Book Review – In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

First, I would like to say, I made it to Maine. I am looking out the window at the only fjord on the East coast of the USA (or I would be if it wasn’t foggy and dark, so I’m really just looking at the window). I spent the afternoon moving rocks from a pile next to one garden to a pile next to another garden. Such is the life of a Mainiac. Ok, travel update over.

In anticipation of my upcoming move to Australia, this week I read the book “In a Sunburned Country” by Bill Bryson.

Much more fun than a sunburn.

While it was not my favorite Bryson book, it was still a great read. I am now officially terrified of all of the things that can kill me in the Southern Continent. And there are a lot. I really enjoy Bryson’s role of terrified-yet-intrepid traveler. While I’ve never done anything as crazy as hiking the Appalachian Trail in its entirety, or wandering around England only on public transportation or walking (ok, I did that a little bit), or returning to my hometown after being away for years (actually, I was there last week, but I’d been there a few months before)… Ok, I’ve done a lot of the crazy things that Bryson has done – but he somehow makes them funnier and more relevant than my travels.

Bryson has a way of weaving personal experience, history, second-hand anecdotes, “fun facts”, and a bit of science into one big jumble of great. After reading A Walk in the Woods, I immediately wanted to read more about the Appalachian Trail and the woods of the East coast*. After reading Notes from a Small Island, I immediately wanted to drink tea and walk around England (I did the first right away, the second had to wait for a few years). Basically, after reading anything that Bryson writes, I end up wanting his life. I want a publisher to pay for my trips all over the world so I can write about the funny people I meet and the reasons why the places I visit are interesting. Then I realize that is what many people want, and Bryson has the advantage of being a better and more established writer than I. And it’s his career. Small differences, but in the end he gets an all expenses paid trip across what seems like the final (land) frontier.

I’m not complaining, though. My situation is pretty sweet: I’m moving to Australia to learn science, I will meet plenty of interesting people (the crazies always find me), and as Bryson says more than once – If he were a scientist, he’d want to be one in Australia.

*What? Did you think I was going to say it made me want to hike the Trail? I’m not THAT crazy! I like my hikes to be more along the flatter end of the spectrum, mountain views nice not required.

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~ by Genevieve on August 14, 2011.

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