Written By: Bill Bryson

Narrated By: Bill Bryson

Date: July 2000

Duration: 5 hours 40 minutes


Bill Bryson is an unabashed Anglophile who, through a mistake of history, happened to be born and bred in Iowa. Righting that error, he spent 20 years in England before deciding to repatriate. This was partly to let his wife and children experience life in Bryson's homeland - and partly because he had read that 3.7 million Americans believed that they had been abducted by aliens at one time or another. It was thus clear to him that his people needed him. But before leaving his much-loved home in North Yorkshire, Bryson insisted on taking one last trip around Britain. His aim was to take stock of modern-day Britain, and to analyze what he loved so much about a country that produced Marmite, zebra crossings, and place names like Farleigh Wallop, Titsey, and Shellow Bowells.


  • hyperbole lover

    Bill Bryson is funny and interesting. I know that some people hate his voice, I happen to enjoy it. It adds to his quirky sense of humor. Classic Bill Bryson.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Jim F.

    Bill Bryson is always entertaining and informative. His narratives have allowed me to visualize places I have never been, and revisit places I have been to with a different perspective.

  • CJ

    I am new to the Bill Bryson bandwagon - I know, where have I been?... As a dual citizen who has spent a lot of time in both England and America, I thought I'd find a lot to love in this book. It had a promising start, I liked Mr. Bryson's humour (at first)... Then reality kicked in. I don't know whether Bryson was trying to convince himself he was doing the right thing in moving away from England and back to the States, but for all his "don't get me wrong - I love England" pronouncements, he didn't seem to find much to love (or even like) about any of the places or people he encountered. After a while the jokes rang hollow, and I found myself wondering "To what book were all those 5-star ratings referring?!" I don't ever write reviews, but I really was SO disappointed with Bryson's tone, attitude, and narrative that I had to add my two cents. Another country heard from, shall we say...

  • Anonymous

    I laughed out loud at times! Bill Bryson has a way with bringing you on the trip with him as he moves around the public transport system of Britian. Very enjoyable. As always Bill Bryson never fails to entertain.

  • Anonymous

    I really like Bill Bryson books and although I really like his travel books, I didn't find as detail as I have his other travel books. His sense of humor helps me understand what it would really be like to visit some of the places he mentions. I'll continue to read his books as I will never travel as much as he does, but will get a sense of the place through his eyes and humor which seem to be along the same waves as mine.

  • Anonymous

    A wonderfully funny book and hearing the author read it was even better than reading it myself. Don't be fooled by the music that swells up at odd times; the book isn't over (and the music will go away). A great summertime book for the long drive to the lake or beach.

  • Taos B&B lady

    Perhaps it helps to be English or to have lived in England for a longish time to really appreciate Bryson's wry observations, droll commentary and no punches pulled opinions. For those of us who fit that criterion, the book is an absolute gem as Bryson gives eloquent voice to our thoughts and feelings about the Highlands, the Fens and Dales, Dover, Brit rail and Calais shopping. Hw writes like the Anglophile he is and can point out warts and scars that only a lover would know.

  • Melissa Menz

    When I first started listening, I was immediately reminded of David Sedaris. Their styles are very similar and quite enjoyable. This is a laugh-out-loud kind of book and kept me smiling all the way through.

  • Anonymous

    Bill Byrson is as witty as ever. And this also could double as a 'real person' travelogue -- found myself wanting to map my own UK trip using the book as a travel guide.

  • Anonymous

    however I did not love this book. As I have never been to Britain, it could certainly just be that I couldn't relate. His typical dry humor was present, I just couldn't keep my mind on it. Anyway, I just don't think this was his best work. Not bad but worth a listen.

  • Chris

    I am a big fan of bill bryson, having listened to Walk in the woods, Sunburned Country and Short History, and think the man is hilarious. But this one couldn't keep my interest. When it was slapsticky, or very mean, it was funny, but i found myself not really listening to it most of the time, and just wanting to be done with it. Listen to A Walk in the Woods or In a Sunburned Country if you have never listened to Bill Bryson before. Sorry I can't be more specific about what I didn't like, but I just don't remember any of the book, and I think that says something.

  • Jane Gordon

    After I listened to "A Walk in the Woods", I had to get another Bryson novel. I'm addicted to his odd lilting accent. This audiobook was light & funny. Don't view it as a travel guide, just an entertaining narrated tour through Britain. Bryson's observations of all things trivial and wretched about society are hilarious, at times so funny that I laughed out loud in my car! If you have ever been to Britain, you will identify with almost all of his remarks. If you haven't been, this book may very well inspire you to book a ticket. Only got boring a few times when he complained about ugly buildings, poor urban planning and 1960's architecture, but I completely agreed with him so I didn't mind.

  • Tonytoga

    Notes From A Small Island is vintage Bill Bryson. His witt and humor are at least half the fun of his work and when he narrates (as he does here), his most unusual accent adds that much more. In "Notes", Bill takes us back to the first time he set foot on British soil as a footloose American searching for who knows what and brings the 20 year adventure full circile with one last trip around jolly ole England before returning to the U.S. with wife and family. Not quite as entertaining as "In A Sunburned Country" but close.

Notes From a Small Island

by Bill Bryson

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