Bill Bryson does it again. This book is chock full of interesting tidbits. Just endlessly fascinating and covers a wide range history as usual. There are just so many things in here I’d never heard of, but am now fascinated by, things like Skara Brae, the Crystal Palace, Addison Mizner, Edison’s concrete houses, coade stone.
Even things I knew about I have completely new appreciation for now. Things like the Erie Canal, the Monadnock in Chicago, the salt and pepper on our tables, even rats! This man cannot contain himself. He set out to simply write about the things around his home, but each knew item opens a pandora’s box of history behind it, and I’m glad for it and Bill is there to explain it all.
We go from room to room in a Victorian parsonage in the English countryside and wind up learning about the entire world. Even the introduction where I side with Bill on his guestimate of how many people are buried in the Church graveyard, only to find out that the Church is literally buried in the sheer numbers of people who have lived and died in this little “un-interesting” area of England, instantly captivated me.
The book is sub-titled “A short history…” thought that must be only by Bill’s standards. I’m sure he could have written a multi-volume work, for me it was just long enough at 512 pages.