing indictment of American consumerism; but Bryson lives around D...more
Elizabeth Wright Korytkowski
I have kept reading Bill Bryson, however after this book I think I'm going to have to admit that he's something akin to winter snow: the first one is magical and fantastic, and then after that it all just goes downhill.

Bill Bryson has never been able to recreate the excellence of "A Walk in the Woods"- which was the first book of his that I read. That book blew me away- witty, thoughtful, entertaining, and dreamily wonderful. Probably one of the best books I've read these past 10 years. So I so...more
Regency Girl
Although I did find the humor a bit over the top in places, it didn't stop me from thoroughly enjoying this book. It is laugh-out-loud funny at times. The fact that I spent an extended period living across the pond myself just made the book that much funnier to me, as I found myself nodding (and laughing) and saying "Yep. So true" to many of Bryson's observations.
Adam
Bryson is a great observer of contemporary life and a supremely funny writer. His unmatched word choice, transparent exaggeration and Anglo-Iowan viewpoint will always resonate with me.

This collection, however, is unnecessarily crippled by its format; brief dispatches for a weekly column in England. For one, his best material shows up in the earlier articles (when the concept was fresh), and by the end, the articles are a little more second-rate. Secondly, too many articles end on some trite on...more
YiShun
This is a Bryson book. It is funny and it has its laugh-out-loud moments, but, as it's only a collection of essays from his stint writing for a London paper on life back in the U.S., it lacks the deep research, and Bryson's absolute capability to decipher that into readable, digestible language, that makes a Bryson book such a good read.
These are super fun essays. They're not meant to be read straight through; don't do it this way. If you do, you'll find yourself getting bored with his literary...more
Logophile
At times, I was laughing so hard I could barely breathe while reading a couple of these essays. Bryson amuses me a great deal.

Though I lived in Italy only three years, rather than Bryson's 20 in England, that experience has fundamentally shifted my perspective on some peculiarities of American life and I found myself nodding appreciatively regarding some of Bryson's observations.

I found his attitude about his native land in this book so much more appealing than in Lost Continent, his travelogue...more
emi Bevacqua
In Bill Bryson's collection of essays written for publication in a British paper, based on his relocation to the States after 20 years in England, he pokes fun equally well at Brits and Yanks, and had me in tears I laughed so hard. Every time somebody gave me a look for bursting out in laughter inappropriately I recommended the book to them. Originally written in 1999, there are bits which haven't aged well (regarding technology mostly) but still so way much worth reading anyhow - even just for...more
Ryan Newfell
I find myself quoting facts and stories from this book so much that I should be citing Bill Bryson is conversation.
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Bill Bryson was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1951. He settled in England in 1977, and worked in journalism until he became a full time writer. He lived for many years with his English wife and four children in North Yorkshire. He and his family then moved to New Hampshire in America for a few years, but they have now returned to live in the UK.

In The Lost Continent, Bill Bryson's hilarious first t...more
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“Of all the things I am not very good at, living in the real world is perhaps the most outstanding.” 173 likes
“Take a moment from time to time to remember that you are alive. I know this sounds a trifle obvious, but it is amazing how little time we take to remark upon this singular and gratifying fact. By the most astounding stroke of luck an infinitesimal portion of all the matter in the universe came together to create you and for the tiniest moment in the great span of eternity you have the incomparable privilege to exist.” 42 likes
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