I believe that the best books are those that one can relate to. So depending on what you like and what your views and experiences are you will either like an author’s style or not. There’s probably more to what makes a good book but I still think this basic principle holds true in most cases.
Bill Bryson seems to be one of those who has the rare gift of being able to relate to many of us. He’s funny, direct, knowledgeable, well traveled and still manages to maintain a certain “next door neighbour” flair that makes you not only like his books but also makes you want to have a beer with him while listening to his stories. “Down Under” is written in a straight forward way, almost like fast food for bookworms – and I found this Big Mac delicious.
Bill Bryson has probably seen more places around the world than most of us. Yet, even a well travelled person such as Bryson finds himself captured by the vast country that Australia is. Its people, its culture, its unique landscapes and the massive, endless open space – all those aspects are pretty much unique to Australia and make it such a wonderful place. It’s hard not to like Australia, even if you try. You follow Bryson’s footsteps while he travels from one end of Australia to the other and it feels as if you sit next to him in the car or on the train. The funny thing is that Bryson looks exactly how you would picture him, a middle aged, slightly overweight, bearded, grey haired man who loves a beer (or two) and who gets sunburned (as most English people do when they come to Australia). He manages to add historical information about Australia to his travel report without ever being boring or sounding like a science text book – that alone is a gift that only a few have. On almost every page you find a passage where you can’t help yourself but smile or even laugh out loud. His hopeless attempt trying to understand the complex rules of Cricket or the fact that there is a town in Australia called Tittybong are just two examples of what you should prepare yourself for.
Personally, I have not read a funnier book (better ones… well, that’s hard to say), and if you find yourself wanting to go on the exact same trip that Bryson has been on, that alone is evidence enough for a well written story. As a matter of fact I would not know anyone who wouldn’t enjoy this book. (Guest Review written by Ole Brandenburg).