In A Sunburned Country

In A Sunburned Country

Book - 2000
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Every time Bill Bryson walks out the door memorable travel literature threatens to break out.  His previous excursion up, down, and over the Appalachian Trail (well, most of it) resulted in the sublime national bestsellerA Walk in the Woods.  Now he has traveled across the world and all the way Down Under to Australia, a shockingly under-discovered country with the friendliest inhabitants, the hottest, driest weather, and the most peculiar and lethal wildlife to be found on the planet. In a Sunburned Countryis his report on what he found there--a deliciously funny, fact-filled, and adventurous performance by a writer who combines humor, wonder, and unflagging curiosity. Australia is a country that exists on a vast scale.  It is the only island that is also a continent and the only continent that is also a country.  Despite being the most desiccated, infertile, and climatically aggressive of all inhabited continents, it teems with life.  In fact, Australia has more things that can kill you in extremely nasty ways than anywhere else: sharks, crocodiles, the ten most deadly poisonous snakes on the planet, fluffy yet toxic caterpillars, seashells that actually attack you, and the unbelievable box jellyfish (don't ask).  The dangerous riptides of the sea and the sun-baked wastes of the outback both lie in wait for the unwary.  It's one tough country. Bill Bryson adores it, of course, and he takes his readers on a rollicking ride far beyond the beaten tourist path. Here is a place where interesting things happen all the time, from a Prime Minister lost--yes, lost--while swimming at sea to Japanese cult members who may have set off an atomic bomb (sic) entirely unnoticed on their 500,000-acre property in the great western desert. Wherever he goes (and Bryson goes just about everywhere) he finds Australians who are cheerful, extroverted, and unfailingly obliging--the beaming products of a land with clean, safe cities, cold beer, and constant sunshine. On occasion the Aborigines, a remote and mysterious race with a tragic history, make a haunting appearance in this book.  But by and large Australia is an immense and fortunate land, and it has found in Bill Bryson its perfect guide.   Published just in time for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney,In a Sunburned Countryoffers the best of all possible introductions to what may well be the best of all possible nations. Even with those jellyfish.
Publisher: [Canada] : Doubleday, 2000.
ISBN: 9780385259408
Characteristics: x, 307 p. :,ill., maps ;,25 cm.


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SCL_BethZ Jul 06, 2018

A great armchair travel book. Our staff brought it to a read-aloud program for seniors and the selections we read generated lots of interest and discussion. It's getting to be a bit out of date, but still a lovely read.

Jun 06, 2018

A bit out of date, but worth a read nonetheless. It's very funny, I found myself laughing out loud at various points in the book. I learned a lot about Australia too. Bryson weaves history, facts and stats effortlessly into this entertaining travelogue.

SPPL_János Mar 21, 2018

Bryson tackles Australia with wit and wonder, musing on its bounty of poisonous animals, its utopian chumminess, its addled explorers, the inexplicability of cricket, and its delightful inhabitants. Quite possibly his most enjoyable book yet.

Jan 31, 2018

If you like Bryson, you'll enjoy this one. He keeps his readers laughing while venturing to a new and, in this case, very far off lands. While he can get dramatic at time (no Bill, you will not die of shark attack nor snake bite) he weaves historical events and odd interactions so wonderfully into his journeys - without having to take a 15 hour plane ride.

GCPL_Angela Oct 30, 2017

Classic Bryson -- full of interesting facts, witty rejoinders, and amusing anecdotes. I laughed out loud several times, and I learned quite a lot about Australia. A great choice for the armchair traveler.

Jul 31, 2017

Great Bryson. Not as crabby as he is in later books. He does a great job balancing travel narrative, personal experience, and historical connections. Definitely worth your time to read it.

Jun 13, 2017

The book is a bit dated now but still well worth a read. You'll never find a more entertaining travel companion than Bill Bryson and the glimpses of Australia that he offers are quite intriguing.

Feb 24, 2017

Still a great read if a tad dated. So many changes in the interval -communications for one- must have altered that lovely country too.

Jul 02, 2015

Brilliant, laugh-out-loud funny, classic Bryson.

Sep 10, 2014

I’d left this book, freshly checked out from the library and not yet cracked open, on the dining table and gone upstairs, leaving my partner still seated at the table finishing his morning coffee. A few short minutes later, I heard some strange gurgly sort of sounds emanating from the main floor below. The sounds were sort of human like, but not the sort of noise you routinely make while sipping your mug of morning brew. “Is this a medical emergency?”, I wondered, slightly alarmed. My partner does, after all, have a heart condition. “Is the cat regurgitating a larger than usual volume of barely-begun-to-be-digested Fancy Feast?” As I sat at my computer trying to determine the source of this aural outburst and pondering whether the noise indicated a situation urgent enough to demand further investigation, it dawned on me – the book!....those gurgled snorts I was hearing through the floorboards were the sort of fits of laughter that emanate from a fellow who does not laugh out loud easily or often. My partner, a fellow fan of Bryson, must have noticed this book on the table, picked it up, and started to read. I smiled and relaxed, relieved that all was well, I didn’t need to leap into action to deal an animal or human emergency, and pleased that some good fun, in print format and authored by Bill Bryson, was readily at hand.

So there you have it. This book will have you laughing a short while into it, and you will find yourself sputtering with amusement at regular intervals. Bryson has a gift for writing in a manner that is both informative - it`s a travel book, so you will learn about Australian history, geography and culture - and entertaining, often to the point of laugh-out-loud funny. The humour is often self-deprecating, other times it pokes fun, but not in an unkind way (ok, except perhaps for some of what he writes about Canberra). The friend who recommended this book to me wryly commented that the take-home message for her was that pretty much everything you may encounter in Australia will either kill you or seriously harm you, given the right circumstances - poisonous and otherwise nasty creatures, harsh and at times and places unforgiving climate and geography etc - and while there is certainly a goodly dosage of that served up (!), Bryson also illustrates the challenges posed by the general vast emptiness of the country interspersed with descriptions of unique and unsurpassed beauty to behold, interesting, amusing and poignant historical accounts of how Australia was discovered and settled, and encounters and conversations he has with some of the people he meets as he explores the country.

Go ahead, read "In a Sunburned Country" during your bus commute – your fellow passengers just might wonder how come you are having so much fun on an otherwise dreary bus ride and be envious. Either that or they`ll think you are slightly loopy, in which case you will make their commute more interesting and amusing.

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Sep 10, 2014

On television the green of the House of Representatives has a decidedly bilious look, as if the members are debating inside someone's pancreas.....

Sep 10, 2014

Nervously I quickened my pace. Dogs don't like me. It is a simple law of the universe, like gravity. I am not exaggerating when I say that I have never passed a dog that didn't act as if it thought I was about to take its Alpo. Dogs that have not moved from the sofa in years will, at the sniff of me passing outside, rise in fury and hurl themselves at shut windows. I have seen tiny dogs, no bigger than a fluffy slipper, jerk little old ladies off their feet and drag them over open ground in a quest to get at my blood and sinew. Every dog on the face of the earth wants me dead.

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