Title: Down Under
Author: Bill Bryson
Page Count: 398
Bryson and I have something of a checkered history. I first read Notes from a Small Island, which I thought was fantastic, but then I followed that up with a book about travelling in Europe which I don’t even remember the title of. That one wasn’t as good because he basically spent the entire time complaining about the countries that he visited and it left me feeling actively glad that I wasn’t travelling myself. Not exactly what I look for from non-fiction travel writing.
This one was a return to form, though. Australia is a fascinating country that’s home to more animals that can kill you than anywhere else in the world. Bryson has also clearly done his homework on the country, and in fact the book comes with a four or five page bibliography at the end where he cites his sources.
That makes this a pretty good book to pick up if you just want to know more about Australia, but it’s also a fascinating read in its own right. It’s nice to pick up books like this every once in a while, where you end up learning something just from the act of picking it up. I wasn’t reading this to learn things, though. I was reading it for enjoyment, and the stuff that I learned was just an added little bonus.
This book also has a quirky little personal history for me. I found it in a charity shop a while back and never got round to picking it up until my cat picked it out for me in a YouTube series I do where my cat picks my next read. I started reading it and was enjoying it, but then I went out to an open mic night and managed to lose it. It turned up a couple of weeks later inside my sofa, after I’d already ordered a replacement copy. Bummer.
But I’m glad that I was finally able to finish it, and I’m also glad that I thought it was a good one. It’s encouraged me to finally get off my backside and to read more Bryson, and I’m already looking forward to picking up another. Maybe I’ll get my cat to pick another book out for me, he has good form.