This is a five star classic of humorous travelogue and it deserves all the praise heaped on it, Bill Bryson's reputation and success is build on it.
I have been cautiously flirting with Bill Bryson's books for some time now and they never ceased to amaze me, make me laugh, snort, growl and in general produce all sorts of animal noises. This time I actually had to take a break, wipe away my tears of laughter, catch my breath and than I could return to the book. Honestly, I think guy is hilarious - apparently there is no subject in the world he won't touch and best of all is his self-mocking humor where you can clearly see this is someone who doesn't take himself too seriously.
"Small Island" from the title is of course UK and Bryson takes adventurous trip with train/bus trough all the places on his map - not just big, world-famous places like London, but trough many of completely obscure industrial towns that used to prosper decades ago but now are slipping silently into rust. Bryson makes a point of obsessively trying to find something unique or positive about them, often coming to conclusion that many of these places look very much alike, thanks to big shop chains that grace UK and besides another shopping centers it seems that cities have lost their originality and what made them unique in the first place. Its extremely funny - I started with a polite smile and ended with a roar - but I understand that people who understand and love this might be either British or in some way connected with UK, otherwise the jokes and innuendos might be lost on other readers. I used to live in London so naturally this definitely hit home immediately as I could recognize and understand what was he talking about. Just wonderful.