Was at the airport bookshop with my sister, looking for something to bring along to our Sri Lanka + Maldives trip. I recommended this to her (feeling slightly guilty because I myself hadn't finished reading the science/history version of this), but she flipped through it and pronounced it boring, so I ended up buying it for myself.
Started reading in Colombo during the 3 hour wait for the other member of our traveling party. Pleased to find it was, as advertised, a page turner, except for the parts about architecture (yawn). Otherwise, I was constantly reading out snippets to the great annoyance of my sister ("Oooh, cool. Did you know that...?") until she told me she was reading her own book thank you very much, and that she was politely going to ignore me whenever I did that. Well! Consider yourself deprived of all the fascinating info you *could* have learned.
Bryson had my attention at Roman phallic knickknack, and was able to sustain it throughout the book, such that while my companions were out snorkeling in the clear turquoise waters of the paradise that is Fihalhohi Island, I stretched out on a beach chair and immersed myself in this book instead (okay so I took a quick swim later on). Dipped into the book now and then for the rest of the trip, and finished reading on the plane back home. I now know more about London's sewers than I would ever need to know. (Coincidentally, I bought this along with Terry Pratchett's Dodger
", so when Bazalgette made a cameo I was all "!!")
Bryson presents the plans of the old rectory he now lives in, then goes through the rooms one by one as a neat way to structure the narrative (like "House of Memory"). Even so, I kept on forgetting who Reverend (I have to look it up) Marsham was, and had to take a few seconds to remember who he was whenever Bryson started referring to him again. Still, good way of organizing what could have otherwise been a messy variety of topics.
Now off to tackle A Short History of Nearly Everything