• Notes from a Small Island

  • By: Bill Bryson
  • Narrated by: Bill Bryson
  • Length: 5 hrs and 39 mins
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (743 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Bill Bryson is an unabashed Anglophile who, through a mistake of history, happened to be born and bred in Iowa. Righting that error, he spent 20 years in England before deciding to repatriate. This was partly to let his wife and children experience life in Bryson's homeland - and partly because he had read that 3.7 million Americans believed that they had been abducted by aliens at one time or another. It was thus clear to him that his people needed him. But before leaving his much-loved home in North Yorkshire, Bryson insisted on taking one last trip around Britain. His aim was to take stock of modern-day Britain, and to analyze what he loved so much about a country that produced Marmite, zebra crossings, and place names like Farleigh Wallop, Titsey, and Shellow Bowells.

©1998 Bill Bryson (P)1998 Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio Publishing, Bantam Doubleday Dell, A Division of Random House Inc.

What listeners say about Notes from a Small Island

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Crackin' yarn, lad!

My path and Mr. Bryson's were reversed - I grew up in Yorkshire and have spent the last twenty years living in the US. This may not be the best guide book to the UK, but as a love letter to a wonderfully imperfect but perfectly wonderful place, I thought he nailed it. I got "the look" from my wife several times because I was laughing too loudly. I enjoyed this more than "A Walk In The Woods" and "I'm a Stranger Here Myself".

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

a funny trail

I enjoyed this episode in Bill Bryson's life. It was obvious that his adopted country was a place he loved dearly, and who could blame him after living the the "Dales" for so long; it's a wonderful place. But home always calls you, even after 20 years. His style of humor is always funny. I dont always agree with his opinions, but his writing is always amusing. I particularly enjoyed his chosen method of transportation and his appropriate lack of planning. It had me chuckling for hours.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Idiocyncrasies of Anglophiles

Bryson writes so well that you regret the need to put his books down. His descriptions of the UK are right on, and his love of the place and of his family touch the reader in an unprepared for way. If you are traveling to the UK read this book, if you have ever traveled to the UK read this book, if you never intend to go anyway near the UK, read this book.

5 people found this helpful

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The Abridged Version, Alas

Love Bill Bryson, only knocking off a star because I didn't realize this was the abridged version of the book until I started listening

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Laughed Out Loud

I loved this book and listened to it twice! Bill Bryson's humor is rather dry, but so great. What fun.

2 people found this helpful

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Laugh Out Loud Funny

Bill Bryson is such an entertaining writer I don't know why I waited so long to read this book. My husband listened to it with me, and we had such a fit of giggles at one point that I immediately bought Neither Here Nor There, which we listened to with equal pleasure straight after this book. Even if you don't intend to travel to England anytime soon, viewing the country from his American perspective is a blast.

1 person found this helpful

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Bill Bryson--Need I Say More?

If you've read any of Bill Bryson's other books you know what to expect. He writes as though he's having a conversation with you, telling you about his latest discovery, which may or may not be interesting, but his telling of it most certainly will be. In the case of "Notes From a Small Island," Bryson invites you to see things from the perspective of an American who's made Great Britain his home for the past twenty years. So, whether you're American or British, you have something to learn from his unique perspective. His figurative language alone would make his books worth reading.
My main complaint with all the Bryson audible books is that he narrates them. I have no doubt that his ability to pronounce and emphasize words just the way he intended them is an advantage. But he sounds as though he has swollen tonsils, and coupled with a tendency to raise and lower his voice, there were times when I had to guess at what he was trying to say. Then, near the end, someone thought it would be a good idea to pop in a random bit of music and it was even harder to hear his voice over the instruments. Despite all this, I will most likely listen to more Bryson books, because they make wonderful companions on walks or while doing chores.

1 person found this helpful

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I may be biased, but....

As a Brit living in the US, I absolutely love this heartwarming and hilarious account of Bill Bryson's trek around our beautiful island. I laughed and cried and laughed again, and having read the paperback twice and now listened to the audiobook, I want to go home ❤️.

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Bryson is funny

Bill Bryson writes well and funny HOWEVER terrible reading. why is he reading with a British accent? ruined a food book. was very disappointed 😞 .
The guy who narrated " A walk in the woods" was better.

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a good read for my walks

the negativity in the beginning bugged me. then it flowed in a much sweeter and jovial way, and i enjoyed the rest. the one odd thing was some music that was plopped down in the middle of a middle chapter, which was too loud and entirely unnecessary. otherwise a nice read to help get me away from the current mess. i wish i’d been along for his walks.