Books That Made a Difference to Mary Roach
By Bill Bryson
I didn't know I could love a book more than I loved The Lost Continent, Bryson's sharp-eyed, sharp-tongued American travelogue. I was wary when this one came out: a Bryson childhood memoir? Not to worry. He's got a jones for research. And as much as it's a book about Bryson and his family, it's a book about America in the 1950s, the golden age of the nuclear family (and the nuclear bomb), comic books, Disneyland, and Dick and Jane. I actually rationed out the pages, allowing myself just a chapter or two at a time, so the pleasure would last. It wasn't difficult because, at least twice in every paragraph, I'd have to take a moment to marvel at the writing. No phrasing is ever stale or flat. Every sentence earns its keep: It amuses or it informs, and often it does both at once.