After living in Britain for two decades, Bill Bryson recently moved back to the United States with his English wife and four children he had read somewhere that nearly 3 million Americans believed they had been abducted by aliens as he later put it, it was clear my people needed me They were greeted by a new and improved America that boasts microwave pancakes, twenty four hour dental floss hotlines, and the staunch conviction that ice is not a luxury item Delivering the brilliant comic musings that are a Bryson hallmark, I m a Stranger Here Myself recounts his sometimes disconcerting reunion with the land of his birth The result is a book filled with hysterical scenes of one man s attempt to reacquaint himself with his own country, but it is also an extended if at times bemused love letter to the homeland he has returned to after twenty years away. This is the first Bill Bryson book I have read, which, I am told, was a mistake I know several people who consider Bryson one of their favorite authors and they all seem to agree that this book is not a good ambassador for the rest of his work This book is a collection of newspaper articles that document his move from England to the United States Most of them explain his bewilderment toward American culture and customs and often longs for the simplicity of the British lifestyle I was originally under the impression that Bryson was British himself, until I discovered that he was born in Des Moines and moved to England at 24 He has spent the same amount of time in both countries, but it seems like he prefers to consider himself British That s weird The articles are funny and short, which make for a quick read At times, however, his humor was a bit over the top and somewhat whiny I am excited to give Bryson another chance with his highly recommended A Walk in the Woods but I would not suggest this book to friends. Who says you can t go home Bryson grew up in America, married his English wife and moved to England with her Now, after 20 years across the pond, he moves back And that s when things got weird Coming back to your native land after an absence of many years is a surprisingly unsettling business, a little like waking up from a long coma Time, you discover, has wrought changes that leave you feeling mildly foolish and out of touch I suppose I feel a milder version of this whenever I visit my parents or extended relatives Reading his take on returning home was a delight and there were so many parts I could relate to.As always, I enjoyed his colorful scenarios and contemplations His signature dry humor was charming and engaging How could you not enjoy such thoughtful musings such as Christmas tree stands are the work of the devil and they want you dead His book certainly brings to light several normal things that Americans don t quite realize how out of the ordinary they truly are In the United States, frozen cheese pizza is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration Frozen pepperoni pizza, on the other hand, is regulated by the Department of Agriculture This book was a bundle of joy However, the spark that so charmed me at the beginning fizzled out it just got a bit samey samey.Audiobook CommentsGreat book if I judged solely on the power of the voice William Roberts The reader had excellent timing and tone.Blog Instagram Twitter Have you ever visited a foreign country for a length of time, to the point where you were caught up in a completely different lifestyle and society, and then when you finally returned home, you experienced a form of reverse culture shock That is what happened to Bill Bryson when he moved back to the U.S after living in England for two decades This delightful book is a collection of weekly columns he wrote for the Mail on Sunday newspaper from 1996 to 1998 Bryson has fun talking about American food, going shopping, holiday seasons, going to the movies, going to the beach, the U.S postal service, U.S tax forms, and dozens of awkward and humorous encounters he had with fellow citizens Even though some of the columns showed their age a bit such as referencing pre Internet computers and habits or they included statistics from the 1990s when Bryson was trying to make a point, the pieces were still largely relevant and got at the heart of what it was like to live in America QA Is this your favorite Bryson book No, that honor would go to A Walk in the Woods, with At Home getting second place Would you recommend this to fellow readers Yes, but I would say that I don t think it should be the first Bryson book you read The short columns are fun, but they re not as cohesive as his travelogues or history books Is this one of those times when you would recommend listening to the audiobook instead of reading the print Yes, I would Bryson is a wonderful narrator and I think I enjoyed the book because I listened to him tell these shorter stories Why are you reading so many Bill Bryson books You re getting a bit obsessive We re concerned and we re thinking of an intervention.WHOA Everyone can calm down I m not obsessed, I ve just been working my way through a collection of his audiobooks They are a delightful way to pass my daily commute to work You should try it some days a Bryson story makes me laugh so