Bill Bryson

I don’t like reading a funny book in public, because inevitably I will come upon a passage that will cause me to laugh out loud, and then I will feel very self conscious, aware that all eyes in the vicinity have suddenly focused upon me.  Now it is reasonable to assume that the people who see me laugh will see that I am reading a book and think to themselves, “must have been something funny that he read.”  Still, I don’t like attracting the attention due to sudden and somewhat spontaneous seeming laughter.

I’ve been reading Bill Bryson’s The Lost Continentwhich Bear kindly lent to me.  I am a big fan of Bryson’s work (he is probably best know for his book A Walk in the Woods about hiking the Appalachian Trail) and his ceaseless sense of humor.  He made me laugh out loud in public today as I read during lunch, but it is okay, I forgive him because I enjoy his books too much.  Now, being the English major snob that I love to be, I will admit that Bryson’s books are not works of Shakespearean degree (which is funny because his most recent book is all about Shakespeare.  I haven’t had the opportunity to read it yet).  A lot of what Bryson writes is nonfiction travel stories, and as anybody who is into the whole literature thing may know, the merit of nonfiction books about travel can be a hotly debated topic in the literary world (I actually took a class in college called “Travel Literature” and a lot of what we talked about was whether or not a nonfiction book about a person’s travels could really be considered a valuable form of literature).  Still, even though his works might not be redefining the way we look at written language, I appreciate Bryson for his simple accessible writing and his endless ability to entertain.  Sometimes it feels real good to read something like a Bryson book, to just relax and escape for a bit.  I am also currently reading Don DeLillo’s novel Falling Man (that’s right, I’m reading two books at the same time, you know my mantra) for February’s edition of Literary Libations.  Considering that the DeLillo novel deals with 9/11 and the immediate aftermath in New York City there is quite a contrast between that book and Bryson’s easy going narrative.  I leave DeLillo at home to read before bed or in the morning and bring Bryson to work to pick up during my lunch break because I don’t feel like reading anything too depressing while I am also trying to eat (though I have little problem with depressing material before trying to go to bed . . .weird).  If you haven’t read anything of his I recommend picking up something of Bill Bryson’s.  He is yet to disappoint me.

~ by Nathaniel on February 1, 2008.

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