Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson chronicles the walking expedition that the author took across Great Britain right before he moved back to the United States. I loved how his enjoyment of the countryside (particularly Yorkshire) came through in his beautiful descriptions. If he had only stuck to his descriptions of the idyllic countryside and the interesting monuments and things that he saw there I would have enjoyed this book. Instead he interjected his beliefs/prejudices/stereotypes about different groups of people and it really turned me off of the entire book. The first note that I wrote after reading this was simply "I don't like Bill Bryson."
What he poked fun of (a shortlist):
- fat people (fat shaming a family at a restaurant and staring so much they moved tables)
- Asperger's (a trainspotter widower he met was too excited about trains apparently)
- Lewis Carroll (described him as a "poor perverted mathematician" when pedophilia was only rumored never proven)
- Parkinson's (need I say more?)
The only good things that came out of this is that I'll probably visit Warwick Castle and Snowshill Manor in the future...and I'll never read anything else from Bill Bryson.
For another viewpoint, check out the critique of A Walk in the Woods by Mary Jean Ronan Herzog entitled "Including Appalachian Stereotypes in Multicultural Education: An Analysis of Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods" in the Journal of Appalachian Studies Vol. 5 Issue 1.
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