I'm A Stranger Here Myself

I'm A Stranger Here Myself

Notes on Returning to America After Twenty Years Away

Book - 1999
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Random House, Inc.
The master humorist and bestselling author of A Walk in the Woods now guides us on an affectionate, hysterically funny tour of America's most outrageous absurdities.

After living in Britain for two decades, Bill Bryson recently moved back to the United States with his English wife and four children (he had read somewhere that nearly three million Americans believed they had been abducted by aliens--as he later put it, "it was clear my people needed me"). They were greeted by a new-and-improved America that boasts microwave pancakes, twenty-four-hour dental-floss hotlines, and the staunch conviction that ice is not a luxury item.

Delivering the brilliant comic musings that are a Bryson hallmark, I'm a Stranger Here Myself recounts his sometimes disconcerting reunion with the land of his birth. From motels ("one of those things--airline food is another--that I get excited about and should know better") to careless barbers ("in the mirror I am confronted with an image that brings to mind a lemon meringue pie with ears"), I'm a Stranger Here Myself chronicles the quirkiest aspects of life in America, right down to our hardware-store lingo, tax-return instructions, and vulnerability to home injury ("statistically in New Hampshire I am far more likely to be hurt by my ceiling or underpants than by a stranger").

Along the way Bill Bryson also reveals his rules for life (#1: It is not permitted to be both slow and stupid. You must choose one or the other); delivers the commencement address to a local high school ("I've learned that if you touch a surface to see if it's hot, it will be"); and manages to make friends with a skunk. The result is a book filled with hysterical scenes of one man's attempt to reacquaint himself with his own country, but it is also an extended, if at times bemused, love letter to the homeland he has returned to after twenty years away.

Baker & Taylor
The author describes his return to America after two decades of living abroad and his disconcerting reunion with his homeland as he discusses motels, tax-return instructions, hardware stores, and other topics

& Taylor

The humorist-author of A Walk in the Woods describes his return to America after two decades of living abroad and his quirky, sometimes disconcerting reunion with his homeland as he discusses motels, tax-return instructions, barbers, hardware stores, and more. Tour.

Publisher: New York : Broadway Books, c1999.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780767903813
Branch Call Number: 917.3 BRY
Characteristics: xiii, 288 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

AL_LESLEY Jan 31, 2017

Bryson compiled a collection of newspaper columns into this hilarious and endearing book. Written in the mid 90s it's interesting to look back and see what has changed and even more so what hasn't changed at all.

Mar 14, 2016

This is a book that I've read ragged - by far and away my favorite Bryson book - and have to pause for laughing so hard each time. Wonderful observances of America (doubly so for me since I've visited England a few prolonged times) that will appeal to many, many readers. A light read and one that should definitely be checked out!

Feb 06, 2016

I found the book to be whiney and tedious. That may be because the book is whiney and tedious or maybe I have just lost my sense of humor.

Nov 17, 2015

Having been born in the States, then lived in England for 20 years and returned back home again Bryson gives us a series of very funny articles. These articles on American life were written for a newspaper are entertaining, often hilarious but now somewhat dated. Bryson is very often observant, and witty with a not so subtle sense of satire. The topics are varied as the vagaries of a computer, fast food, advertising, Christmas, litigation, trips to the seaside, the complexities of the tax system and more.
A sampling of his comments: on discussing dumb comments, he quotes Bob Dole who said " the campaign is about the future because that's where we're going." On basements he says there are "the third great feature of American life...because they are so amazingly, so spaciously, useless." For people who take two spaces in a parking lot, "I would welcome back capital punishment." Thanksgiving is the best holiday because "you don't have to give gift cards or send cards or do anything but eat until you look like a balloon." Of the 200 channels he gets on TV "you gradually realize the idea of TV here is simply to fill up the air with any old sludge". On all the conveniences in America " Americans have become so attached to the idea of convenience that they will put up with almost any inconvenience to achieve it". On Christmas, "why untangle the lights when you know they haven't a chance of working". On setting up his new computer: "If you have not yet acquired a degree in electrical engineering, now is the time to do it". Snowmobiling is " a rocket ship designed by Satan to run on snow."
Overall a very worthwhile easy to read funny book.

Jul 17, 2012

The perfect vacation book. Full of laugh-out-loud stories in bite-size pieces, so it's easy to read at whatever speed you wish to go.


Add Age Suitability

Jul 29, 2012

Red_Rabbit_102 thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over

Jul 17, 2012

Tatergirl100 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at OPL

To Top