Notes From a Small Island

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UK hardcover, 1st edition.

Notes From a Small Island is a comedic travel book about Great Britain by Bill Bryson, first published on 1995-05-01. The book was written because Bryson wanted to take one last trip around Great Britain after he decided to move back to the USA.

Having been a fan of the other books I've read of Bryson's, I read this one as well, but I wasn't as impressed.


I don't own the book, but I've listened to an audio book. I finished it on 2019-07-23.



  • The book describes a lot of the oddities of British terminology, custom, and attitude, which I found interesting.
  • I enjoyed it when Bryson talked about areas of the UK that I'm already familiar with, like the city of Glasgow.


  • A lot of the jokes and exaggerations fell flat on me.
  • Bryson belabors several points including, why do people replace attractive old architecture with ugly modern buildings? Why do people like bad TV? Why isn't public transit more reliable? And so forth. Some of it I understand, but Bryson harps about it for too much of the book, and his romanticism with the past is flawed. Things aren't better simply because they're old, and they're not worse simply because they're new. He even exposes the flaw in his "old is sacred" mentality when he writes how honored he was to see an ancient Roman mosaic tiled floor, only to later be corrected that it was merely a replica.
  • Too much of the book is spent describing small towns in the UK that even British people will probably never see. It's hard to get excited over yet another hamlet.


  • Nothing really, but I found my mind drifting a lot and had a hard time staying interested.


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