A Year In Books

The Lost Continent

For the last two weeks I’ve been reading The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson. I took an extra week to read it because it was excellent and I didn’t want to rush through it. Bill Bryson has completely won me over as an author and I will definitely be reading more of his books. This book took me completely by surprise, it’s the chronicle of Bryson’s road trip across American after having lived in the UK for many years. So, pretty awesome.

When I first started reading the book I felt a little lost, when Bryson was describing certain places it seemed to me he was relying on a lot of stereotype. I kept thinking “Wait. I’ve been there, it’s not like that at all.” and then I remembered that Bryson’s road trip was in 1987. 1987 was a completely different time ¬†and although it doesn’t seem to be that long ago, I imagine things were probably a lot different 24 years ago. Once I got over that- I was full in. Bryson is hilarious. His adventures on the road are completely relatable and, perhaps unintentionally, perhaps intentionally, satirical. Basically, his writing is my jam.

It’s a travel memoir but it’s unlike any travel memoir you’ve ever read. Not only because it’s very very funny, but also because it seems so familiar and comforting. Most Americans have taken a road trip or two around the country, usually at fairly young ages, so the idea of someone well into their adulthood trying to recapture a little bit of that childhood nostalgia resonates. It resonates hard. It’s also very compelling because we all know just how enormous the US is and therefore have mad respect for anyone who attempts to drive across it. It’s definitely what you refer to as a “journey” and not merely a “trip”.

Seriously y’all, this book is one of the best I’ve read all year. I loved everything about it. The snarkiness, the endearment, the good, the bad, and the tourist attractions. It was all brilliantly written and made me want to jump in my car and take off for the open road immediately.

What are you guys reading this week?

24 thoughts on “A Year In Books

  1. You are so right, 24 years ago was a different planet, and I am still trying to come to terms with that !! Living in an age when the world has changed so dramatically does weird things to my brain . Mind you, I would probably have been this confused if I had been born in Anne Boleyns era, so I can’t really blame the times. Great blog. I think you write naturally, and I like that!

  2. Bill Bryson’s “A Short History of Everything” is awesome. The Mister has been reading it for the last two years. It’s just that kind of book…he picks it up when he has nothing to read, flips to a page and he’s off. The title says it all. :-)

  3. I listened to Bryson’s “Life and Times of The Thunderbolt Kid” on CD and enjoyed it, but I am about his age. I don’t know if that will be a deal-breaker for you or not.

  4. GotC! He is one of my all-time favorite writers! I am ALL ABOUT the memoir, so my fav authors include Bryson, Augusten Burroughs and David Sedaris. They are all hilarious. You should definitely read “A Walk in the Woods” (Bill Bryson’s first big seller)! I even got Peppermeister into Bill Bryson, and he’s not a big reader.

  5. We take a lot of trips camping and go to smallish places (in Alberta/BC primarily) and last year thought about chronicling the trips. They can be quite funny, exciting, and freaky. lol.. .

    I’ve been reading an ebook called Taming your inner online menace by Carla Madden. I got it as a free ebook and didn’t really intend on reading it, but I had to wait for my daughter at her dental appointment and found myself thinking the book was too dang funny to put down. it really does speak to a person my age and the dawn of the on-life personality. I find myself laughing a lot at this book (at myself).

  6. Hooray! I’m so, so happy you liked Mr. Bryson, friend. You scared me there for a second last week, when I thought you wouldn’t. You know what this means, right? You must come over and trade Brysons. I think you’d really like his latest, At Home, in which he delves into the history of the home. It was fantastic/hilarious.

  7. When I lived in the US, which I left four years ago, I bought a whole lot of books to have reading material for like 10 years. The one I am reading right now is a book by Celia Rivenbark called “We’re just like you, Only Prettier” that is absolutely wonderful and very, very funny. Definitely one you should get around to reading as I think you would very much enjoy her kind of humor. Your blog actually reminds me of her writing as you, too, make me laugh a lot.

  8. Added to my must read list. I think that if I had seen it in the bookstore, I would have bought it based on the cover alone.

    Books like this make me want to take to the open road too. Mrs. Paladin and I love to explore stuff off the beaten path and, while we normally only have time/resources to do it locally, the urge to strike out on adventures farther from home has been building in intensity recently. To paraphrase Tolkien… roads can be dangerous things for me. I step out on to them and risk being swept away to someplace mysterious and amazing.

    Currently reading “Stressfire. Vol. 1. Gunfighting for Police: Advanced Tactics and Tecniques” by Massad Ayoob. Possibly not your cup of tea :)

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