The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America

by Bill Bryson | Journals |
ISBN: 0552998087 Global Overview for this book
Registered by carriehhh of Oxford, Oxfordshire United Kingdom on 7/3/2006
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
18 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by carriehhh from Oxford, Oxfordshire United Kingdom on Monday, July 03, 2006
Bill Bryson is an amazing writer and this tour through small town America is great!


Journal Entry 3 by shimi from Nordre Aker bydel, Oslo fylke Norway on Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Carriehhh sent me this book as a RABCK, and it arrived safely yesterday. Thank you so much! :) Looking forward to reading this one.

Journal Entry 4 by shimi from Nordre Aker bydel, Oslo fylke Norway on Monday, November 27, 2006
I already finished this book a while ago, and I truly enjoyed Bill Bryson's amusing writing, including some recognizable moments from when I've travelled in the USA as well.

Book will now be sent to someone else as a surprise RABCK for Christmas, hopefully to be enjoyed again!

Released 12 yrs ago (12/3/2006 UTC) at -- Et ukjent sted i Oslo in -- wild release somewhere in Oslo, Oslo fylke Norway



Sending by mail to a friend who recently joined BC as a part of my Christmas calendar release challenge 2006.

Journal Entry 6 by Bjorg from Reykjavík, Reykjavík (Höfuðborgar svæðið) Iceland on Sunday, December 10, 2006
I just got this book sent from a friend in Norway.

Journal Entry 7 by Bjorg from Reykjavík, Reykjavík (Höfuðborgar svæðið) Iceland on Saturday, March 10, 2007
Ehm,what can I say? this book is really not my cup of tea. Some of my friends have read it and they found it very funny...perhaps I just did not get it?????
Anyways, now I´m sending it to a friend in the UK as a RABCK, hope she will like it:)

Journal Entry 8 by Apechild from York, North Yorkshire United Kingdom on Friday, March 16, 2007
Surprise book in the post =) I've never read anything by this guy, so it will be something new to try. Thank you Bjorg for thinking of me =)

Journal Entry 9 by Apechild from York, North Yorkshire United Kingdom on Thursday, May 24, 2007
This book was published in 1989 – I mean, it’s almost 20 years old now! It made me wonder if a lot of what he wrote about is still the same, because, to be honest, this wasn’t exactly the most positive book I’ve ever read. It was interesting, and I would like to try more books by Bryson, but I wouldn’t put him down as my favourite travel writer. In fact, unlike most books about travel or set in a foreign country, this one didn’t make me want to go to the States at all (another book that comes to mind that had the same effect on me was The Bookseller of Kabul, although for entirely different reasons).

There’s a lot about all the different places he ate along the way, the price of hotel rooms and their rubbish television connections – which did get a bit repetitive. And he did seem quite down on the States. Made the deep south sound positively terrifying. And one comment he made about a man earning a really low wage – that he must be a cretin (or he made have used the word moron) to be only earning that much. That was such an arrogant, condescending thing to say.

Some of the chapters were quite interesting for different reasons. The level of poverty in some places was scary (particularly considering the USA does present itself as the greatest country in the world) and the contrast of this, such as that town I forget the name of that he drove through, followed straight on by the uni town (was it called Auburn) where the filthy rich lived and there was worryingly not one good bookshop. So I can appreciate why he’s complaining to a point, because that would depress me, as would that it’s not a country designed for walking, not even down the street – it’s all just parking lot after parking lot in some of the towns.

One other curiosity was when he was in Tennessee in the mountains looking for this group of isolated people called the Melungeons who were treated like outcasts by the locals, and whom he never saw. But he met some of the locals, and they were so non-communicative and suspicious of strangers that it sounded scary. Plus he mentioned that one journalist had been shot there for asking too many questions. Not that you could ever ask people like that, but I’m curious as to how they view the rest of the States and the wider world, or if they ever think of it at all.

I guess your childhood memories don’t always live up to your expectations, as he finds out on his travels. And if you live abroad too long, you end up feeling like you don’t belong anywhere.

I’d like to know what people from the States think about this book and whether they think much has changed since it was written.

