I'm a Stranger Here Myself, by Bill Bryson

>> Wednesday, October 15, 2003

I'm apparently on a romance mini-break. The next book I read was I'm a Stranger Here Myself, by one of my favourite authors, Bill Bryson.

After living in Britain for two decades, Bill Bryson recently moved back to the United States with his English wife and four children (he had read somewhere that nearly 3 million Americans believed they had been abducted by aliens--as he later put it, "it was clear my people needed me"). They were greeted by a new and improved America that boasts microwave pancakes, twenty-four-hour dental-floss hotlines, and the staunch conviction that ice is not a luxury item.
I'm a Stranger Here Myself is a compilation of 70 newspaper columns the author wrote between 1996 and 1998, shortly after moving back from the UK to the US. Each essay is about 4 pages long, so when I started it my intention was to make it last, to read a couple of essays every now and then.

I finished it in 2 days. I was completely unable to stop reading. I'd finish an essay and think "I'll stop here", but then I'd glance at the first paragraph of the following column and get hooked... "Ok, one more..." This guy is a genius.

This book was laugh out loud funny. Really. I'm not talking about reading something and smiling and thinking "this is really funny". I'm talking about actually laughing until I felt tears running down my cheeks. My family thought I was crazy.

Grade: A-. The only reason this didn't get a perfect grade was a little repetitiveness with a certain joke, which was funny the first time but less so the fourth time. Still, it was only a couple of columns too many, so it never got to be more than a mild irritant.

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