In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson

In a Sunburned Country

A CLASSIC FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF ONE SUMMER 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,...

Title:In a Sunburned Country
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0767903862
Edition Language:English
Number of Pages:335 pages

In a Sunburned Country Reviews

  • Collette

    Ok! First of all I'm here to tell you that non-fiction is normally not my bag. I think I got this book because I forgot to send in the "do not send" notice in a book club. That said..... I'm soooo happy that I didn't and I "made" myself read this. OMG!!! I lost track of how many times I laughed until there were tears running down my cheeks and how many smiles and chuckles it rang out of me!

    This is a book about Bryson's trips (I believe he combines a few trips to "Oz" into this one book) to the

    Ok! First of all I'm here to tell you that non-fiction is normally not my bag. I think I got this book because I forgot to send in the "do not send" notice in a book club. That said..... I'm soooo happy that I didn't and I "made" myself read this. OMG!!! I lost track of how many times I laughed until there were tears running down my cheeks and how many smiles and chuckles it rang out of me!

    This is a book about Bryson's trips (I believe he combines a few trips to "Oz" into this one book) to the really undiscovered island of Australia and his impressions of what he sees and who he meets. There is history, wonderfully funny and horribly gruesome and sad stories, lodging and traveling tips and a long list of places there that I really now want to see.

    His wit and sarcastic humor is what did it for me. I will look for more of his books and hope that he goes on more journeys to share with his reading audience.

  • Martine

    I developed a taste for Bill Bryson last year when I read his

    , an ambitious attempt to trace the history of life, the universe and everything in just 574 pages. While many of the scientific discoveries outlined in the book were a little beyond me, I thoroughly enjoyed Bryson's descriptions of the larger-than-life personalities behind the discoveries, which really brought the science described to life. So when I found out that he had also written a travelogue of

    I developed a taste for Bill Bryson last year when I read his

    , an ambitious attempt to trace the history of life, the universe and everything in just 574 pages. While many of the scientific discoveries outlined in the book were a little beyond me, I thoroughly enjoyed Bryson's descriptions of the larger-than-life personalities behind the discoveries, which really brought the science described to life. So when I found out that he had also written a travelogue of a journey across the country I may soon call home -- Australia -- I simply had to read it.

    Australia, for those of you who have never been there, is one of the most colourful places on earth. It has a history so bizarre that it makes China's seem normal by comparison. It has insane expanses of the most arid desert imaginable, as well as some of the world's most beautiful beaches, where unfortunately you can't swim due to the prevalence of sharks, crocs, box jellyfish, stingrays and murderous rip currents. It houses beyond a shadow of a doubt the world's most interesting flora and fauna, including twelve-foot earthworms and living fossils. (And you thought kangaroos were exotic. Ha.) And if all that weren't interesting enough, the locals are slightly mad. They eat meat pies floating in pea soup, are crazy about cricket and consider shorts and knee-length socks proper attire for middle-aged bus drivers. In short, it's a unique place and I love it. I look forward to moving there in a few months' time.

    Bill Bryson also loves Australia, and it shows. While he likes to remind his readers of the country's amazing collection of deathly animals (over and over again) and poke fun at the locals and their weird habits, his affection for the place shines through in every chapter, and it's quite infectious. By describing his own travels and those of early settlers, explorers and naturalists, he provides the reader with an appreciation for how vast and unwelcoming the country is, and how utterly unique. He provides background information on events of which few non-Australians will have heard (such as the fact that a nuclear bomb may have been detonated in the outback without anyone noticing, and that an Australian Prime Minister once vanished, never to be seen again), waxes lyrical on trees and animals so bizarre that you'll want to hop on the first plane to Australia to check them out for yourself (again, kangaroos are only the beginning), explains why you should go and see Ayers Rock even if you've already seen hundreds of photos of it, and intersperses all this useful information with a winning combination of self-deprecating humour, bizarre anecdotes, absurd dialogue and entertaining accounts of encounters with fellow travellers and locals. The resulting book is not only completely recognisable to anyone who has visited Australia, but hugely appealing to anyone who hasn't. I doubt anyone can read this book without wishing to book a flight to Oz immediately afterwards.

    If I have any complaint about

    , it is that there is too little of it. While Bryson's writing is entertaining and informative, his choice of places to visit and describe seems rather random and limited. I wish he had done more travelling, gone further into the interior of the country and left all traces of luxury behind him for a while, so as to emulate the pioneers and explorers whose exploits he relates with such gusto. I also think the book would have benefited from slightly more rigorous editing, as parts of it seem rather hastily written. For all its small flaws, though,

    (released in the US as

    ) is a fascinating read which has whetted my appetite for more Bryson travelogues. And for a return to Oz, but that's another story.

