“Notes From a Small Island,” by Bill Bryson

 Like many people, I had planned on being abroad this summer but have to travel vicariously. Bill Bryson’s crotchety farewell tour of England was just what I needed: enough tea and scones and eccentric English people to satisfy my PBS yearnings, with some history deftly woven in. Bryson is scathingly funny in his criticism of petty people, contemporary architecture and bureaucratic imbecilities, but his genuine admiration for England and the English takes the edge off his snarkiness. He’s a good travel companion as I sit on my patio and dream.


 Quarantine Read highlights soothing books in a fraught time. Send your recommendations to books@startribune.com