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Notes from a Big Country
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Notes from a Big Country

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  55,887 ratings  ·  2,755 reviews
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.

Of course there were things
Paperback, 416 pages
Published 1999 by Black Swan
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J. Schlackman While this is one of the more egregious errors, it's far from the only incorrect statistic in the book. I suspect the origin of each chapter as a…moreWhile this is one of the more egregious errors, it's far from the only incorrect statistic in the book. I suspect the origin of each chapter as a serialized entertainment column in a newspaper meant that fact-checking wasn't a priority, and given that the material had already run in print once, the editorial process for the book was more focused on arrangement than anything else.(less)
Holden It's all right. If you have never read anything by Bryson, I would recommend "A Walk in the Woods" and "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid"…moreIt's all right. If you have never read anything by Bryson, I would recommend "A Walk in the Woods" and "The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid" over this. Since it's a collection of articles he wrote for a newspaper, it's somewhat unfocused and there seems to be a lot of rambling. (less)

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Miranda Reads
Who says you can't go home?

Bryson grew up in America, married his English wife and moved to England with her. Now, after 20 years across the pond, he moves back. And that's when things got weird.
Coming back to your native land after an absence of many years is a surprisingly unsettling business, a little like waking up from a long coma. Time, you discover, has wrought changes that leave you feeling mildly foolish and out of touch.
I suppose I feel a milder version of this whenever I visit my
Jul 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Have you ever visited a foreign country for a length of time, to the point where you were caught up in a completely different lifestyle and society, and then when you finally returned home, you experienced a form of reverse culture shock?

That is what happened to Bill Bryson when he moved back to the U.S. after living in England for two decades. This delightful book is a collection of weekly columns he wrote for the Mail on Sunday newspaper from 1996 to 1998. Bryson has fun talking about American
May 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When in doubt and/or a funky reading mood, pick a Bill Bryson book - that's my (newest) motto.

As much as I'd love to re-read favourite books - if only to reacquaint myself with the story/characters and/or to check if they still thrill me as much, it's difficult to do so, when many unread books are beckoning me to pay attention. For the past month or so I've been a reluctant reader. Luckily, I'm still able to listen to audiobooks. So when perusing the library overdrive for audiobooks, I spotted
Jason Koivu
1000 BOOKS READ!!!

Okay, maybe it's not an exact 1000. Some of the books I've added to my GR read list are not even books. On the other hand, I know I've forgotten some of the books I read as a kid, so maybe it evens out in the end, and GR's count is probably as accurate as it's going to get. Therefore, let the good times roll!


Oh my goodness, that was fun. Okay, back to business.

I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America after Twenty Years Away is a very long title. It rambles a
Oct 17, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
First think I will say is that this isn't the book I would finish if I didn't have to, for university. I'm not saying that this book isn't good, I'm just saying that this book wasn't for me.

Second thing I will say is that I can't believe that I finally finished it. I don't think I've ever needed this much time to finish one book (and the book wasn't even that big).

I'm a Stranger Here Myself (or as it was released in England: Notes from a Big Country) is a collection of columns. When Bill Bryson
Jan 17, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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

Bill Bryson is an Anglo-American author of books on travel, science, language and other non-fiction topics.

Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson, born in Iowa, lived in England for twenty years before returning to the U.S. with his family. This book is a compilation of humorous articles about America that Bryson wrote for a British publication. The book, published in 2000, is somewhat dated. Even taking this into account many articles have a snarky, annoying tone. This was disappointing as I usually like
Mar 03, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humorous-essays
I normally love Bill Bryson's books. Unfortunately, I could swear this one was written by Andy Rooney.
Roy Lotz
Bill Bryson has become something like my spiritual guide. Taken together, his works form a roadmap for living life as a middle-aged, oversensitive, bookish, misanthropic, curious, and curiously inept man; and I am following his lead into the sunset.

This book was particularly relevant for me, because I recently returned to New York to renew my visa. Like Bryson, I would be seeing my native land after a spell abroad (although my time away was much shorter). As usual, I got the audiobook version
Kaethe Douglas
Jul 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, beloved, usa
January 1, 1996

A very funny perspective. It must be hard to be both a native and an outsider. Fortunately, Bryson is funny as hell, so the difficulty of it all is related in a way, that might make you laugh out loud, if you're a laughing out loud sort of person.

