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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

I’m a Stranger Here Myself

I read my first Bill Bryson book about 16 months ago before I took my vacation to Australia and New Zealand. In a Sunburned Country seemed like the perfect book to read before heading downunder, and it came highly recommended to me by several friends.
Since then I have not had an opportunity to pick up another one of Bryson’s books, which I regret, until I was given I’m a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After Twenty Years Away by my father for Christmas.
When I first picked the book up I expected it to be much like the one I read, but it was totally different, yet never lacked in enjoyment. I’m a Stranger Here Myself is an excellent book comprised of articles he wrote for a supplement magazine for a Sunday newspaper about his observations of life in America after living in England for twenty years.
It’s downright hilarious and perfect for bedtime reading. And no, that’s not because it’ll put you to sleep. It’s a very engaging book with short, four page, chapters that make it easy to buzz through a couple before bed.
I also liked how each chapter was it’s own individual story, making it unnecessary to follow some grand story where you have to keep track of all of the characters, so you never have to worry about where you left off in the book and the plot.
Too often I read books like that, like a War and Peace or a Harry Potter where it’s incredibly long and everything is so connected that you really have to pay attention to things. I really enjoy such books, but I enjoyed this one just as much for all of the opposite reasons.
I loved that I could pick up I’m a Stranger Here Myself on my lunch break and read a couple of chapters and not have to worry about where I left off the week before.
I loved how I could read it before bed and not have to count ahead in the book to see how many pages the next chapter was and wonder to myself if I could get through it before I needed to turn off the lights.
I loved Bryson’s humor and observations and continually found myself laughing through his book, especially in the chapter “Your Tax Form Explained.”
This is, for me, the highlight of the book because it simply encompasses why I pay someone else to do my taxes for me each year. A quick excerpt from this chapter may give you a good idea:

Under “Personal Expenditures,” itemize all cash expeditures of more than $1, and include verification. If you have had dental work and you are not claiming a refund on the federal oil spill allowance, enter your shoe sizes since birth and enclose specimen shoes (right foot only). Multiply by 1.5 or 1,319, whichever is larger, and divide line 3f by 3d. Under Section 912g, enteral federal income support grants for the production of alfalfa, barley (but not sorghum, unless for home consumption), and okra WHETHER OR NOT you received any. Failure to do so may result in a fine of $3,750,000 and death by lethal injection. (page 173)

I could not stop laughing throughout this chapter, and had to put the book down several times to wipe tears from my eyes. It was just that funny.

The rest of the book is just as humorous. I believe it’s a must buy. So, if you don’t have it already, since it’s been out already for quite sometime, put it on your list for the next time you go to the store. And heck, if you haven’t already bought In a Sunburned Country, you may as well put that down too and get it while you’re at the store.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go add the rest of Bryson’s books to my shopping list and head out to the store.

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