Shelf Control #276: A trio of Bill Bryson books

Shelves final

Welcome to Shelf Control — an original feature created and hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies.

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up! For more info on what Shelf Control is all about, check out my introductory post, here.

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For this week’s Shelf Control post, I thought I’d focus on an author, rather than one particular title. It turns out that I have several unread books on my shelves by Bill Bryson. What am I going to do about that?

Title: In a Sunburned Country
Published: 2000

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

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 WoodsIn 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

Title: The Body: An Occupant’s Guide
Published: 2019

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

In the bestselling, prize-winning A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson achieved the seemingly impossible by making the science of our world both understandable and entertaining to millions of people around the globe.

Now he turns his attention inwards to explore the human body, how it functions and its remarkable ability to heal itself. Full of extraordinary facts and astonishing stories, The Body: A Guide for Occupants is a brilliant, often very funny attempt to understand the miracle of our physical and neurological make up.

A wonderful successor to A Short History of Nearly Everything, this book will have you marvelling at the form you occupy, and celebrating the genius of your existence, time and time again.

Title: Notes From A Small Island
Published: 1995

What it’s about (synopsis via Goodreads):

“Suddenly, in the space of a moment, I realized what it was that I loved about Britain-which is to say, all of it.”

After nearly two decades spent on British soil, Bill Bryson – bestselling author of The Mother Tongue and Made in America-decided to return to the United States. (“I had recently read,” Bryson writes, “that 3.7 million Americans believed that they had been abducted by aliens at one time or another, so it was clear that my people needed me.”) But before departing, he set out on a grand farewell tour of the green and kindly island that had so long been his home.

Veering from the ludicrous to the endearing and back again, Notes from a Small Island is a delightfully irreverent jaunt around the unparalleled floating nation that has produced zebra crossings, Shakespeare, Twiggie Winkie’s Farm, and places with names like Farleigh Wallop and Titsey. The result is an uproarious social commentary that conveys the true glory of Britain, from the satiric pen of an unapologetic Anglophile.

How and when I got them:

I bought The Body when there was a Kindle deal, but the other two are paperbacks I picked up at library sales over the years.

Why I want to read these books:

I constantly struggle with making myself read the non-fiction books on my shelves. I’ve always heard that this author’s books are fun, engaging reads, with plenty of humor as well as great descriptions and adventures. I love the sound of the topics, and know that if I ever break out of my non-stop fiction reading, I’ll enjoy them.

So… this post is a reminder to myself to read non-fiction every so often — especially these books, which I’ve been interested in for a long time, and have a feeling will really appeal to me.

Have you read any of these or other Bill Bryson books? Any you’d particularly recommend?

Please share your thoughts!


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  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
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