In preparing this piece, I was struck by the sheer heaviness of the list. I shouldn't have been surprised: I picked much of it myself. But how did I miss it? And make no mistake, this list is heavy. Anyway. Rather than examining my headspace at that particular moment, I'll start with one of the lighter books--which I didn't pick--before moving into the shadows.
Some 20 years ago, Bill Bryson published Notes from a Small Island, a hilarious and loving farewell of sorts to Great Britain, where he had happily lived as an expatriate writer before the siren song of the colonies beckoned him home. His follow-up, The Road to Little Dribbling, finds him back on the isle of Albion, a little bit older but as funny as ever. In his review for Amazon, our Chris Schluep says:
Those who read the first book will enjoy a welcome sense of the familiar"”even if Bryson appears to have grown a little more cynical and angry with age. But give the guy a break: the world is changing, even his beloved "cozy and embraceable" island. And as he writes in the book, "I recently realized with dismay that I am even too old for early onset dementia. Any dementia I get will be right on time."
See more of our selections for the Best Biographies & Memoirs of the Month below (as noted above, there's some heavy stuff--the full list is here), or browse all of our picks for January. including your favorite happy categories.