jksquires, April 10, 2013 (view all comments by jksquires)
I just discovered Bill Bryson by accident last year, when I picked up a copy of his excellent "Home" and was hooked. In a Sunburned Country was my sixth Bryson read, and I've yet to be disappointed. In felt, I remarked to my sister that I felt sad when I finished this one, feeling I'd just said a fond goodbye to my favorite traveling companion. Bryson has a way of taking you with him, side by side, every step of the way on his literary journeys. You also learn a very great deal from every one of his books, but the acquisition of knowledge is not at all taxing--it comes with great pleasure. I now know more about Australian settlement, history and climate, along with all the variety of strange flora and fauna. He's also a very funny man! Goodbye for now, Bill, but I can hardly wait to join you on the next trip--in fact, I've already ordered the book!
Suzanne Covington, January 2, 2013 (view all comments by Suzanne Covington)
If you've never been to Australia, or even if you have, this book offers a funny and insightful look at the country. Bill Bryson's powers of observation give the reader a sense of being there with a witty travelling companion who is just a bit cynical. He explores Australia encountering major landmarks and cities, wonderful people, small towns, and endless miles of bush country. Throughout his journey, Bryson conveys to the reader his deep appreciation of all the unique things that comprise the "Sunburned Country."
Michael Steffens, January 1, 2010 (view all comments by Michael Steffens)
This is probably my favorite book ever, and makes me want to visit Australia every time I read it, until Bill describes all the things in Australia that will kill you and I remember that I am terrified of snakes. Australia has a LOT of snakes. The rest of it, though, is funny and lovely and inspiring, and I read it at least every two months. He is sometimes called a travel writer and sometimes a humorist, but I think of him as a "character writer", writing about things that make up the character of everywhere and everyone he visits.
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Sarah, July 23, 2007 (view all comments by Sarah)
I read this book a few years ago and since then it has passed through every member of my family and I am still entertaining friends with stories from the book. Bill Bryson brings his familiar writing style to a truly amazing country with tales of animals that can not only kill you but ones that almost destroyed the whole country, a political culture that is as hilarious as it is serious, and true appreciation of Australia's numerous amazing cities and rural areas.
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"He glorifies the country, alternating between awe, reverence and fear, and he expresses these sentiments with frankness and candor, via truly funny prose and a conversational pace that is at once unhurried and captivating." Publishers Weekly
"Bryson...is one heck of a witty, intelligent, wry, opinionated, frequently salacious, and always entertaining writer whose books are a treat not to be denied." Library Journal
by David Pitt, Booklist,
"His books are, quite simply, among the best and most rewarding travel literature ever written — head, shoulders, and torso above most of the competition — and this new title is a guaranteed winner."
"Bryson is a real traveler, the kind of guy who can be entertained by (and be entertaining about) a featureless landscape scattered with rocks the color of bad teeth. Fortunately for him and for us, there's a lot more to Australia than that." Kirkus Reviews
by Chicago Tribune,
"What the indefatigable, keenly observant Bryson did a few years back for the Applachian Trail with A Walk in the Woods...he does now for the generally undiscovered land Down Under."
by New York Times,
"Vastly entertaining....If there is one book with which to get oriented before departure or en route to Australia, this is it."
Beginning with the Neapolitan saying, and#147;Every cockroach is beautiful to its mother,and#8221; Schweid goes on to explain how cockroaches have been living on earth since long before humans, and continue to thriveand#151;over five thousand species of themand#151;everywhere we live, and many places we donand#8217;t.and#160; As Schweid writes in his new foreword, people always remember their encounters with cockroaches, so the bugs provide him with memorable stories about what scares us, what inspires us, what weand#8217;re willing to put up with, and what we need.and#160; Illustrated with photographs and drawings, enlivened with references from literature, interviews with exterminators and biologists, and accounts from the authorand#8217;s own travels, this witty and thoughtful compendium will tell you more than you want to know about cockroaches . . . and quite a bit about the human race as well.
Skittering figures of urban legendand#151;and a ubiquitous realityand#151;cockroaches are nearly as abhorred as they are ancient. Even as our efforts to exterminate them have developed into ever more complex forms of chemical warfare, roachesand#8217; basic design of six legs, two hypersensitive antennae, and one set of voracious mandibles has persisted unchanged for millions of years. But as Richard Schweid shows in The Cockroach Papers, while some species of these evolutionary superstars do indeed plague our kitchens and restaurants, exacerbate our asthma, and carry disease, our belief in their total villainy is ultimately misplaced.
Traveling from New York City to Louisiana, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Morocco, Schweid blends stories of his own squirm-inducing roach encounters with meticulous research to spin a tale both humorous and harrowing. As he investigates roachesand#8217; more nefarious interactions with our speciesand#151;particularly with those of us living at the margins of societyand#151;Schweid also explores their astonishing diversity, how they mate, what theyand#8217;ll eat, and what weand#8217;ve written about them (from Kafka and Nelson Algren to archy and mehitabel). Knowledge soon turns into respect, and Schweid looks beyond his own fears to arrive at an uncomfortable truth: We humans are no more peaceful, tidy, or responsible about taking care of the Earth or each other than these tiny creatures that swarm in the dark corners of our minds, homes, and cereal boxes.
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