Tag: Cultural

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.

 


Becky Albertalli – Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda | Review

Title: Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

Author: Becky Albertalli

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 312

Rating: 3.75*/5

 

Becky Albertalli - Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

Becky Albertalli – Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

 

I feel a little let down by this one, because I was expecting to absolutely love it and I ended up thinking it was just okay. The core story line was pretty good and everything I expected it would be, but I found it difficult to relate to the characters because the whole thing felt so American. Simon’s school and the culture inside it is nothing like the school I went to when I grew up, and there were a bunch of cultural references that I didn’t get and that made me feel more like an outsider.

Still, there was plenty of stuff that I did like as well, and I saw Simon very much as a flawed character. Not because he’s homosexual, of course, but because of some of the decisions that he makes and the ways that he acts. He complained about his teachers for following the syllabus and about his parents when he got in trouble for getting drunk. I was also confused by a scene at a gay restaurant that was pumping bass and freely serving alcohol to what appeared to be an entire room full of underage people.

All in all, this book made me feel kind of old. I related to the grownups more than the kids and couldn’t really tie it back to when I was a kid. But then, an ex-pupil burned down my school and I remember watching someone else get hit in the eye with a metal pole by another kid who didn’t like them. But it does have a positive message and I can see why you might find it relatable if you were born after the turn of the century somewhere in America.

 

Becky Albertalli

Becky Albertalli

 

Click here to buy Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda.

 


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