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Notes From a Small Island by Bill Bryson

Notes From a Small Island by Bill Bryson

I am re-reading a UK classic: Bill Bryson's Notes From a Small Island

This is pure comfort reading in a time of trouble. Also, as a fellow Iowan and an Anglophile, I have always been drawn to Mr Bryson’s work.

I can definitely recommend his latest book On the Body too – also, what a time to read it, while we are all focusing on our own health and that of others around the world.

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I cannot fault the longstanding podcast This American Life hosted by Ira Glass. The very human stories highlighted can be sociological, poetic, philosophical, interesting and moving – often, all at the same time.

It is educational and also a nice diversion from checking the news. 


I am a big country music fan – no doubt due to my Midwestern upbringing. 

I have been stuck on Miranda Lambert’s latest album, Wildcard. Like any good country music album, its roots are existential but the flavour is irreverent.

It is a great album to listen to while gardening with an open beer nearby.   

My favourite song at the moment is Bob Dylan’s Song to Woody.

You can hear the voice of Woody Guthrie echo through Dylan’s lyrics. It is a useful reminder of the hardships that may yet be to come. 


Given such anxieties, I have been reading how things ought to change once the Covid-19 crisis has passed, prompting me to read articles like ‘It’s All Just Beginning’ in The Point.

My research sits at the interface between the market and the state, and we are now seeing radical debates about the role of the state in our societies.

Recently, I stood outside our front door to clap for our NHS – a service that is free at the point of delivery – while in the US, people, insurance companies and hospitals are confronting costs that could lead to financial ruin.

How the US will change following this crisis is anyone’s guess, but I am hopeful that in the future my family, friends and colleagues across the pond will enjoy a health system that does not profit from their being ill.

Daniel Fisher is a doctoral researcher in organisational theory at Cass Business School