Tag: Formation

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.


Don Lattin – The Harvard Psychedelic Club | Review

Title: The Harvard Psychedelic Club

Author: Don Lattin

Type: Non-Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 256

Rating: 4*/5


Don Lattin - The Harvard Psychedelic Club

Don Lattin – The Harvard Psychedelic Club


Don’t let this book’s appearance fool you. At first glance, it looks more like a textbook than the stunning piece of investigative non-fiction that it is, but it’s eminently readable and a lot of fun to boot.

This book tells the story of four influential peopleTimothy Leary, Ram Dass, Huston Smith and Andrew Weil – and promises to show you how they “killed the fifties and ushered in a new age for America”. It delivers on that promise, and it’s interesting to see how the formation of the Harvard Psychedelic Club rocked the establishment.

Of the four of them, Leary is the most well-known for psychedelia. He’s one of the primary people that helped to popularise the use of LSD in the 1960s, but the others all had their roles to play too. It’s interesting to see how their lives converged and then separated again, and while the majority of the action takes place in the 50s and 60s, it still takes you pretty much right up to the present date.

Because of that, it takes you on a journey through time that allows you to see how the actions of these four fascinating men changed the world – not just for the sixties but for good. And there’s no pretension – Lattin covers it impartially but passionately, and that’s just fine by me. Overall then, it’s the perfect read for people with varied interests.


Don Lattin

Don Lattin


Click here to buy The Harvard Psychedelic Club.