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The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain

(Notes from a Small Island #2)

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  22,980 ratings  ·  3,659 reviews
The hilarious and loving sequel to a hilarious and loving classic of travel writing: Notes from a Small Island, Bill Bryson’s valentine to his adopted country of England

In 1995 Bill Bryson got into his car and took a weeks-long farewell motoring trip about England before moving his family back to the United States. The book about that trip, Notes from a Small Island, is up
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Hardcover, 380 pages
Published January 19th 2016 by Doubleday (first published October 8th 2015)
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Brendan Heneghan No, it is not necessary to read it. It is an observational tour through Great Britain in Bryson's inimitable style. I did think that he came across as…moreNo, it is not necessary to read it. It is an observational tour through Great Britain in Bryson's inimitable style. I did think that he came across as an old curmudgeon. He also was not happy with the progress that has occurred in Britain in the pat 30 years, rightfully focusing on some of the problems that arise in struggling cities, increased traffic and modern life. However, he clearly speaks from the position of a "have" and not a "have not". I do find his appreciation for the quirky and for the forgotten who have contributed greatly to society to be eminently readable and interesting as well.(less)

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3.70  · 
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 ·  22,980 ratings  ·  3,659 reviews


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Melanie Baker
Oct 17, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comedy, fiction
Basically?

Old man yells at cloud

But swap in the UK for "cloud".

I've read all of Bryson's other stuff, far as I recall. I have greatly enjoyed it. I laughed so hard at parts of In a Sunburnt Country that I could scarcely breathe.

But this? This is a rambling, crotchety old coot, and not in a good way. There are love poems to verdant landscapes and well-designed museum spaces. But then there are rants against stuff like stupidity that are pretty much complete non sequiturs. There are sections about a single museum lon
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Diane
Hello, Mr. Bryson! It's been a while. Lovely to hear from you again. I must admit I got overly excited last year when I learned that you were writing your first travel memoir in years, and it was going to be about your adventures in England. I love England! I loved your earlier book about England, Notes from a Small Island, and, now that we're chatting, I can honestly say that I've enjoyed all of your books. (Although my favorites are that charming one about Australia and that one on hiking the ...more
beentsy
Nov 09, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This was not fun. It was like travelling 'round Great Britain with my rather grumpy father in law who only wants to talk about how good things used to be and how crappy things now are.
Scott Nicoll
Nov 01, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
By far and away Bill Bryson's worst book. It should be called Notes from Southern England. It takes over half the book to get past Birmingham. Wales gets about a chapter, Scotland gets about 10 pages, most of them on a train. The whole thing reads like a half arsed cash in for the 20th anniversary of notes from a small island. Bryson grumbles his way around the South of England, moaning about prices and being as classist as possible. Throw in some casual transphobia and you've got yourself a rea ...more
Diane S ☔
Jul 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 What can I say? Bryson fans know exactly what they are getting when they pick up one of his books. A bit of history, information, Bryson's thoughts and feelings on said information and history. A good bit of humor, self-deprecating, ironic and at times laugh out loud funny. A good combination and that has worked well for him for many years. He shares the arcane, the personal and the irreverent. My one piece of advice: If one is ever fortunate to meet this man in person do not go with him to ...more
Phrynne
Nov 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bill Bryson represents himself in this book as a grumpy old man and it is frequently hilarious although occasionally verging on the very edge of political correctness. He's does write incredibly well and I found myself reading passages out loud to anyone who would listen and share it with me. He wanders between laugh out loud funny and information packed passages with ease and maintained this readers interest nearly all the way through. Just a little loss of concentration towards the very end wh ...more
BlackOxford
Jul 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: british, american
Woodsman Spare That Country

Bill Bryson is the stand-up comedian of travel writing. The Road to Little Dribbling is an update on his first act, Notes From a Small Island, of 20 years before. The style of loving sarcasm is the same. With the narrative sense of David Sedaris and the one-liner punch of Jackie Mason, he renews one's faith yet again in the raw wit and humour available in Britain and most importantly the British willingness to apply that wit and humour to themselves. It is impossible t
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Louise Culmer
Bill Bryson's rather peevish follow up to his hugely successful book 'Notes from a Small. Island'. here again he travels around britain (mostly England) visting a variety of places. Some places, he likes, some he has his knife into. For instance, he hasn't a good word to say for Dover, which is odd considering his alleged interest in history. You would think he might at least mention Dover's huge and spectacular castle, or the wonderful museum with its stunning Bronze Age boat, or even the Roman ...more
Riku Sayuj
A Bill Bryson book will rarely let you down. It is a reliable companion if you want to have a jolly time. That said, this book cannot avoid comparison with one of Bryson's best - Notes from a Small Island.

According to my calculations, laugh-out-loud moments in More Notes clocks in at around 0.264 that of the Original Notes.

