Why are you reading this book?
Bill Bryson! Also, my favorite local coffee shop has a new lending library and I had to choose SOMETHING!
What is the first line?
I come from Des Moines. Somebody had to.
Describe the book in haiku form:
mocking all, mercilessly,
then returning home
What will you do with it now?
keep for reference
keep and loan out to friends x return to the lending library x
keep to read again & again & again
post to paperbackswap.com
throw it away
Anything else you’d like to say?
I love Bill Bryson, but only in small doses. He’s wry and irreverent and good for a chuckle. (I nearly attempted to turn that into a haiku. That’s what always holds up these reviews – my fear of writing poems.) I’ll share a few of those small doses below.
Directions are very important to them. They have an innate need to be oriented, even in their anecdotes. (insert anecdote) You can always tell a Midwestern couple in Europe because they will be standing on a traffic island in the middle of a busy intersection looking at a windblown map and arguing over which way is west.
An observation that resonates through most of the book:
It must be wonderful to live in a safe and timeless place, where you know everyone and everyone knows you, and you can all count on each other. I envied them their sense of community, their football games, their bring-and-bake sales, their church socials. And I felt guilty for mocking them. They were good people.
A reminder that I need to visit the Grand Canyon:
Nothing prepares you for the Grand Canyon. No matter how many times you read about it or see it pictures, it still takes your breath away. Your mind, unable to deal with anything on this scale, just shuts down and for many long moments you are a human vacuum, without speech or breath, just a deep, inexpressible awe that anything on this earth could be so vast, so beautiful, so silent.
On tornadoes. And Iowa:
All those stories you’ve ever read about tornadoes driving pieces of straw through telegraph poles or picking up cows and depositing them unharmed in a field four miles away are entirely true. In south-west Iowa there is a cow that has actually had this happen to it twice. People come from miles around to see it. This alone tells you a lot about the mysteries of tornadoes. It also tells you a little something about what there is to do for fun in south-west Iowa.
I didn’t write down page numbers, but believe that Bryson said all of those things in this book, and you can find them if you read it yourself.