  • Diane

    I love Australia, even though I have never been there. It has amazing wilderness and is the setting of beautiful movies; it exports talented actors, actresses and directors; it has that Great Barrier Reef thingy, which is apparently so wonderful that is is a Natural Wonder of the World; and it is home to the stunning Sydney Opera House. And oh yeah, Aussies gave us UGGs. So we have a lot to thank them for.

    Bill Bryson also loved Australia, so much so that he spent months touring its cities and th

    I love Australia, even though I have never been there. It has amazing wilderness and is the setting of beautiful movies; it exports talented actors, actresses and directors; it has that Great Barrier Reef thingy, which is apparently so wonderful that is is a Natural Wonder of the World; and it is home to the stunning Sydney Opera House. And oh yeah, Aussies gave us UGGs. So we have a lot to thank them for.

    Bill Bryson also loved Australia, so much so that he spent months touring its cities and the Outback. Bryson employed his usual humor in this travelogue, and numerous sections had me laughing out loud, sometimes embarrassingly so. But he would also wax rhapsodic about how amazing the land was:

    Bryson gets into his fair share of scrapes during his Australian journey, and at one point he and his traveling companion are in danger of running out of both fuel and water while in the Outback. Luckily, no serious harm was done.

    Another close encounter was with a bluebottle jellyfish. Bryson and his guide, Deirdre, were boogie boarding at Freshwater Beach near Manly, when Deirdre suddenly grabbed Bryson's arm and stopped him from advancing toward the "bluey," as Deirdre called it. At the time, Bryson didn't know what she meant by "bluey."

    HAHAHA! Bryson is a hoot, you guys. There is so much more great stuff in this book, and I could type out pages of other funny stories, but I shall leave you to discover it for yourself. Like all of his travelogues, he shares interesting historical details about the places he visits, and he's good at making fun of himself and his bumbling ways. I enjoyed this so much and I laughed so hard and so often that this has become one of my favorite Bryson books. If you like audiobooks, I highly recommend listening to Bryson narrate this. It's marvelous.

    My rating: 4.5 stars rounded up to 5

  • Andrew Smith

    Having travelled briefly through parts of Queensland and New South Wales several years ago, I'd been waiting to catch up with Bryson's book ever since. I now wish I'd read it before I travelled or even during the trip itself. It's full interesting information and ideas for places to visit and gave me loads of laughs. A really good read whether you're planning a trip or just looking to enjoy BB's hilariously entertaining anecdotes.

    I've read a few of his books in the past and I do find him to be

    Having travelled briefly through parts of Queensland and New South Wales several years ago, I'd been waiting to catch up with Bryson's book ever since. I now wish I'd read it before I travelled or even during the trip itself. It's full interesting information and ideas for places to visit and gave me loads of laughs. A really good read whether you're planning a trip or just looking to enjoy BB's hilariously entertaining anecdotes.

    I've read a few of his books in the past and I do find him to be an interesting companion, as I've travelled with him. His books on visits to the UK in particular are great fun (even if he pokes fun at some places quite close to my heart). I'm not sure how accurate some of his adventures are - they seem a bit tuned for laughs to me - but that's ok, it's what you pick up a book like this for I think.

    I'd recommend this book to anyone thinking about a trip to Oz or readers who just enjoy tales of travel and amusing things that can happen when you're in the hands of a natural raconteur.

  • Jason Koivu

    I love Bill Bryson. Yep, it's a full-blown, one-sided bromance. Bryson could write a book about the history of the individual rooms within the typical house and I would love it (he did and I did)! So, when I discovered he'd written about his experiences while traveling Australia, I knew I'd found my next good read!

    takes in the Land Down-Under, from today traveling all the way back to its earliest historical findings. You expect and get a look at modern Australia, its UK-c

    I love Bill Bryson. Yep, it's a full-blown, one-sided bromance. Bryson could write a book about the history of the individual rooms within the typical house and I would love it (he did and I did)! So, when I discovered he'd written about his experiences while traveling Australia, I knew I'd found my next good read!

    takes in the Land Down-Under, from today traveling all the way back to its earliest historical findings. You expect and get a look at modern Australia, its UK-convict days, Sydney and other cities, the bush, the outback, and the plight, trials and importance of the aborigines.

    All of the above also comes with a healthy dose of Bryson humor. It's self-deprecating, it's consciously delusional for comedy's sake, it's honest and it gives me the chuckles. I appreciate that he puts himself in awkward situations and really enjoy his description of scenes in which he is a participating victim. Australia has countless ways to kill a person, what with all its deadly animals, so there's plenty of opportunity for hair-raising hilarity, especially considering Bryson's the sort of guy who could get himself savaged by a hedgehog.

    Fun is fun and all, but in the end this book is about the learning, so if you have an interest in learning more about Australia I couldn't recommend another book more highly. The author has a love for learning, as well as the subject at hand, so the reader is treated to a veritable love-fest spewed all over the pages of

    !


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