Tag: Columns

Bill Bryson – Notes from a Big Country | Review

Title: Notes from a Big Country

Author: Bill Bryson

Type: Non-Fiction

Page Count: 320

Rating: 4/5

This book is basically a collection of short columns that Bryson wrote after returning to live in America after spending most of his life in the UK. Because of that, it has a lot of insights to offer on the cultural differences between the two countries. Better still, it still mostly holds true today, despite the fact that it’s now a little dated. In fact, there was a reference in there about programming a VCR.

For the most part, though, I thought this was a lot of fun, and Bryson’s sense of humour is on top form. Believe it or not, I’ve actually found him to be a little bit whiny in some of the previous books of his that I’ve read, but he’s back at his best again here and to be honest, this was just what I needed at just the time that I needed it.

I guess that’s because it was easy to read through and I got through the whole thing in just a couple of days. I’m trying to get through the last of the books on my unread pile and so I was kind of worried that the only books that I’d have left would be boring reads that couldn’t hold my attention. And then I picked this one up and it was just a true joy.

I think part of that is because of the format of the book, which is essentially a collection of articles that Bryson wrote for the newspapers. That keeps it short and sweet and while there’s no overall theme other than the investigation of America through the eyes of an ex-pat, other than that it’s all just a bunch of fun little vignettes. And what is there for you not to like about that?

Learn more about Notes from a Big Country.

 


David Mitchell – Thinking About it Only Makes it Worse | Review

Title: Thinking About it Only Makes it Worse

Author: David Mitchell

Type: Non-Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 326

Rating: 4*/5

 

David Mitchell - Thinking About it Only Makes it Worse

David Mitchell – Thinking About it Only Makes it Worse

 

I suppose the first thing to point out here is that this is by David Mitchell the comedian – and not the novelist who wrote Cloud Atlas. I’d actually recommend reading both of them, but for very different reasons.

This book isn’t necessarily a typical book as such, because it’s basically just a collection of different columns that Mitchell wrote for newspapers. Despite that, it does sort of follow a narrative structure – at least, as much as this sort of book can. He’s done a good job of bringing them together in to some sort of order, however arbitrary, and it works well.

The problem is that as soon as you’ve read the first fifty pages, you pretty much know what to expect for the rest of it. It’s different to other books, which are able to repeatedly hook you in with an intense story line. Here, the best you’ll get is a laugh every few pages and the lingering sense that you’ve learned something.

 

David Mitchell

David Mitchell

 

The interesting thing about David Mitchell is that he’s a sort of hero for the cynical, which is probably why I liked this so much. It’s not for everyone, but it’s great stuff if you’re a fan of his or if you tend to lean more to the left when it comes to politics.

My main gripe with this book is the presentation. It felt too text-heavy, and the different columns weren’t particularly well-separated. That only really affects the book’s aesthetics, but I’ve always thought that aesthetics are important. For the average reader, it might be enough to put them off – especially because the newspaper column style starts to get repetitive.

Overall though, I thought this book was lots of fun – and when I wasn’t laughing, I was nodding my head in agreement.

 

David Mitchell

David Mitchell

 

Click here to buy Thinking About it Only Makes it Worse.

 


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