Journal Entry 10 by Apechild from York, North Yorkshire United Kingdom on Thursday, May 24, 2007
Bookray set up for this book:

Cross-patch - UK
*Bookcloud – UK (Asked to be skipped)*
lilifin - UK (until September, then Germany)
silvia-pco - Portugal (prefer EU)
EM64 - Finland (anywhere ok)
Marja-Leena - Finland (prefer EU)
hawk19840 - Germany (?)-- not answering PMS. Skipped.
Moonwoolf - Portugal (anywhere ok) --- not answering. Skipped.
Raineerose – USA (ships only USA)(asked to be skipped)
NMReader - USA (only USA)
Mysticalzoe - USA (only USA)
Doveilibri - USA (USA/Canada)
MaryZee - USA (USA/Canada) - recieved book via RABCK, please skip (05/10)
Acountkel - USA (USA/Canada)
Jerrilynnl - USA (anywhere)
Perryfran - USA (anywhere)
Elizardbreath - USA (anywhere)
Valerief - USA (anywhere)
Kobie03 - Canada (anywhere) - asked to be skipped.
Scrutiny - Hong Kong (anywhere)
Shelley-Sparkles - Australia (Australia only)

Journal Entry 11 by wingCross-patchwing from Leicester, Leicestershire United Kingdom on Wednesday, May 30, 2007
It's here, thank you. I'll report back soon.

Journal Entry 12 by wingCross-patchwing from Leicester, Leicestershire United Kingdom on Friday, June 29, 2007
OpheliaPhillips has summed it up for me too. The only difference is that I would still like to check Small town America out. The one other Bill Bryson I have read left the same aura of pessimism behind, so maybe it is not the places and people but the reporter. All the same, he gives a view on the world, and that stimulates thought - a good quality! A big thank you for sharing this book, because I know I wouldn't have gone out and bought it, but I appreciated reading it. Also,I had a problem with there being no map - I had to read along with a Rough Guide to the USA!
Bookcloud asked to be skipped; I have lilifin's address and shall post it on Monday after the postal strike is over.

Journal Entry 13 by lilifin from Köln, Nordrhein-Westfalen Germany on Tuesday, July 03, 2007
...arrived safely...and will be read as soon as possible...

Journal Entry 14 by lilifin from Köln, Nordrhein-Westfalen Germany on Tuesday, December 18, 2007
As always, I very much enjoyed reading this book by Bryson. Although he often paints a very pessimistic picture of the places travelled, he's also able to celebrate nice people and places. Sorry for keeping the book so long, it will move on now.

Released 11 yrs ago (12/18/2007 UTC) at Controlled Release in Postal Release, Mailed to another bookcrosser -- Controlled Releases



On its way to silvia-pco

Journal Entry 16 by silvia-pco from Murtosa, Aveiro Portugal on Saturday, December 22, 2007
It's here!

Journal Entry 17 by Apechild from York, North Yorkshire United Kingdom on Friday, November 07, 2008
Just a reminder for silvia-pco - you will soon have had this book for a year and there is a long list of people waiting to read this book after you. So if you could put it to the top of your reading pile and get it finished before 2008 is over, that would be great!

Thanks =)

Update 06 January 2009 - I am giving up on this one as stalled in Portugal now.

Update Feb 2010 - and the book ray is well on its way again =) Thank you silvia-pco for getting this one moving again =)

Journal Entry 18 by silvia-pco from Murtosa, Aveiro Portugal on Monday, November 30, 2009
First of all, I'd like to apologize to everyone who signed up for this Ray, and specially to OpheliaPhillips. This book is not lost, it's safe and sound with me...
I'm really sorry I stalled it for so long. I disappeared from BC for some time and some books have been here for way to much time.
I'm reading it now - started yesterday - and loving it. I'm at my regular reading pace now so hopefully I'll "be done with it" (a terrible expression, but I can't think of another one right now) and ready to send it along before Friday.

Again, sorry for all this mess. I'll be in touch! :)

Journal Entry 19 by silvia-pco from Murtosa, Aveiro Portugal on Saturday, December 05, 2009
This was the first Bill Bryson's book I read, and I must say I loved the way he writes. I've never been to the States, though I very much want too, most of all because I have some family there; this book made me even more curious about this country. Despite the not-so-flattering descriptions Bryson does of many states, it still sounds like he had a great time.