Library copy
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Do the English understand Americans?
And do Americans know anything about the English?
They both will with the humorous help of Bill Bryson

On the Hotline
I came across something in our bathroom the other day that has occupied my thoughts off and on ever since. It was a little dispenser of dental floss.It isn't the floss itself that is of interest to me but that the container has a toll-free number printed on it. You can call the company's Floss Hotline twenty-four hours a day. But here is the
Mia Friel
Jan 14, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
J.K. Grice
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bio-memoir
What's not to like? It's Bryson... ;)
If you like reading brief, amusing but unrelated snippets about the oddities of life, this may be the book for you. Theres nothing very original in it, but some readers no doubt enjoy the empathy of saying Oh, Ive always thought that too.

Its 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 guess
Heather K (dentist in my spare time)

It pains me to say this because I just read, and LOVED, A Short History of Nearly Everything by the same author, but I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America after Twenty Years Away was shockingly dull.

I wasn't a fan of the audiobook narrator, who comically overacted, and the content was so dated that I could barely relate to it anymore. If you like lots (and I mean LOTS) of complaining about topics such as telemarketers, having to use ID to get on an airplane, having to
Jun 14, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 31, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Florin Pitea
May 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Lovely collection of articles. Funny, witty, charming, reads like a dream. I can hardly wait to begin reading another book by Mr. Bill Bryson.
Jan 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jul 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Mar 10, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 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 ...more
Apparently there's an earlier audiobook version of this recorded by Bryson himself, which I would love to get my hands on somewhere, because I've enjoyed his low-key reading on several of his other books. Unfortunately, this version narrated by William Roberts quickly became unlistenable. I just barely managed to get through the first CD, but by then was pretty much ready to drive into a brick wall. Roberts overacts shamelessly and relentlessly, sounding like a character from some 1940's radio ...more
Dec 12, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have always wanted to read Bill Bryson's books for a long time and can say that I found this novel extremely funny and saw me chuckling well into the night. It gave me a better understanding of the culture of Americans and the culture shock that Bryson found on returning to the United States. There are a number of essays with various subject matter ranging from policies on drugs to "where has the year gone ?" The same place as my hair. The whole time he was poking fun at himself a lot. It also ...more
Dec 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone interested in American culture
Recommended to Agnė by: Read and Meet Book Group

Im a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America after Twenty Years Away by Bill Bryson is a collection of seventy comical weekly columns written for the British newspaper Mail on Sunday in 1996-1998. After living in Britain for almost two decades, Bryson moved back to the United States, his homeland. Together with his English wife and four children, Bryson settled down in Hanover, New Hampshire, from where he wrote the weekly columns about his reacquaintance with
Arni Vidar Bjorgvinsson
Feb 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
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
May 17, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This isn't among my favourite Bryson books.Two decades after living in Britain,he decides to go back to the US with his English wife and children.After such a long time away,he feels disoriented and it shows.He is also not happy about the state of many things.I didn't enjoy it.
Namitha Varma
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: humour, non-fiction
Thoroughly enjoyed reading this one. I was laughing out loud in all kinds of public places and people were trying to see the title of the book. Oh, I'm in love with Bryson!
Robert Beveridge
Bill Bryson, I'm a Stranger Here Myself (Broadway Books, 1999)

At, 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
Feb 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
About a quarter of the way through this, I realized that some things sounded rather familiar. It was only after searching on Good Reads, that I realized that I read this two years ago. Oh dear. A good friend had sent me a list of Bryson books to read in order. I'd taken careful note, but forgotten that I'd already read this one. Never mind. I loved it yet again and have given it 4 stars once more. One of my many favorite parts:

"The last time I arrived at Heathrow Airport, for instance, the
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First time unabridged audia due out 7/2/2013 2 24 Oct 01, 2016 01:09AM  
Readjusting to life in the U.S. 1 42 Sep 03, 2011 06:26PM  
true to the story 1 37 Jan 25, 2008 09:10AM  

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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,

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