Book Review: I’m a Stranger Here Myself

With a love for travel writing, it wasn’t long before I discovered the words of Bryson. (Yes, perhaps I was living under a rock) After kicking myself for putting off his books for so long, and cursing friends for not suggesting his books earlier, I’ve vowed to read each of his books in the coming year. Hopefully, there’ll be a review for each.

Bill Bryson bookThe book is a compilation of his weekly column on the quirks of living in America after two decades in Britain. Two decades. That’s a long time. I returned to Pune after just 7 years and the change left me almost paralysed, looking for the familiar places, people and experiences.

In his 288-page book, Bryson has managed to pick up the starkest differences between procedures, behaviour and businesses and a whole lot more. While he is essentially poking fun at the American way of doing things, he does it in a manner that would leave even the most patriotic of Americans in splits.

With stories from an experience as mundane as visiting the local post office to deciphering the much-dreaded tax form, Bryson manages to explain the quirkiness just as easily. What’s amazing is how he’s picked up the simplest of situations! It just makes me wonder about how much he would possibly have to write about with a visit to India.

Paper money and coins (30,274) claimed nearly as many victims as did scissors (34,062). I can just about conceive of how you might swallow a dime and then wish you hadn’t, but I cannot for the life of me construct hypothetical circumstances involving folding money and a subsequent trip to the ER. It would be interesting to meet some of these people.

Out of the 70 columns that have been published in this book, it would be truly difficult to pick a favourite. Each one has its own unique situations that will leave you either shocked at the system, laughing at the behaviours or even simply sympathizing with Bryson as he earnestly tries to make sense of what he’s going through.

It’s no surprise then that I’d suggest that everyone read this book – even if you haven’t been bitten by the reading bug – the language is just so simple and easy to understand, that I guarantee you won’t be able to keep it down.

Want to read it? Order it now.


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