hard that it brings tears to my eyes It s a great way to start the day Now if you ll excuse me, I have to go listen to his book about visiting Australia.Some favorite quotes Coming back to your native land after an absence of many years is a surprisingly unsettling business, a little like waking from a long coma Time, you discover, has wrought changes that leave you feeling mildly foolish and out of touch You proffer hopelessly inadequate sums when making small purchases You puzzle over ATM machines and automated gas pumps and pay phones, and are astounded to discover, by means of a stern grip on your elbow, that gas station road maps are no longer free Some weeks ago I announced to my wife that I was going to the supermarket with her next time she went because the stuff she kept bringing home was how can I put this not fully in the spirit of American eating I mean, here we were living in a paradise of junk food the country that gave the world cheese in a spray can and she kept bringing home healthy stuff like fresh broccoli and packets of Swedish crispbread It was because she was English, of course She didn t really understand the rich, unrivaled possibilities for greasiness and goo that the American diet offers I longed for artificial bacon bits, melted cheese in a shade of yellow unknown to nature, and creamy chocolate fillings, sometimes all the in same product I wanted food that squirts when you bite into it or plops onto your shirt front in such gross quantities that you have to rise very, very carefully from the table and sort of limbo over to the sink to clean yourself up I m going to have to be quick because it s a Sunday and the weather is glorious and Mrs Bryson has outlined a big, ambitious program of gardening Worse, she s wearing what I nervously call her Nike expression the one that says, Just do it Now don t get me wrong Mrs Bryson is a rare and delightful creature and goodness knows my life needs structure and supervision, but when she gets out a pad and pen and writes the words Things to Do vigorously underscored several times you know it s going to be a long time till Monday On why his mother was not a great cook To be perfectly fair to her, my mother had several strikes against her in the kitchen department To begin with, she couldn t have been a great cook even if she had wanted to She had a career, you see she worked for the local newspaper, which meant that she was always flying in the door two minutes before it was time to put dinner on the table On top of this, she was a trifle absentminded Her particular specialty was to cook things while they were still in the packaging I was almost full grown before I realized that Saran Wrap wasn t a sort of chewy glaze A combination of haste, forgetfulness, and a charming incompetence where household appliances were concerned meant that most of her cooking experiences were punctuated with billows of smoke and occasional small explosions In our house, as a rule of thumb, you knew it was time to eat when the firemen departed My rating 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 When in doubt and or a funky reading mood, pick a Bill Bryson book that s my newest motto.As much as I d love to re read favourite books if only to reacquaint myself with the story characters and or to check if they still thrill me as much, it s difficult to do so, when many unread books are beckoning me to pay attention For the past month or so I ve been a reluctant reader Luckily, I m still able to listen to audiobooks So when perusing the library overdrive for audiobooks, I spotted this book and I had to download it even though I read it 10 15 years ago If the number of owned books is an indication of how much you love a certain author, then the eleven Bill Bryson books gathering dust on my bookshelf make him my favourite author My love for him, better said for his wit, humour, intelligence, sarcasm, curiosity, observation skills and snark, has reached its highest level and after all these years it s still intact.This book is a collection of weekly columns penned by Bryson between 1996 98 Dated, right Or is it Let s see mass incarceration for minor offences, injustice, the death penalty issues relating to the immense costs, inequality of who gets put to death and most importantly, people wrongly convicted still current and getting worse airline companies not doing a very good job as service providers check people being dumber and dumber, and the increasing trend of dumbing down check too much choice, too much of anything, over consumerism, disregard for the environment and conserving resources check mindless shopping check having a million and one TV channels and nothing to watch check.I m guessing most people still have to drive everywhere as most places don t make any allowances for pedestrians Things that have changed desktop computers seem to have put the serial numbers in accessible places , oh, and who remembers the last time they spoke to a real person in a company about installing setting up anything you bought from them While listening to this, I couldn t help wonder what would Bryson make of today s this and that I wish he still wrote weekly columns I would even buy a magazine newspaper subscription to read his musings.