Cecily's book reviews

In general I've written reviews of every book I've read since I joined GoodReads (RIP) in May 08, along with one or two I read prior to that. More recent reviews tend to be longer (sometimes a tad too long?). I always carry a book, though I don't get as much time as I'd like to get engrossed - life is busy, but in a good way. Too many of my favourite authors died without writing enough! Apart from reading, and writing about reading, I enjoy Scrabble, good restaurants, woodland, and attending the theatre.
Notes from a Big Country - Bill Bryson If you like reading brief, amusing but unrelated snippets about the oddities of life, this may be the book for you. There’s nothing very original in it, but some readers no doubt enjoy the empathy of saying “Oh, I’ve always thought that too”.

It’s a collection of short articles written for a weekly British news magazine about adapting to life in the US, after 20 years living in Britain – comparing the two countries and comparing the US of his youth with the version he now finds himself in. And guess what he finds in the US? Computer help desks are annoying; Americans are litigious and always want to blame someone else; the news is xenophobic; Toys R Us is a silly name; spell checkers are annoying and not very useful; irony is uncommon; obesity is a problem and there are helplines for all consumer products, including dental floss.

Whilst it’s often quite funny, I prefer a book, whether fact or fiction, to have some sort of sequence. This would be better as source material for standup routines of observational comedy (or in its original form).

Because it was written for a British audience, it’s accessible even to those with little experience or knowledge of the US (whereas Notes from a Small Island needs quite a lot of explanation to some US readers).

Of its kind, I suppose it is pretty good (4*), but as I didn’t especially enjoy it, I’ll only give it 3*. (I bought it in a single volume with Notes from a Small Island and assumed it was a similar travelogue, but set in the US.)

Currently reading

The Illustrated Gormenghast Trilogy
Sebastian Peake, China Miéville, Mervyn Peake
Gormenghast
Mervyn Peake