Post by Mark T. Locker.
In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
Bill Bryson is one of those authors who can (and usually does) write about just about anything and make it remarkably interesting. He can make you chuckle at the most unlikely subjects or give a murmur of wonder at what always seemed so boring. Upon finishing a chapter in this book all about hallways, I felt terrible for how I’d been treating them all my life! He has written about language, travel, history, science, and a memoir. It seems there isn’t a subject that doesn’t interest him nor one he’s not afraid to tackle.
In a Sunburned Country is one of his travel books, which are my favorite of his multitude of genres. In this one, he travels to Australia to explore geography, culture, and history, always keeping an eye out for things that make him (and probably you) chuckle. Full of interesting and quirky facts (did you know Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt disappeared in 1967 after a spontaneous swim?) historical tidbits, and thought-provoking insights all rolled into one book make for an intriguing read. What I like about Bryson’s travel writings is that in any cultural confusions or misunderstandings, he is more than happy to turn the pen against himself and illustrate his own shortcomings in the situation. If he makes amusing observations about Australia, the ones about himself are twice as ruthless. So you never feel like he is being mean or culturally insensitive. In fact, he makes it clear just how much he loves this country.
He makes me love Australia too, and though I’ve never been, this book makes me want to book a flight right away. Nobody writes with the same wry insight, silly humor, and serious introspection so deftly as this.