Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ina Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson (audio)

In a Sunburned Country

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Every time Bill Bryson walks out the door, memorable travel literature threatens to break out. His previous excursion along the Appalachian Trail resulted in the sublime national bestseller A Walk in the Woods. In A Sunburned Country is his report on what he found in an entirely different place: Australia, the country that doubles as a continent, and a place with the friendliest inhabitants, the hottest, driest weather, and the most peculiar and lethal wildlife to be found on the planet. The result is a deliciously funny, fact-filled, and adventurous performance by a writer who combines humor, wonder, and unflagging curiosity.

Despite the fact that Australia harbors more things that can kill you in extremely nasty ways than anywhere else, including sharks, crocodiles, snakes, even riptides and deserts, Bill Bryson adores the place, and he takes his readers on a rollicking ride far beyond that beaten tourist path. Wherever he goes he finds Australians who are cheerful, extroverted, and unfailingly obliging, and these beaming products of land with clean, safe cities, cold beer, and constant sunshine fill the pages of this wonderful book. Australia is an immense and fortunate land, and it has found in Bill Bryson its perfect guide.

My thoughts:
I listened to this audio book and learned a lot of interesting facts about Australia, but as I am not the best auditory learner I promptly forgot most of the facts!  For novels and memoirs audio books are great, but for something like this with a lot of facts and figures, I might have been better off with a print copy.  But everyone has a different learning style.

Bryson seems to go back and forth about his feelings for Australia. He says over and over again how much he loves the country but then talks at length about the things that can kill a person and about the monotonous miles between places.  About how the accommodations at one place or another are unsatisfactory or unbelievably expensive and how poor planning led to having no place to stay for the night.  Some of his difficulties make a lot more sense now that I know the book was written in 2001.

He makes Australia sound both beautiful and unforgiving at the same time.  There are detailed accounts of settlements and expeditions and facts about where they went right and, more often, where they went wrong.  About the capital of the country which is neither Sydney nor Melbourne, even though those are the cities most talked about in the news.

I had mixed feelings about this book.  I think it was supposed to be  more humorous than what I found it to be.  It felt a bit overly long.  I kept waiting to be at the end, which is never a good thing for a book.  Perhaps it was his writing style or it could have been the narrator's take on it that just didn't click for me.  I am glad to have learned a bit more about Australia, but this book just didn't click for me.

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780767903868
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/15/2001
  • Edition description: 1ST BROADW
  • Pages: 352

Meet the Author

Bill Bryson
BILL BRYSON'S many books include, most recently, I'm a Stranger Here Myself, as well as A Walk in the Woods, Lost Continent, Notes from a Small Island, and Mother Tongue. Born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1951, he lived in England for almost two decades. He now lives in Hanover, New Hampshire, with his wife and their four children.

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