This book is more like a long afterword to the original, but if Bryson has more to say about any place, even if a more geriatric, petulant, and less funny version of the Bry
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Rebecca
(3.5) Bryson’s funniest book for many years. It meant a lot to me since I am also an American expat in England. I kept recognizing places I’d been and agreeing with the sentiments. Two points of criticism, though: although he moves roughly from southeast to northwest in the country, the stops he makes are pretty arbitrary, and his subjects of mockery are often what you’d call easy targets. Do we really need Bryson’s lead to scorn litterbugs and reality television celebrities? Still, I released m ...more
Julie
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
I've been trying to get my American arse over to England for my entire life, and, every time I fail to do so, I embrace a new British travelogue to soften the blow.

I figure that, by the time I get there, I'll have read so many books on the subject, I'll be an expert, but it's also possible that I'll be so old, I'll have forgotten everything I ever learned.

Ironically, I had never read Bill Bryson's original travel book about England, Notes from a Small Island, which came out a little over 20 year
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Paul
Mar 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Notes from a Small Island was first published 20, yes 20 years ago. In that book he visited place new and revisited old haunts from when he first came to UK in the seventies. His points of view as an outsider were refreshing, fairly blunt and quite frequently very funny. The book came about after his publisher remarked that it might be worth having another look at the country now he was actually a citizen.

He did consider doing a journey between what most people think of as the two furthest point
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Bianca
Mar 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am like a grumpy, old(er) man ... I thought that of myself when listening to The Road to Little Dribbling. Just for a little while. Bill Bryson's grumblings about people, service or lack of service, and the general lack of proper grammar and punctuation are just some of the things we have in common. But then, I remembered that Bryson's older books, written in his 40s, were similar, so I will just call him, and myself, critical thinkers who are fed up with the lowest common denominator, and whe ...more
Xandra
An unnecessary follow-up to Notes from a Small Island that, in usual Bryson fashion, is packed with trivia that runs the gamut from intriguing to tiresome, and, unlike his other works, generally lacks excitement, humour and wit. Petty jabs masquerading as humour are, on the other hand, unpleasantly frequent:

"…the boy was gone and the crisp packet was on the ground. There was a bin three feet away. It occurred to me, not for the first time, that if Britain is ever to sort itself out, it is going
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Jason Koivu
Jan 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
For all its stogy, stoicism and unspoken rules of social etiquette, England is a peculiar place full of strange people doing odd things. Many and more are found here in The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain.

American-born writer Bill Bryson has been living in England so long he's written a sort of 20th anniversary sequel to his popular Notes from a Small Island. While The Road to Little Dribbling may sound like more of the same, Bryson made sure to steer clear of the
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Kyle
Nov 09, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
This one kind of broke my heart a little.

Bill Bryson is a master of the English language. He wields it not as a sword in fiery rhetoric, and not as a scalpel in poetry. He uses it as a hug with some light tickling.

Reading his books is an exercise in warm, comfortable conversation with someone who likes and admires you. He complains, he trips, he discovers fascinating things and people, and you're there for all of it.

None of that has changed.

But poor old beleaguered Bill is now an actual old ma
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Helle
Mar 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humour
(3.5 stars) I read once that the furthest distance the average American will walk without getting into a car is 600 feet, and I fear the modern British have become much the same, except that on the way back to the car the British will drop some rubbish and get a tattoo.

I’ve spent many happy hours in Bill Bryson’s company since I first read his delightful Notes from a Small Island (for the first time) some 15 years ago. I’ve chuckled to the sound of his voice narrating his own quirky-brainy anecd
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Simon
Oct 16, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, british-isles
He's become the Paul McCartney of travel writing; once sublime and now pushing out books that we buy because he's given us so much pleasure in the past. Maybe it's very clever writing: the ageing scribe and observer returns to look at England and finds it changed mostly for the worse and so reflects this in his prose; also changed for the worse. There are a few laugh out loud moments; but these are largely fart jokes. I don't mind a curmudgeon and age suits this persona. I just don't much like t ...more
Diane Barnes
Nov 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
I love Bill Bryson. I'll just state that right up front. I've read other of his books, though not all, and enjoyed them immensely, but I think this is my favorite so far. Maybe because he is honest from the outset that he is 65 years old, and somewhat of a curmudgeon, but has earned the right to grouse about, among other things: aging, the younger generation, people who litter, stupidity (individual and political), incorrect punctuation and grammar from those who really should know better, and t ...more
Whitney
May 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
Something is wrong with Bill Bryson. Maybe it has been too long since I last checked in with him, but this book is a cry for help, people.

He hates everything—public transportation, private transportation, food, non-food. And it seems like he has forgotten the names of his family. Every chapter he goes on about "my wife." She has a name, Bill. She's Cynthia! Everyone knows this!

What happened to the cheerful buffoonery and sunny outlook that lifted so many of his other books into a place of joyful
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Tracey
I've always enjoyed Bill Bryson. I loved A Walk in the Woods and The Mother Tongue and his Shakespeare book, etc. This? Not this. I couldn't manage this.