I agree with OpheliaPhillips in some points: sometimes he got a bit repetitive, specially when talking about the little towns with the restaurants that served terrible food and motel with outrageous prices.

Nevertheless, this was a read I enjoyed very much. Thanks for sharing!

I already have EM64's address. This one will be on its way to Finland during the next week!

Journal Entry 20 by silvia-pco from Murtosa, Aveiro Portugal on Monday, December 07, 2009
Sent today to em64. Enjoy!

Journal Entry 21 by wingem64wing from Tampere, Pirkanmaa / Birkaland Finland on Thursday, December 10, 2009
The book arrived today, I should be able to start reading it over the weekend. Looks like an interesting reading like Bryson's books usually are.

Journal Entry 22 by wingem64wing from Tampere, Pirkanmaa / Birkaland Finland on Tuesday, December 22, 2009
I have read quite a few of Bryson's books and he has a unique style of writing. And I happen to like it. Bryson loves to moan and complain and most of all he loves to exaggerate. On the other hand he has some kind of weird affection to those places and things he complains about. He also gives praise to those things he finds great. I enjoyed reading this one a lot so thank you for sharing.

The book continued today its's journey and it is now on the way to northern Finland and marja-leena who will probably receive only after Christmas.

Journal Entry 23 by marja-leena from Oulu, Pohjois-Pohjanmaa / Norra Österbotten Finland on Monday, December 28, 2009
The book arrived today to Northern Finland. I had totally forgotten about this book ring. So glad to get to read this because I love Bill Bryson's books.

Journal Entry 24 by marja-leena from Oulu, Pohjois-Pohjanmaa / Norra Österbotten Finland on Tuesday, February 02, 2010
It took me a while to realize that the book was written already twenty years ago. I was kinda pondering why he is using lousy maps and not satellite navigator, why did he not use his cell phone instead of just rushing to meet people. He was complaining about a leaf blower as an insane novelty. Today we are sort of used to them, arent we. Plenty of his complaining is that things are not the same as they used to be when he was a kid. That is what many expatriates do.He gives quite a strange picture of his parents. Surely there is a lot humour in it. I loved the book for its sense of humour and rich language. But when he suggests that people in a certain place should take more often dope, goes that beyond my understanding.He keeps complaining but after all likes many places and even makes me interested of them.

I am trying to contact hawk19840 in order to ship the book further. Thanks for sharing this book as a ring!

Journal Entry 25 by marja-leena from Oulu, Pohjois-Pohjanmaa / Norra Österbotten Finland on Friday, February 26, 2010
I still have the book because I have not been lucky in contacting people in this ray. I also have been sick. I keep on trying and will mail it forward as soon as possible.

Journal Entry 26 by marja-leena from Oulu, Pohjois-Pohjanmaa / Norra Österbotten Finland on Monday, March 01, 2010
I have now sent the book to NMReader to the United States!

Journal Entry 27 by NMReader from Herndon, Virginia USA on Monday, March 08, 2010
Arrived on Sat. Adding to mount TBR. Looking forward to reading

Journal Entry 28 by NMReader from Herndon, Virginia USA on Tuesday, March 30, 2010
I thought a quick update might be nice

I have not started the book yet. I am leaving on a business trip this afternoon and plan to take the book with me. I hope to finish B Is for Burglar on the way out and read this book on the way home.

Journal Entry 29 by NMReader from Herndon, Virginia USA on Friday, April 02, 2010
Mild rant...

I am not even sure how to start.

I guess I'll start with I have read a few other Bryson books. I always found his attitude towards the United States a tad patronizing (or something) but it didn't interfere with me enjoying his books. I especially enjoyed his I'm a Stranger Here Myself and A Walk in the Woods.

I've read 34 pages so far. I have never lived in Iowa but I have traveled through the state often (from ~1976 thru 1985 approximately four times a year. My most recent trip was in January 2010). I am offended on behalf of Iowans in general and Iowan women in particular.

I'll grant that Iowa is not the most cosmopolitan place in the United States but it is a beautiful land with honest, hard working, kind, intelligent people. I suppose that most of them are a little naïve - after all they can't imagine being dishonest themselves and so expect others to have integrity also.

