Bill Bryson’s take on life in England is humorous and fun. This one is perfect for the curmudgeonly armchair traveler. If you enjoy Notes…, I would also recommend his more recent book, The Road to Little Dribbling. Yes, it is a real place in England!
I also enjoyed The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society when I read it years ago. I recall it as good women’s fiction with likeable characters. A blurb:
Isabel Kidd is having enough trouble getting over her cheating almost-ex-husband’s death without the interference of her busybody neighbor, Bettie Shelton, cajoling her into hosting a scrapbooking party. Ava is struggling to make ends meet for her and her son, Max, making bottle-cap jewelry. Frances Latham and her husband discover some troubling news about Mei Ling, their prospective adoptive daughter from China. And there’s a goat loose behind Madeline’s Tea Salon. There are many threads to this story (including a female plumber with a secret past), but, like a good scrapbooker, Gee puts them all together beautifully. Bettie is the glue that holds the residents of Avalon together—whether they like it or not—and as she seems to unravel, the town comes together. This funny, moving book is the follow-up to Friendship Bread (2011), although The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society can stand on its own. A welcome addition to any women’s-fiction collection and a good choice for fans of Debbie Macomber’s knitting series. Recipes and scrapbooking tips are included. –Susan Maguire