On Sunday, as I was leaving the house for my weekly of watching the laundry turn round in a machine I grabbed a book. I tend to read books when I’m out because I’m still slightly ashamed of having a Kindle.
I thought I was grabbing Bill Bryson’s One Summer: America 1927. I’ve had it for a couple of years and thought it was time I got round to it. I found, on settling to read, that I’d actually picked up a copy of A Short History of Nearly Everything by the same man. I didn’t even know I had that and judging by the state of it I’ve had it knocking around for a while – probably since the 2004 publication date.
Now, this isn’t an advert for Bill Bryson – he’s famous enough, successful enough, and probably rich enough without any input from me. His name came up earlier today when I was commenting on another blog and I thought I might use him as the subject for this one. Thank you to Derrick J Knight for the inspiration..
The last Bill Bryson book I actually bought was The Road to Little Dribbling. It’s a book that purports to be a journey through the UK some years after his Notes from a Small Island. It’s an easy read with much humour and some interesting detail. However, he’s definitely grown more curmudgeonly over the years, even a little peevish, and I wasn’t entirely comfortable with some of the incidents he writes about.
Then there’s the question of geographical coverage.
As far as the North of England goes the coverage is dour and the coverage of Scotland is positively miserly. Both, I suppose, are in line with geographical stereotypes. There’s a great condensation of this book in The Guardian.
Their one line synopsis is ‘Stonehenge cost an extortionate £12.80 – and most of the stones had fallen over’
Meanwhile, back at the other book, it’s proving to be a bit longer than the word “short” would imply. Over 500 pages in fact. It’s also, according to various reviews, not always accurate. I’m getting round the first part with determination, and dealing with the second part by forgetting most of what I read as it comes along. View my mind, if you will, as a short bookshelf: when you put something on at one end something else falls off the other. I can’t take too much in about the origin of life and sub-atomic particles in case I forget how to breathe.
So, for me, it’s DJK all the way. True, if he moves any further south he’s have to write in French, but apart from that he’s as good as BIll Bryson in every way, apart from the two where he beats him hands down. One is that he comes in easily readable instalments, and the other is (at the risk of sounding like Bill Bryson), is that he is free.
There are other bloggers out there that I could say much the same about, and one day I will, but for today it was DJK and Bryson that coincided – let’s see what tomorrow will bring.
For reasons why I don’t abbreviate to Bill Bryson to BB, see here.