Tag: Complain

Bill Bryson – The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid | Review

Title: The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid

Author: Bill Bryson

Type: Non-Fiction

Page Count: 416

Rating: 4/5

Bryson’s non-fiction is always a lot of fun to read, and this book was no different. What’s interesting, though, is that instead of focussing on travel writing as he usually does, this was instead a memoir about Bryson’s childhood adventures. That was cool in one sense, but in another sense I would have preferred to have had some travel writing from him, purely because that’s what he’s best at.

There’s also the Thunderbolt Kid gimmick, which I wasn’t particularly a fan of because I’m not much into superheroes in general. I get that it was his childhood fantasy and stuff and it did a good job of tying the book together, it’s just that I have different interests I guess. Plus it wasn’t really needed, and it ended up just feeling like a gimmick that Bryson relied on when he wasn’t too sure how to finish a chapter.

But I don’t want to complain too much, and in fact as a general rule, I did still really enjoy this. Bryson’s writing is always a pleasure, and I’m sure he could write about literally any subject and I’d still enjoy it. If anything, that’s kind of the gist of this review. I have less in common with Bryson when he’s writing about his upbringing as a kid in America than I do when he’s writing about the places that he’s visited.

And that’s kind of the problem here. I don’t really have anything else to say about this one and it was just okay, although at least it didn’t have any of the sort of inadvertent snootiness that’s ruined a couple of other Bryson books for me. Overall, it was eminently readable and I’m glad I picked it up, especially because it was for free from a little book exchange outside someone’s house, but it wasn’t quite as good as I was expecting.

If you’re a Bill Bryson fan then you’ll want to pick this one up of course, but at the same time I should warn you that it’s just so-so, and definitely not up to scratch if you compare it to some of his other stuff, and Notes from a Small Island in particular. If this was written by just anyone, it would’ve been fine. But because it’s by Bill Bryson, it’s a let down.

Learn more about The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid.

 


Robert Webb – How Not to be a Boy | Review

Title: How Not to be a Boy

Author: Robert Webb

Type: Non-Fiction

Page Count: 330

Rating: 3.75/5

I was surprised by this one because I didn’t enjoy it as much as I was expecting. I’d heard a lot of really good stuff going into this, but I had a few issues with it. Perhaps that’s not surprising because I’ve always had a strange relationship with him. When I first saw him in Peep Show, I didn’t like him much, but I’ve since come around to have a healthy respect for him, although I prefer David Mitchell.

I think the main thing that hampered my enjoyment here was Webb’s writing style, which is pretty idiosyncratic. Because of that, I think that you’ll either love the way that he writes or it’ll kind of grate on you, which is what happened with me. Still, that was just a minor thing and a matter of personal preference, and not enough for me to recommend against it.

That’s because it is actually a decent little memoir, particularly because of the way that it asks a lot of questions and goes out of its way to confront some of the ways in which our society has inherent biases about the two sexes. I guess you could say it’s pretty woke, and it knows it’s pretty woke, and in many ways that’s the point of it.

So while I didn’t quite enjoy this one as much as I expected to when I was going into it, I still can’t really complain. It was pretty good at doing what it set out to do, and there was also plenty of food for thought too. It’s also pretty dark, at times surprisingly so. Robert Webb has been through a lot and so it’s kind of awesome to see that he came out the other side and was able to turn it into something positive. So there’s that, I guess.

Learn more about How Not to be a Boy.

 


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