Yes, it was lovely to learn that we've all been pronouncing "Everest" wrong (and that George Everest never went up it). It's good to know that almost 40% of London is park and the city is almost half as populated as New York, and France and England are only 20.6 miles apart at their closest point, and such. Motopia is a very cool idea and I'm e
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David
Apr 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to David by: Peter Mcloughlin
Shelves: audiobook, travel
This is a wonderful, entertaining, and truly funny book about Bill Bryson's return to the United Kingdom. I laughed so many times! It's not just what he writes; it is how he writes his stories, his unexpected phrases, that make his sarcasm endearing rather than irritating.

In this book, Bryson returns to many of the same locations in Britain as he wrote about in his book of 20 years ago, Notes from a Small Island. He compares the progress--or lack of it--in many of these locations.

Bryson tells a
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Turi
Oct 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bryson has matured into the curmudgeonly grump that was presaged in hes previous books. And it's wonderful.
Will Ansbacher
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: travel, britain
A lovely book, and one where there are far too many diverse encounters to focus on any particular one, but it had me laughing on almost every page.
As part of the 20th anniversary of his first Notes from a Small Island, Bryson set out to travel the “Bryson Line” – which he claims is the longest straight line in Britain from Bognor on the South Coast to Cape Wrath at the top of Scotland, though he rambles all around it and spends most of his time nearer the southern end.
What a joy walking is. Al
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Hilary
I needed to relax with a quick audible nostalgic trip around UK. Terrible disappointment.

Bill Bryson has turned into a patronising, grumpy old man. He bullies a poor kid in Macdonalds, grumbles about a cafe that he remembered now closed, whinges about traffic and I am nearly at the point of leaving this unfinished.
Rudely actually names a pub because he is late at Sunday lunch and asked to wait as kitchen busy.

Acted with such an undeserved sense of entitlement I was ashamed for him while reading
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Melora
Dec 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this! A wonderful mix of historical anecdotes, personal stories, and descriptions of lovely countrysides and beautiful old buildings. Plus, as other reviewers have noted, a generous helping of grousing about idiots. I've read quite a few of Bryson's books, but this may be my favorite. At least, it is the only one I can think of which made me really, Really wish I could go on the hikes and visit the museums, etc. he describes. (Admittedly it's been a long while since I read Notes ...more
Trelawn
Oct 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really fun and informative trip around Britain with Bill. Twenty years on from Notes on a Small Island Bill is now a UK citizen and decides to embark on another trip around Britain from Bognor Regis to Cape Wrath. No town, village or city is spared Bryson's observations; nor is British Rail. This time round he invites us to enjoy and appreciate the countryside as much as he does and it worked because I have a sudden urge to fly to England and rent a car and just drive.
John Martin
I congratulate Mr Bryson for becoming a British citizen, but I think I need to warn him it's not like playing a computer game: i.e., when you conquer the first level, you don't have to progress to a whingeing pom level, then a grumpy old man level.

I suspect I'm part of the older readership demographic that discovered Bill Bryson's unique travel books years ago and stayed for a mighty good ride as he came up with other interesting and entertaining books. I admired the stories he told, marvelled a
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Doubleday  Books
Jul 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"Bill is back and I’m so happy to have him! If you’ve read Bryson before, you’re feeling as giddy as I was to be treated to his hilarious voice and style. If you haven’t read Bryson before, The Road to Little Dribbling is a great place to start. In this new book, Bryson finds himself back in England, where it all began in the book that put him on the map, Notes From a Small Island. It was an absolute pleasure to read about Bryson’s British adventures. He’s the master of witty observation and one ...more
Lyubov
Feb 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Първа среща за мен с Бил Брайсън, но пък паметна. Този човек определено те кара да се хилиш на глас независимо дали си сам, или четеш на обществено място (не знам кое от двете изглежда по-ненормално). Една журналистка, с която си говорих за него, неочаквано прелестно го сравни с Тери Пратчет по линия на хумора. Много свежо хрумване, но за мен Брайсън е по-скоро наследник на традциите на Джером Джером, Марк Твен и моя неотменен любимец Бранислав Нушич.

Да успееш да предадеш купчина малко известни
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Around the Year i...: The Road to Little Dribbling, by Bill Bryson 10 82 Mar 31, 2017 11:29AM  
Afterthought? 9 79 Mar 27, 2017 06:02PM  
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William McGuire "Bill" Bryson, OBE, FRS 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, Bil
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Other books in the series

Notes from a Small Island (2 books)
  • Notes from a Small Island
“What a joy walking is. All the cares of life, all the hopeless, inept fuckwits that God has strewn along the Bill Bryson Highway of Life suddenly seem far away and harmless, and the world becomes tranquil and welcoming and good.” 23 likes
“It was known as the Sick Man of Europe. It was in every way poorer than now. Yet there were flowerbeds on roundabouts, libraries and post offices in every village, cottage hospitals in abundance, council housing for all who needed it. It was a country so comfortable and enlightened that hospitals maintained cricket pitches for their staff and mental patients lived in Victorian palaces. If we could afford it then, why not now? Someone needs to explain to me how it is that the richer Britain gets the poorer it thinks itself.” 11 likes
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