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Book club: Travel Fiction

February 10, 2017

With the sand in your toes and the sun slowly turning you a gorgeous shade of golden-brown, nothing beats lying on the beach and getting lost in a good book for an hour or two. But with so much choice, how can you pick the perfect summer read and make sure you don’t get stuck with a dud all day?

Well, we’ve hand-picked our favourite travel title to keep you company…

Our pick: Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson

One of the biggest names in travel writing, just about anything from the Bill Bryson back catalogue is guaranteed to have you giggling with glee as you sip on your poolside piña colada – but Notes from a Small Island has to be our fave book of his.

Written just before Bill returned to the States after two decades in the UK, he headed out on a seven-week tour of England, Wales and Scotland to give his former home a fond farewell. Packed full of funny observations and wry humour, Bill offers up his thoughts (good and bad) on all the places he encounters on his travels. Who wouldn’t smile broadly wandering through the environs of Horton in Ribblesdale or Giggleswick? And what American in their right mind would imagine that Milton Keynes is a place and not an ageing economist?

And while he admires all that’s brilliant about Britain (“can there anywhere on earth be, in such a modest span, a landscape more packed with centuries of busy, productive attainment?”), he’s not afraid to liken the old aesthetic of Manchester’s Arndale centre to a giant urinal, and argue that Bradford’s only reason for existence is to make every place else look better in comparison.

In short, it’s a wonderfully written whistle stop tour of the UK, good and bad, as seen through the eyes of a knowing American with a very sharp wit. And there’s even a short glossary (translating such terms as “knickers” and “George Formby”) for our friends across the pond. Be warned though – if you’re reading this book in the hustle and bustle of a holiday cafe, passers-by will probably be wondering just what on earth it is you’re sniggering at…


Jack O'RiordanView all posts

    Jack is the editor of The Leisure Lounge. Expert in the art of writing things and putting them online. Loves travelling, especially anywhere in southeast Asia. Hates mushrooms.