“The Road to Little Dribbling” contains Bill Bryson’s most recent humorous musings about his travel experiences. This time he is back in Great Britain and he has a lot to say about a lot of things, much of it having nothing to do with travel.
The underlying premise of this book is that Bryson decides to travel between the farthest points in Great Britain and visit sites of interest along the way. He spends a lot of time on the coast, but also travels through the Lake Country and the Scottish highlands. He experiences a spectrum of different economic conditions – some towns are thriving and others are in distress. He writes about interesting museums and historic sites and peppers his stories with facts that are often both obscure and humorous. Overall, he seems to love Great Britain but that doesn’t stop him from poking a lot of fun at it.
I enjoy travel and so I found the descriptions of the places he visited interesting. But the reason I like reading Bill Bryson’s books is his humor. I read “A Walk in the Woods” a couple of years ago and Bryson seems to have gotten grumpier since writing that book. Reading this book is kind of like seeing Great Britain through the eyes of a grouchy older man who doesn’t have much of a verbal filter and so he says funny things like:
“That is the problem with Scotland, I find. You never know whether the next person you meet is going to offer you his bone marrow or nut you with his forehead.”
And, like a grouchy older man, he often goes off on tangential tirades about topics ranging from the current deplorable state of punctuation to the terrible littering habits of Britons. This was part of his commentary on retail salespeople:
“I’m a generous soul – anyone will tell you that except for those who know me fairly well – but there is a limit to how much I will pay for shampoo, even for someone who has given me children.”
Even his tangents are funny.
Overall, I liked the book, although it wouldn’t make my Top 100 list . It made me laugh many times. It’s the kind of book you can read at your own pace. Because there’s not really a plot to follow, you can read a few chapters and then set it aside for a few weeks and pick it back up when you need a little more humor in your world. That’s probably how I would have read it had I not been racing against the library’s expiration date.