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Icons of England

3.3 of 5 stars 3.30  ·  rating details  ·  326 ratings  ·  36 reviews
This celebration of the English countryside does not only focus on the rolling green landscapes and magnificent monuments that set England apart from the rest of the world. Many of the contributors bring their own special touch, presenting a refreshingly eclectic variety of personal icons, from pub signs to seaside piers, from cattle grids to canal boats, and from village ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published April 1st 2010 by Black Swan
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,108)
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Great for the bath.

The most interesting entries in this book are those that expand on a common but unremarkable feature of England or those that provide a slice of history, or background detail. The best of them - on pub signs, on chalk horses, on the Green Man - had me scouring the web (/Wikipedia) for more information afterwarsd. Even the entry on London sewers was interesting.

As you'd expect with an anthology, not all the entries were good. Many authors described their childhood experiences a
94 pieces about the woods, the downs, the heaths, the marrows, the crags, the moors, the orchards, the cider farms, the brecklands, the grasslands, and the marshlands; evensongs, stand-alone trees, hares, protean shapes, cherries, summer fêtes; village spires, stiles, pub signs, churchyards, red postboxes, arboretums, and monuments; holloways, hedgerows, drystone walls, estuaries, broads, water meadows, cattle grids, sheepfolds, English country houses, and milestones; Nimbys, ploughmen, family b ...more
Jarek Piórkowski
As a collection of 90+ short essays, this book was frustratingly uneven. Not just in writing styles and awkwardly wrapped-up stories, but as far as in the definition of Rural England itself. It is a small part of England that Twickenham ("the urban village" - we're not London we swear), Kew Gardens ("two minutes from Tube"), Euston Arch, and Hampstead Heath on one end and the most remote moors on the other don't cover.

Too many stories were about banal, obvious, uninteresting, or not particularly
Sara Q
May 23, 2011 Sara Q marked it as to-read
Recommended to Sara Q by: Margaret Atwood
Shelves: travel, non-fiction
Discovered from this tweet: RT @MargaretAtwood If you like rambling & exploring, you'll love Icons of England (ed. Bill Bryson), Black Swan Press. Treasure trove of wonderful places.
Braisona grāmata, nelasīta man mājās nostāvēja veselus trīs gadus. Tas tā nebūtu noticis, ja vien Braisons būtu tās autors, nevis tikai sastādītājs. Grāmatas ideja ir pavisam jauka, daudzi desmiti, Anglijas rakstnieku, katrs uzrakstījuši īsu stāstiņu, par viņuprāt Anglijas galveno ikonu. Ko tādu, kas varētu iekrist sirdī ne tikai viņiem, bet arī citiem. Un tā pa visiem saprastu, ka būtu labi Anglijas laukus atstāt tādus kādi viņi ir.

Kādam tas ir lauku ceļš, citam purvs, putnu dziesmas vai ķieģeļ
Janet Gardner
This was a sadly disappointing book. I picked it up because the wonderful Bill Bryson edited it, and I hoped his mark on it would be strong. I kept reading because there were a few gems among these short essays (like, maybe 4 or 5 of the 90+), and I kept hoping for another. But so many of them were just little verbal rambles that amounted to little more than "Sports fields are nice because people play sports on them!" or "Aren't clouds rather nifty?" or something equally uninteresting, and gener ...more
I let this pass me by when it first came out. I think Mr Bryson had got himself involved with a number of slight though agreeable as ever projects around that time, or just lots of things, I forget, and I wasn't in a particular hurry for another.

I am glad I didn't pass up this opportunity though. This version is not the 'lavish coffee table' version but has more entries. What it lacks in what I assume is gorgeous photography in the other is (almost) made up for by exquisite little black and whit
Gary E
not what I expected but very enjoyable

I did not read anything about the book before I requested that my library purchase it. I saw it was by Bill Bryson and that was enough for me! Well it turns out that this was edited by Bill Bryson and it was written by roughly 100 people a few pages at a time. So it was not at all what I expected!