As for the women in Iowa not all being as skinny as fashion models, maybe it is because they are working a little too hard at helping their kids with school work, 4-H projects, being troop mothers for Girl or Boy Scouts, being on church and civic committees, and helping their husbands (and often neighbors) on the farm. It's just not convenient to drive 30 miles to town (one way) to get a workout in at the gym everyday for these ladies. Oh and btw from looking in the front cover, Mr Bryson could stand to hit the gym more often - he certainly isn't an Adonis.

I am sorry about the rant but the start of this book has definitely rubbed me the wrong way. I notice there are a lot of people who have previously read this book from other countries. If the book continues in this vein, I will try to balance his writings with my own experiences traveling here in the USA.

April 3: Well I sat down to read and I don't think I made it 2 pages before he was back slamming the US. I am going to see when he wrote this compared with some of his other books. I'm not surprise that some people aren't sure if they want to come here after reading this book.

April 5: This book is one of his first books. He seems particularly unhappy with his father and the US in it. I am about 1/3 of the way through the book. He has just gotten to Bryson City NC. He likes this town for its name and the hotel. The audience for this book was definitely not people from the US. He has spent a lot of time describing fast food, shopping centers, older hotels, etc. He has talked a little about history, civil rights, and attitudes between the races.

April 7: I am 2/3 of the way through the book. He has started to lose some of his attitude towards the US. He admitted to feeling guilty for what he said about Iowans. He has finished his eastern trip and is ready to head west.

April 9: Twenty pages to go. I should finsih this afternoon. I will write more when I complete. I hope to mail over the weekend.

Journal Entry 30 by NMReader from Herndon, Virginia USA on Monday, April 12, 2010
I finished this book on Friday afternoon on a plane ride home from Nashville.

Mr. Bryson and I view much in the US differently. He starts out talking very negatively about his home state and then decides there is no place like home. I have always thought his home state is quinessentially USA.

He says some pretty nasty things about Sundance WY. I've been there often. The people have been very kind, helpful and friendly. Perhaps in Mr. Bryson's case they sensed his attitude and decided not to go out of their way for a pompous ass. People in Sundance deal with thousands of tourist a year and I am sure they have gotten use to dealing with people who think they are superior.

I'll be the first to admit the US isn't perfect but most of the people are friendly and given half a chance helpful. I also think the changes in race relations should be praised as they have come along way even in my life time.

The US is a beautiful country. We have one of the most extensive National Park, Monumnets, Historic, Grasslands, and Forest Systems in the world. These places are open to all who can get there and afford a small entrance fee (most places less than the cost of a couple movie tickets and drinks). I've driven almost all the way north to south (NM to SD) and 2/3 to 3/4 of the way east to west (WY or SD to MD or VA). Yes there are lots of fast food restaurants. Yes there are lots of cheap motels but what beauty and what kind people await outside the car for you.

Maybe I shouldn't be mad at Mr. Bryson for his attitude - afterall if his writing discourages people from coming and seeing, it just means that my trip will include fewer other motorist and sightseers.

Journal Entry 31 by NMReader at Herndon, Virginia USA on Monday, April 12, 2010

Released 9 yrs ago (4/12/2010 UTC) at Herndon, Virginia USA



I'll drop at the PO this evening.

Delivery Confirmation #: 0309 3220 0001 8476 6083

Journal Entry 32 by mysticalzoe from Gardiner, Maine USA on Saturday, April 17, 2010
I totally forgot I even signed up for this book, so this was a surprise. I have one book ahead of this then I will read this one next. Thanks for sending.


I started this book today and so far I have been sitting here laughing my butt off with tears rolling down my face. I don't think I have laughed this hard in a long time, my dog was looking at me in an odd way hehehe. So far so good, and basically sums up the places I have visited too. I'm on page 47 and will continue to read until I make dinner. Thanks for sharing and for the good laughs so far!


Okay I had this book longer then I expected to but I finished this book, this morning. Wow! I really enjoyed this book, and felt like I traveled with him through the Untied States. Yes a lot of it was outdated but then again this was 1989 book. I think he is funny, and I agree with a lot of what he said about the states, I am not anti-american as I don't think he is either, but I feel he did a very good job with this book.

