Tag: Text

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.

 


Richard Branson – Losing My Virginity | Review

Title: Losing My Virginity

Author: Richard Branson

Type: Non-Fiction

Page Count: 520

Rating: 3.75/5

I’ve had this book lying around for a good few years now, but I’ve been putting off picking it up for whatever reason. It’s kind of strange really, because I remember giving the prologue a read back when I picked it up and quite enjoying it, I just never had the momentum to keep going. But that all changed when I had to travel back to Tamworth for a family engagement because it’s something of a tradition of mine for me to pick up my longest unread book.

One of the good things is that it’s actually misleading, because while this is quite long in terms of page count, it has pretty big text and a bunch of photographs in it too. It’s also just generally quite interesting, whether you’re a Branson fan or not. I can’t say that I knew too much about him going into it, but I had heard good things about this book and I knew that he was an interesting chap.

I guess the noteworthy thing here is the market that Branson was aiming for. It’s got a lot to offer just because he had an interesting, action-packed life, especially when it comes to some of his ballooning adventures. It also has a lot to teach you about what it takes to be successful in business, but they’re the kind of insights that you can apply at any kind of job, from a corporate role to self-employment.

I still haven’t made my mind up on what I think about Branson as a person, but I am glad that I know a little more about him. I think I pitched this book just about right because there’s no need to go out of your way to get to it in a rush. If you do see it lying around though, it’s not bad and worth your time. I’d definitely say it’s in the upper half of the “celebrityautobiographies that I’ve read throughout the years, at least in terms of quality.

It was also just a genuinely pleasurable reading experience, something that was nice and easy to absorb while still giving me a few little bits of food for thought. In fact, it basically set my expectations pretty well and then delivered exactly what I was hoping for from it. For a non-fiction memoir, I think that’s almost the best that you can hope for, and this really would have had to have been something quite special for it to stand out to me above all of the other great stuff that I’ve been reading.

This brings us on to the final question that I try to answer in my reviews, which is whether or not I’d recommend it. Honestly, I’d have to say yes, even if you have no particular reason for reading it. There’s a little something for everyone and while it’s not exactly going to hold up to a re-read, it was alright for a one time thing. Check it out, I guess.

Learn more about Losing My Virginity.