But it was extremely enjoyable. I laughed out loud in places and I got nostalgic in others and teary eyed in others. It is a wonderful book about what various peopl
Great read if you're a nostalgic, anglophile like me
Kelly Mander
This is entirely my own fault for asking for this book as a gift at Christmas and not doing my research first. I saw 'Bill Bryson' on the cover, assumed he was the author and thought "I can't go wrong!". Unfortunately it is not written by him and the marketing of this book as 'Edited by Bill Bryson' had the publishers desired effect and duped me into acquiring it! I would never desire to read about Balscombe viaduct, Soggybottom Copse or Ruddyshank Reservoir because I have never been there and t ...more
Grant Trevarthen
I noticed, that Bill Bryson, one of my top 5 favorite Authors,edited this book, and any book, he would be involved with I would read. Knowing that
Prince Charles, The Prince Of Wales wrote the forward sealed the deal.
Even though, I was born, bred, and still live in N.Z,my ancestors on my
father's side of the family came from Cornwall, in the Southwest of England. Added to that fact, I always have been & always will be devoted
I loved the way, that the book was made up of contributi
This book was compiled to show off England’s hidden treasures — things that most people wouldn’t glance twice at, but that make England, well, England. The royalties for the book support the Campaign to Protect Rural England, of which Bryson is the president. As with most books of essays, this one had some that I liked a lot and quite a few that were completely unmemorable. Most fell somewhere in between — a nice little diversion but nothing special. Each essay was short — between 1 and 3 pages, ...more
I haven't actually finished this book yet, but I've bogged down. I'm certain I'll return to it. I've enjoyed what I've read, though some of it is quite difficult to follow if one has not already visited some of the sites discussed in the book. The book is obviously intended for British readers, in the manner of, for example, the owner of a Ford watching Ford commercials and being convinced that he or she has made the correct decision in buying the Ford. It does make those of us who have not visi ...more
So, this book is by no means a "page turner" in the sense that you can't put it down, but it is a beautiful collection of odes to random lovely things that make England what it is. Famous literary figures, actors, journalists, and even Prince Charles himself, are humbled to wrote about things like fence posts, mailboxes, small country towns, fells, cliffs, corner shops, and the list goes on. Each snippet is about 2 pages and expounds on the simple beauty that comprises England. And how incredibl ...more
A truly great collection of essays on England, a delight to read. I would recommend this book to all.
Meredith Walker
As a big Bill Bryson fan, I bought "Icons of England" purely because it has his name on the cover (and yes, I know it is edited by, rather than written by Bill). Unfortunately it is disappointing. Some articles, I liked a lot but largely they were completely unmemorable, short on fact and long on reminiscing about the past. As such I suggest they are perhaps only really of interest to their writers. The articles' only saving grace is that each is very short, allowing the reader to quickly skip t ...more
A little uneven, even uninspiring in places, but still a pretty good way to while away a few hours.
Michael Moseley
A collections of essays from a huge number of contributors writing about their icons of England. Lovely insight into different things that are important top people from village cricket to the English weather. The book makes me want to find out even more and certainly visit some of the places and lookout for the sites. How privileged we are to live in such an age where we have time, money a means to access and enjoy plus celebrate England, the English and Englishness.
Apr 25, 2010 Meg rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: read-10
A collection of short - mostly two page - pieces about England. Quite sweet for the most part but does suffer from a bit of NIMBYism, which, well, when Prince Charles is writing the foreword, is not unexpected but remains somewhat annoying. This is also a bit of England as she ever will be, which as an expat, can be somewhat grating.
Mathieu Marechal
I’ve read all of Bill Bryson’s books, this one is basically the only one that I didn’t really enjoy. This is probably due to the fact that it’s not written by Bill but by about 90 co-authors each writing a few pages each. I’m not too much a fan of this format + it made me really miss Bryson’s wit and humour.
This book was bought for me as I like Bill Brysons writing style. His name is boldly emblazoned on the cover with the small words 'edited by' above it.

This collection of short essays about some of England's idiosyncrasies contains some interesting points - but let's face it, it's no Bill Bryson!

About 40 short short essays on various aspects on England. They say they're Icons but most of them don't seem like it to me, they are aspects, mainly. Countryside, flora, fauna, vistas, weather. Most of them are ok, maybe 20% are quite interesting. The book is mainly a fund raiser
Mary Ann
Nice collection of mini essays about the quintessentially English things. I just felt that it was a bit long and not for me. Also British and English are not interchangeable... So in a book all about English-ness there should not be mentions of other British places.
Reading this gorgeous book was like taking a walk down memory lane! The photographs of eclectic British icons of the countryside are lovely. What makes this book truly special are the essays accompanying the photographs which are very meaningful & enjoyable to read.
Well, it turns out this is a collection of little essays about British things by different authors, and only edited by Bill Bryson. The little essays are perfectly fine, but I was looking for some hot Bryson action, so no mas.
Kiwi Sarah
Enjoyable set of choices by a wide range of contributors which personalise the picture of English life and which mirror some of my feelings about things that make England a special place to be.
Carol Rogers
A delightful selection of essays by well known (and not so well known) celebrities written to amuse and delight those of us with nostalgic views of an England we remember and cherish.
Bryson just writes the intro to this book of small essays on obscure places in England. Maybe if you're an Anglophile you'd like it but I found it boring.
Some interesting bits. Some boring bits. Interesting, though, what other people think of as "icons of England." Have my own list that didn't alway coincide.
Jemima Ford
Lovely vignettes to do with quintessential English icons and culture. I especially enjoyed it because I love reading about the country I'm from.
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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.

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