I have the next person's address and will be sending it off tomorrow, I promise!! Thanks for sharing and letting me read!

Journal Entry 33 by mysticalzoe at Gardiner, Maine USA on Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Released 9 yrs ago (5/4/2010 UTC) at Gardiner, Maine USA



Finally sending this book to the next person in Florida, enjoy!

Journal Entry 34 by wingDove-i-Libriwing from Cape Coral, Florida USA on Saturday, May 08, 2010
Well, hello book! I forgot that I had joined this ray, LOL! But since I've been on the ray since before January 1, 2010, it will count towards my "Reduce Mount TBR" challenge for the year. Hooray! I've started a different book already, but as soon as I'm done with that, I'll start on this one right away! Will make another journal entry at that time! MaryZee asked to be skipped, so I'll contact Acountkel when I'm done!

May 19, 2010: Started reading this book last night. Should be traveling again soon!

May 24, 2010: Finished! Though I enjoyed the dry wit and irony, it wore thin at the end. The book was about 100 pages too long. The whole second part (called WEST) could have been a separate book ... Sent to Acountkel for her address.

Journal Entry 35 by wingDove-i-Libriwing at Fort Myers, Florida USA on Thursday, June 03, 2010
Hello OpheliaPhillips,

I have sent Acountkel 2 PM messages, but have not rec'd their address. HOWEVER, before I give up and attempt to contact the next person, can you please try to send Acountkel a PM yourself? They seem to be an active member at this time ... I'm not sure if my messages are working since the changeover at the BookCrossing site. Please send any response to my PM at BookCrossing *AND* e-mail address at ... Since I was unsure whether the PMs are working, I am trying by posting a journal entry. Now I just hope you've been receiving Alerts!

Also, if any other member can help me, it would be very much appreciated! Thanks in advance!

Journal Entry 36 by Apechild at York, North Yorkshire United Kingdom on Thursday, June 03, 2010
I have just sent a PM and hopefully we will get a reply. If not, we will skip for the time being and acountkel can always join in later on if needs be.

Journal Entry 37 by wingDove-i-Libriwing at Fort Myers, Florida USA on Friday, June 04, 2010
Rec'd Acountkel's address and will send the book off from work!!!! Sent Friday, June 4, 2010 via media mail.

Journal Entry 38 by acountkel at Charlotte, North Carolina USA on Saturday, June 26, 2010
This was an account of Bryson’s trip around the US in a car. His focus was on small towns. He traveled from Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennesee, to Mississippi, Georgia, South Carolina, the Mid Atlantic states, New England, Ohio, Michigan back to Iowa for a rest. Then he heads out west. He hits Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Wyoming, Utah, Dakotas, Montana and then back home to Iowa. He missed only 10 of the 52 states. There were some things I like about this book. The humor..the humor…uh, the humor. That’s about it. I grew tired of his complaints about everything from how expensive everything was, how bad the food was, how terrible the service was, how dirty the motel rooms were and how bad of a job the government does managing our National Parks. This isn’t the first time he has mentioned this. He also complains about our national parks in A Walk in the Woods. I ask you Bill, what does the government manage well? I felt like I was reading a diatribe of a cranky old man who didn’t want to do his job. He was searching for Amalgam and he found it a few times but for the most part, he was miserable. So the question is, why did he do it? He left his wife and kids in England and spent weeks on the road driving from small town to small town with rarely a kind word to say about anything. I’m surprised he was the same person who wrote A Walk In the Woods. These books are so different.

I have the next person's address and I will send it out Monday.
Thank you so much for including me in the ring!!

Journal Entry 39 by JerrilynnL at Denver, Colorado USA on Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Arrived safely in Colorado -- will read and send on shortly. Thanks for sharing!

Journal Entry 40 by JerrilynnL at Denver, Colorado USA on Monday, August 02, 2010
Not as funny as other books that Bryson has written but an interesting look at tourists spots in America.

