31 Days of Great Nonfiction: In a Sunburned Country

In a Sunburned CountryIn a Sunburned CountryIn a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson by Bill Bryson

Last year I featured Bryson’s Appalachian Trail travelogue A Walk in the Woods, and mentioned his Australia travel book. This year it gets its own featured spot in the series.

It’s been 10 years since I read this book, and I still remember large chunks of it clearly. The disappearing politician. The snakes and other hazardous wildlife. The hazardous marine life. The longest stretch of straight train tracks in the world. Did I mention the hazardous wildlife?

Bryson has such an appealing writing style – bringing you along as he treks across Australia, sharing interesting tidbits of information about the history, geography, geology, and, yes, hazardous wildlife. His book is the closest I’ve ever come to traveling there, but his stories make the country enormously appealing for a visit. Just not appealing to go communing with nature. 🙂

Publisher’s Description:
Every time Bill Bryson walks out the door, memorable travel literature threatens to break out. His previous excursion along the Appalachian Trail resulted in the sublime national bestseller A Walk in the Woods. In A Sunburned Country is his report on what he found in an entirely different place: Australia, the country that doubles as a continent, and a place with the friendliest inhabitants, the hottest, driest weather, and the most peculiar and lethal wildlife to be found on the planet. The result is a deliciously funny, fact-filled, and adventurous performance by a writer who combines humor, wonder, and unflagging curiousity.

Despite the fact that Australia harbors more things that can kill you in extremely nasty ways than anywhere else, including sharks, crocodiles, snakes, even riptides and deserts, Bill Bryson adores the place, and he takes his readers on a rollicking ride far beyond that beaten tourist path. Wherever he goes he finds Australians who are cheerful, extroverted, and unfailingly obliging, and these beaming products of land with clean, safe cities, cold beer, and constant sunshine fill the pages of this wonderful book. Australia is an immense and fortunate land, and it has found in Bill Bryson its perfect guide.

31 Days of Great NonfictionIf you haven’t read it, of course I recommend A Walk in the Woods. Bryson has written other books, but I’ve never read any of the others (something I really do need to rectify soon.) For a similar feel in travel books, I’d recommend Polly Evans. She’s got a similar humorous style in her writing – check out It’s Not About the Tapas to start and see if she appeals to you.

To see all the books featured in 31 Days of Great Nonfiction, go to the series page.

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  1. I love Bill Bryson and have read most of his books, including In a Sunburned Country. I’m reading At Home right now and have 1927 waiting for me. He is witty and funny, and yet you learn so many interesting things from him. I highly recommend all his books!

  2. I have been meaning to read something by Bill Bryson. This sounds a perfect place to start, because as much as I want to visit Australia, everything there really will kill you. Okay, I exaggerate, a little bit.

    • Not by that much, at least compared to where I live now. I can walk outside and not feel like everything I’ll encounter is potentially fatal.

      It was a really fun book, so hopefully it balances out some of the other ones I’ve featured this month. 🙂

  3. I read this while my sister was doing study abroad in Australia during college, and I really enjoyed it! It made her stories of kangaroos roaming the dorm courtyard seem slightly more plausible. =)

    • I bet that was really fun reading it while your sister was over there! And I completely can believe her kangaroo stories, at least depending on where in Australia she was studying.

  4. I, too, love Bill Bryson and loved his “Walk in the Woods.” So funny. My first introduction to him was “I’m a Stranger Here Myself,” about moving back to the US from England. I guess because I’ve lived in England, it was especially enjoyable for me. I highly recommend it. I’ll have to put this one about Australia on my radar. At the moment, I am drowning in hold books from the library – you know, the ones everyone else wants, so you have to get them when your time comes and give them up when your time is up. Drats!

    • I wasn’t crazy about I’m a Stranger Here Myself and didn’t finish it. It might have just been the wrong book at the wrong time though, so I’ve held onto it as a “try this again someday” book. I like the two books I’ve finished so much that I want to give it another try.

    • Oh, and I completely understand the drowning in holds situation. I try and juggle things so I don’t have super popular books all coming in at the same time, because then they’ll all be due at the same time and can’t be renewed. Sometimes I manage it, and other times … not so much. 😉


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