Tag: Dense

Bill Bryson – Made in America | Review

Title: Made in America

Author: Bill Bryson

Type: Non-Fiction

Page Count: 480

Rating: 3.25/5

As a general rule, I’m a pretty big fan of Bill Bryson, although I will admit that I’ve enjoyed some of his books more than others. This is one of the ones that I didn’t quite enjoy as much as the others, but mostly because it’s just a super dense read and because the print on it is so tiny that you feel like you’re straining your eyes just to read it.

The good news is that the core subject matter here is pretty interesting, especially if you’re the kind of person who’s quite bookish or who’s fascinated by the written word. That’s because it basically covers the history of American English, beginning at the beginning with the formation of America and carrying on through pretty much to the modern day.

That gives this book a pretty weird vibe wherein it feels kind of like a history book and kind of like a dictionary, which is why I made this book one of my bedtime books. You’d have to be kind of mad to pick this up as your main read because of how difficult it is to lose yourself in it. It’s not really one of those books that you can binge on, you know?

With all of that said, there’s some great stuff in here, and I particularly liked the origin stories for some early Americanisms. Because of the makeup of the United States and its early colonies, US English has a bunch of words borrowed from French and Spanish, as well as from the many Native American languages that are now sadly extinct.

The thing that I struggled with was the way that so much of the text just consisted of italicised words in lists and stuff. You’d get a couple of paragraphs of really fascinating history and then just as you’re gearing up and getting into it, he’d hit you with a long list of the different words that relate back to that bit of history and eventually I just found my eyes glazing over.

So I think it would have been a little more interesting if he’d selected fewer words to talk about and made it matter, rather than just throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. That makes it a better choice for a reference book perhaps, especially with the comprehensive sources and index at the end, but it doesn’t work so well if you’re just trying to read it like a normal book.

So make of all of that what you will. I would probably recommend it to people who are interested in language and the origins of words, but not to the general reader. Even if you’re a bit of a Bryson fan, you might find it heavy going. Yeah.

Learn more about Made in America.

 


Agatha Christie – An Autobiography | Review

Title: An Autobiography

Author: Agatha Christie

Type: Non-Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 560

Rating: 4*/5

 

Agatha Christie - An Autobiography

Agatha Christie – An Autobiography

 

Wow, this was pretty epic. I mean, it’s a long old book based on just the page count alone, but it’s also super dense with tiny writing and hardly any gaps between the different pages. That means that it takes a huge time investment if you want to get through it and if you have the same edition that I do, you’re also going to need some decent lighting.

This also isn’t the book for you unless you’re a serious Agatha Christie fan. That’s because by its very nature, we spend a lot of time learning about Christie’s early life and her personal life, which really won’t mean much to you unless you want to find out more about what makes her tick. It also places much less focus on her individual books than I was expecting, although that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, we get to see how Christie saw herself, and that’s not necessarily as a novelist. It took her a long time to realise that she could be a writer by profession.

We also don’t get to see what happened when she famously went missing, although that’s hardly a surprise because she said in interviews that she wasn’t too sure herself. But the good news is that Christie’s writing is so entrancing, as it always is, that she could be talking about absolutely anything and it wouldn’t matter. As it is, she talks a lot about the society that she lived in and covers everything from the effects of the two World Wars to what the family unit looked like back in the early half of the 20th century.

 

Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie

 

Christie was also something of an adventurer, travelling around to Syria and Iraq, flying in an aeroplane less than ten years after the Wright brothers demonstrated their first powered flight and even becoming one of the first English women to go surfing. She really lived a remarkably full life and this book is the result of that all. Sure, it pretty much comes to a stop after the end of the Second World War and misses out much of her later life, but then it would have been a massive book it had kept on going and it was already published posthumously as is.

My enjoyment of this book was also boosted by the fact that I buddy read it with a BookTube friend of mine called Bookslikewoah. She’s been doing “Project Poirot” and reading a bunch of Agatha Christie for that, and so it’ll be interesting to see what she makes of it. We’re both big Agatha Christie fans and the perfect audience for a book like this. As to whether I’d recommend it to my mum? Probably not, and she’s a big fan of Agatha Christie and detective/crime novels too.

All in all then, I really enjoyed reading this book and I feel super accomplished because I finished it. I feel like I got to know Christie a lot more, but I also feel as though this background information will help me to get more from her other books when I get to them. I’m also glad  I read it because this was the single biggest obstacle to stop me from reading her entire bibliography.

 

Agatha Christie Quote

Agatha Christie Quote

 

Click here to buy An Autobiography.