Book review: Dear Bob and Sue


I love to read.

It has been a life long habit that was instilled at a young age.

And probably the best thing my parents and grandparents did for me: Encouraging my love for books.

Occasionally I just want a quick and easy read for a flight, killing time in the dentist office or any other time that involves waiting.

These are not books to read that tell an enthralling story or give me insights into a topic.

These are books that are entertaining, light and can be picked up and  put back down at my leisure.

In the past, I’d get these types of books at the thrift or used book store. A buck or two at the most.  Or I’d hit up the library and go to the SciFi section.

When done with the book, I’d just re-donate it or return as appropriate.

Today? With my tablet, I can carry dozens of books with me at any time. I can read something a little more in depth when the mood strikes me or read an entertaining, but very detailed and engrossing, book when I want to shift gears a little bit if needed. (Though, I must confess, I tend to read a book straight through…I rarely read multiple books at a time)

My local library has many online books available for lending and has been a wonderful way to keep my reading habit affordable in the electronic age.

But sometimes I still want something I can put up and down easily. Something that is not mentally engaging or a page-turner I can’t put down.  I want a light read perfect for a flight of a few hours.

The library will have these types of books available of course.

But an increasingly good way to get these books are through a website I’ve mentioned previously.

Free Book Sifter has self-published books that aren’t in the library. Science Fiction, history, outdoors or even cooking among the many categories.

And most of these free books are self published.

Self-published books were a bit of a joke in the print age.

But now in our digital times?  They seem to be a good way to get out books for a small niche. Books that would not be available through traditional publishing houses.   Much like our popular media overall in 2016.

Self-published books sales are often small. But sometimes they become runaway successes. 

There is some dross among the self-published books. But sometimes gems can be found.

At the end, self-published books are a way to read something a little off the beaten path that normally would not be available easily.

Which is how I found Dear Bob and Sue

To quote the authors, the book Dear Bob and Sue

…chronicles our journey to visit all 59 US national parks, written as a series of emails to our friends, Bob and Sue. This book is NOT a guidebook to the national parks with eloquent descriptions of scenery, although many reviewers have said they use it as a guide when visiting the parks. Our book doesn’t have pictures or maps (too expensive), a table of contents (too hard to figure out in a digital format) or mommy porn (too disturbing for our children to read). There are no vampires or teenage paranormal fantasies in this book. And, since we’re not writers by profession you might find grammatical errors we didn’t catch. Instead, these emails to Bob and Sue, written over a span of two years, contain random observations about the parks we visited, the people we met and what we ate for lunch. Some of the consistent themes are Matt’s OCD (he claims there is no “D”), squirrels, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and beer; with a mid-air plane collision and some grizzly bears thrown in for added excitement.

It is not #EPIC, or a Walden-like treatise on finding spirituality in nature.

It is about a married, I am guessing reasonably affluent and recently retired, couple who visit all the national parks.

On paper, it sounds a bit like watching someone’s PowerPoint presentation on their Disney Land vacation.


But the book is actually a bit in the vein of Bill Bryson’s books.

The journey is a just a conveyance for some observations. And the observations are wry, flippant and sometimes self-effacing.

The book itself is a good way to take in and read about the national parks in the US.

The couple does not backpack. Nor do they camp. And their hiking is more akin to strolls in many cases.

What they do, however,  is go to some interesting places and make some entertaining observations.

Have a flight of a few hours? Consider buying the e-version of this book.

It is not epic literature.

Nor will you gain insights into the universe.

But you will be entertained while enjoying a complimentary beverage from your friendly flight attendant.

And that is all that is needed at times from a book.

Dear Bob and Sue was a free download a year or so ago. It can now be purchased for $2.99. I have no connection to the authors. The authors’ website may be found at

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