Today's Recommended Read: "In a Sunburned Country" by Bill Bryson
Until I read "In a Sunburned Country," I didn't realize how entertaining travel literature could be. It's been nearly 18 years since former Daily Herald travel editor Kathy Rodeghier chose Bill Bryson's 2000 travelogue and abridged history of Australia for our book club and it remains among my favorites. An award-winning writer herself, Rodeghier knows good writing -- which Bryson delivers in his picaresque guide to Australia's citizens, culture and formidable grandeur.
"(Australia) doesn't have coups, recklessly overfish, arm disagreeable despots, grow coca in provocative quantities, or throw its weight around in a brash and unseemly manner," Bryson wrote. "It is stable and peaceful and good. It doesn't need watching, and so we don't. But I will tell you this: the loss is entirely ours."
Wry yet respectful, "In a Sunburned Country" amuses as it educates. Consider this passage, which makes me chuckle every time I read it.
Australia "has more things that will kill you than anywhere else," Bryson wrote. "Of the world's ten most poisonous snakes, all are Australian. Five of its creatures -- the funnel web spider, box jellyfish, blue-ringed octopus, paralysis tick, and stonefish -- are the most lethal of their type in the world. This is a country where even the fluffiest of caterpillars can lay you out with a toxic nip."