Feeling like some light relief on holidays recently, we took along Bill Bryson’s Down Under. We read it years ago and both enjoyed it, and it did not disappoint the second time around. In fact, because on our recent long service leave we travelled to many of the areas he also travelled to, we could more easily understand and appreciate his observations and anecdotes.
Bryson’s travel books are funny. Generally laugh out loud funny. When reading a book that assesses your own country and culture you can get offended or suspect the author hasn’t really done their research. However, I found Bryson’s assessment of many Australian attributes were accurate, if generalised. From the ‘we don’t care what you think of us’ attitude of NT hotel staff, to the bemused way people in Canberra drive in circles, to the unwillingness of most Australians to face problems in our indigenous population, Bryson hits the nail on the head again and again.
Both my husband and I would be laughing aloud reading, and when we let our 11 year old son read it too, he was the same. He didn’t get all of it, but he appreciated most of the humour. Perhaps I’ll pick up some others of his for some summer reading.
(I also really enjoyed his Short History of Nearly Everything a few years ago as well as At Home.)