Tag: Tiny

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.

 


Charles Dickens – Hard Times | Review

Title: Hard Times

Author: Charles Dickens

Type: Fiction

Page Count: 248

Rating: 3.5/5

I’ve had this book for a while now but I’d been putting it off because it has tiny print and because it’s Dickens, and so I knew it wasn’t exactly going to be easy going. The good news is that once I got into it, I got pretty absorbed in the story line and I had to keep on reading to see what happened next. The characters were just a nice little added bonus.

I think this book quite often gets overshadowed by Dickens’ other work, but what I learned from this is that he was just a pretty badass writer in general. His work still holds up today, and so too do the issues that he wrote about. Dickens is great at covering class differences, and while the specific classes might have changed, the general idea has not.

Still, I have to admit that the main feeling that I’ve been left with after completing this is a sense of relief. It’s been on my TBR for literally years and I’ve been meaning to get to it, but I was putting it off. I think I left it for just the right amount of time, and I definitely wouldn’t recommend racing out to get yourself a copy immediately.

The good news is that it’s out of copyright and so you can read it for free all over the place. Enjoy.

Learn more about Hard Times.