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Author Topic: The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island, By Bill Bryson Review  (Read 1366 times)

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Online Bealman

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The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island, By Bill Bryson

Book Review: Ok, not a railway book as such, but a travelogue of the British Isles. It does, however have a number of railway-themed anecdotes scattered throughout the book.

I was given this book as a Christmas gift, and must admit I had never heard of Bill Bryson, though I suspect that many members may have, as he seems to be reasonably well-known in the UK. He is apparently an American living in Britain who has recently (the book was published just last year) become a British citizen. He wrote a book called 'Notes from a Small Island' 20 years ago, and this is a sequel.

What I liked about the book is that most of the places in the book I have been to and even lived in (Durham), and that it is absolutely hilarious. When I was last in the UK in 2014 I told most people I met that it would be my last trip, but after reading this book, I'm now not so sure.

As well as being humorous, there are snippets of very interesting topics scattered throughout the book. For example, a nineteenth century politician named William Huskisson, who, on the 15th September 1830, became the first person in history to be killed by a train. He apparently was mangled underneath Stephenson's Rocket!

Along with other railway facts, there is an interesting section on the Settle-Carlise railway, which Bryson describes as "both the most picturesque and the most wonderfully unnecessary railway line ever built in England."

As I inferred in the introduction, not a railway book as such, but a good read nevertheless.

ISBN: 9780552779838

Score: 4
Vision over visibility. Bono, U2.

Offline Newportnobby

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I have several Bill Bryson paperbacks including this one and would agree with your review, George.

Offline Ian Morton

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Yes, he has a very easy going style. It is rather like having a chat over a tea (or a pint) with a mate than anything else. He also has an eye for amusing details and a great turn of phrase.

If you haven't read 'Notes from a small island' do so, there is a hilarious tale of a train journey along the north Wales coast.

Online Bealman

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Thank you. Apparently he has done a visit to Australia and has documented it in a book, which I hope to read soon.

I love his writing style!

Coarse language, though, for members who may take offence.  :beers:
Vision over visibility. Bono, U2.

Offline Carmont

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Thank you. Apparently he has done a visit to Australia and has documented it in a book, which I hope to read soon.

I love his writing style!

Coarse language, though, for members who may take offence.  :beers:

Yes Down Under was the first Bryson book I read. Very entertaining. I have a feeling that he embellishes a few of his tales for entertainment purposes, and that's all fine, it is very lighthearted and amusing. As well as Down Under, I'd recommend a walk in the woods. Much much funnier than the film of the same name.

For those of a factual persuasion looking for a layman's guide to science, then A Short History of Nearly Everything is a thoroughly excellent book.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2017, 11:00:55 AM by Carmont, Reason: Correction »

Online Bealman

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Being an ex Physics teacher by trade (or confession), I'll be looking out for that one!  :thumbsup: :beers:

George
Vision over visibility. Bono, U2.

Offline zwilnik

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My favourite bit from Notes from a Small Island that put him forever in my must read list was where he was talking about it being a shame that Dartmoor was used as a military testing and bombing range. He suggested that Keighley would be a much better place to blow up instead :) (being from there originally, I can totally agree ;) )

Offline railsquid

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Thank you. Apparently he has done a visit to Australia and has documented it in a book, which I hope to read soon.

I love his writing style!

Coarse language, though, for members who may take offence.  :beers:

Yes Down Under was the first Bryson book I read. Very entertaining. I have a feeling that he embellishes a few of his tales for entertainment purposes, and that's all fine, it is very lighthearted and amusing.

The book on the English language certainly falls down on its comparison between English and other languages. Full of anecdotes about how language X is inferior to English, certainly for the ones I'm familiar with, and I dug up some Amazon reviews which say the same for others.

His p*ss takes of Britain and the British are very amusing though.
Takahachikawa - Japanese and other trains

Birmingham Knotmore Street - (ex) GWR mainline through the Midlands

Offline Steve Brassett

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I am a big Bill Bryson fan.  In fact, most of my adult education has come from Bill and Qi. He does like railways, but has little time for the small-minded, such as rivet counters, and the people running the FFestiniog railway.

Offline Zogbert Splod

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I have read a few of his books, loved 'em! I actually bought the Australia one while on my way there a few years back. Dare I say that he got it dead to rights?  ;D
Love to hear what you think of it George..... @Bealman
« Last Edit: February 14, 2017, 11:08:24 PM by Zogbert Splod, Reason: added tag »
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Offline Webbo

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On the basis of having read two of his books, Down Under and A Short History of Nearly Everything, I expect that The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island would be a terrific read.

However, living in Oz and having visited most of the places Bryson talks about, I found his Down Under to be a bit trite and full of Australian clichés. It is well written though, but is probably more entertaining to those who are not from here.

A Short History of Nearly Everything is both informative and entertaining. Much of what Bryson writes about in this book I know something about already, but, as has been noted in this thread, he provides lots of twists and unusual details and so extends the more usual natural history.

Webbo

 

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