February 7, 2016

Book Review: The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson

I've gushed before about my love for Bill Bryson, so I was beyond excited when Shelf Awareness sent me his latest book for review!

Bill Bryson (A Walk in the Woods, One Summer) returns to what he does best in The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain, in which he documents a follow-up journey around England, in honor of the 20th anniversary of Notes from a Small Island. For the first chapter or so, Bryson seems almost alarmingly elderly, ranting about the terrible spelling and rudeness of the British youth of today, until it becomes clear that "grumpy old man" is his shtick. His hilarious gripes about parking lot litter, unhelpful store clerks and people who let their dogs poop on public pathways will have the reader chuckling aloud.

Scattered among these funny anecdotes are truly fascinating historical tidbits about Victorian railways, the construction of Stonehenge, 1960s economic development and city planning, obscure marathon races and more. Bryson is an expert at making history come alive, and a little well-timed profanity makes even the driest subject quite funny.

Bryson lived in England for four decades, and his particular perspective on the country is perfect--mixing an outsider's objectivity with a lifelong resident's detailed knowledge. And although Bryson laments the slow decline of English culture, his spot-on reminiscences about local history and beautiful scenery will have Anglophiles checking airfares to Heathrow. Sure to send new readers rushing to their library in search of his older books, The Road to Little Dribbling will also be adored by long-time Bryson fans.

Are YOU a Bryson fan?