After spending two decades living in England, author Bill Bryson moved his family (including English born wife and kids) back to the country of his birth, the United States. A British publication contacted Bryson about writing a newspaper column regarding his thoughts on returning to America and on the differences between American and British living. Bryson's book, I'm a Stranger Here Myself, is a compilation of those articles.
This particular book has sat on my TBR shelf for years, way before I ever met Dan. It was gathering dust for so long, that I didn't remember exactly what it was about, until a few days ago, when I plucked it off of the shelf and reread the back cover. I then got excited and immediately started to read it, as I thought that it might be helpful with explaining some of the cultural differences that Dan and I encounter and a timely read before my March trip to England.
Nope. Not really.
I felt like only about half of the chapters were even relevant to the theme. A lot seemed to be about modern life (computers, transportation, globalization) rather than the differences between the United States and the United Kingdom. I think this is natural, as Bryson often reflected on his childhood in America, but he didn't bring about a unique or interesting perspective to the subjects.
As with most collections, some chapters were more interesting than others. I found myself skimming through about a third of the book. It's a quick read, although I wish it had been more entertaining and engaging.
This is not to say that I didn't find bits funny. One thing that I have learned through dating Dan, is that the sense of humor between Americans and Brits is very different. Obviously it's different, but what I mean is It's different in a way that you just don't pick up on from watching movies and reading books, it's much more apparent when you are surrounded by it all of the time. Bryson's years in England have definitely made his sense of humor less American and it comes across strong in his writing. I don't know that I would have picked up on this if not for having Dan in my life.
As a fan of Bryson, I am sad to report that this is not one of his best efforts.