Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Road to Little Dribbling

I am a Bill Bryson fan--I've enjoyed his travel books, social history books (At Home is one of my all-time favorites), and his book on Shakespeare is absolutely excellent.  I like his humor, snarkiness notwithstanding, and I love his appreciation for nature.  Politically, we're pretty well aligned too. And his walking treks always inspire me to do more.

So, I eagerly awaited the audio version of his latest book, The Road to Little Dribbling.  Like many, I have to give it a mixed review.  While so much of what I like about Bryson is still there--the love of walking, nature, Britain, and quirkiness in general, I think he indulges in a tad too much ranting at inanities, which makes him come across as a grumpy old guy, a persona he is wearing like one of his old sweaters, but that gets tiresome after awhile.

For the most part, I did enjoy the book--it's a tour, bottom to top, side to side, of Great Britain.  He revisits some places covered in Notes from a Small Island, but mostly goes to places he didn't get to yet but always wanted to.  Listening to his rambles made me want to book passage and pack my bags for a similar tour.  I really like to travel as he does, skipping the crowded tourist attractions and finding the local haunts and hidden gems.

One place in particular that I want to go is the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall.  It sounds enchanting.  I also loved hearing about Gilbert White and his naturalist writings--I ordered an abridged copy The Natural History of Selbourne.  I'm not up for reading 40 years worth of his journal entries but I wanted to get a flavor of his observations, especially now that spring is here and I really need to get weeding.


  1. I want to read Bill Bryson. Books such as this can be so insightful.

    I love quirkiness. Plus a little renting from grumpy old guys is OK.

  2. I love travel accounts set in Britain! They always make me want to pack my bags as well. I've heard of Gilbert White but not read anything of his. Forty years of a journal would be a bit overwhelming, I think, as much as I love reading diaries. I'll be interested to hear what you think of the abridged version.

  3. Too bad this Bryson book goes a bit overboard on the rants. I want to read the original one : Notes From a Small Island if that's much better. I liked his Walk in the Woods.