Last fall, when I was long-term house-sitting for a family in my church, I discovered that they had a fantastic collection of books. Particularly notable to me were the Harry Potter books, travel writer Bill Bryson, and British novelist Alexander McCall Smith. The Harry Potter books were devoured in about a month, and the others were pushed aside for later. Although I wasn't able to read any of Bryson's books at the time, the name and subject matter stuck in my head. I just finished reading his travelogue of Australia, called "In a Sunburned Country." I think it's a rather impressively-sized book, until I remember that the only place I could get it at the library was in the large-print section.
I really, really liked the book! I don't know why I picked that one out of all Bryson's other books; I have no particular affinity for Australia. But now after reading the book, it is now on my list of places to visit in my lifetime. Since I'm running out of time (Panera closes in 15 minutes and I don't have internet access anywhere else) I will condense my "reasons I like Bill Bryson" into a handy list.
--He has a dry, sarcastic sense of humor. (I laughed out loud several times while reading.)
--He has a big vocabulary, and isn't afraid to use it.
--He often combines the two above mentioned items to underhandedly insult waiters and hotel staff where he has had poor service.
--All of his 'favorite' places in Australia were the out-of-the-way, quaint and charming, hidden gems of the country (continent?).
--He is acutely aware of his dorkiness, yet unashamed of it.
--He was able to combine his research about Australia and his travels in it into a funny, charming, and educational book!
Plus, Australia is just a stinking cool country/continent. Go read the book!