Off to Perryfran in UT today

Journal Entry 41 by wingperryfranwing at North Ogden, Utah USA on Friday, August 06, 2010
This was waiting for me when I returned from vacation. I'll try to get to it soon. Thanks

Journal Entry 42 by wingperryfranwing at North Ogden, Utah USA on Friday, August 20, 2010
Finished reading this one today and have to say I really loved it! Yes, Bryson can be condescending and arrogant, but overall I thought his narrative about his trip through America was pretty much dead-on and most of all hilarious. I was laughing out loud in some places such as where he describes shopping at K-mart and the people that shop there. I recently moved across country and I can definitely identify with a lot of Bryson's observations - such as how America seems to be turning charming small towns into strip malls and fast food restaurants. I can sadly say that about my home town in Utah that I recently moved back to after being in San Francisco and the Washington, DC area for the past 25 years. Of course, costs have gone up since Bryson made his trip in 1989! He was complaining about the cost of a hotel, food, etc., which all seemed quite cheap by today's standards. This is about the 4th Bryson book I have read and I'm definitely looking forward to reading more of his travel adventures!

Elizardbreath asked to be skipped so I will be sending this on to Valerief very soon. Thanks again for including me in this ray.

Journal Entry 43 by wingperryfranwing at Forest Hills, New York USA on Friday, August 20, 2010

Released 8 yrs ago (8/20/2010 UTC) at Forest Hills, New York USA


Sending on to Valerief to continue this bookray. Enjoy!

USPS DC# 0309 1830 0002 3792 3408

Per - delivered August 26, 2010:

Journal Entry 44 by valerief at Forest Hills, New York USA on Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Thanks Perryfran! Reading this now, great timing.

Journal Entry 45 by valerief at Forest Hills, New York USA on Friday, September 10, 2010
Having read several of Bryson's other books, I think I am growing weary of his whiny, repetitive humor. At times I did chuckle out loud, but I agree with other readers that it seemed like he was disparaging the same things over and over. It was surprising that an American would have such a bad attitude towards his home country, but it did seem that the places he visited grew on him over time. I wonder how this book would take shape over 20 years later. Surely there would be some recurrences, like strip malls, but the US has changed a lot, and in many ways. For all the gripes against US government administration, I'd put money on the existence of inefficiences of other bureaucratic institutions worldwide, the UK included.

I have PM'd kobie03 for a mailing address.

Journal Entry 46 by Apechild at York, North Yorkshire United Kingdom on Friday, September 17, 2010
Ive just had a PM from Kobie03 asking to be skipped.

Journal Entry 47 by valerief at Forest Hills, New York USA on Monday, September 20, 2010
Yes I received the same PM from kobie03. Scrutiny has sent me her address.

Journal Entry 48 by valerief at Forest Hills, New York USA on Monday, September 20, 2010

Released 8 yrs ago (9/22/2010 UTC) at Forest Hills, New York USA


Sending to Scrutiny. Enjoy!

Journal Entry 49 by scrutiny at Shatin, Sha Tin Hong Kong on Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Re-entry into the atmosphere complete. Safe landing in my mailbox today! Thank you valerief!

Journal Entry 50 by scrutiny at Shatin, Sha Tin Hong Kong on Wednesday, December 22, 2010
This is one of my first Bill Bryson books and although I enjoyed it, I have to say I thought it was pretty one-note. I loved that he chose to travel off the beaten path, but after a while his narration was predictable - he either loved it, hated it, or thought it was okay. It was interesting to read though, and occasionally enlightening. But most of all, I felt like I was in the car with him because of the way he drones on until we get to a relatively interesting place and I perk up. Then I get back into the car with him and he drones on like the engine again. I guess he succeeded overall because I feel as conflicted about his style of writing as he did about the places he visited. The most disappointing thing was that he didn't offer some sort of conclusion, or wider insight into why things had changed and where he thought the soul of America is now, if it is not in the small towns. I just expected something more intelligent to wrap it up.

But hey - I did like the book. I did read through it quickly because I wanted to see where he went next, not because I wanted to get it over and done with. I read with a happy familiarity when he visited the places I have lived in or visited. Not sure I'll read all his other books after this one though.

Off to Shelly-Sparkles once I get a reply!

Journal Entry 51 by Shelly-Sparkles at Woodridge, Queensland Australia on Thursday, January 13, 2011
Received in the mail today. Loved the last Bill Byrson book I read so am looking forward to this read, thanks for posting to moi.

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