Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe
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Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  29,512 ratings  ·  1,411 reviews
Bill Bryson's first travel book, The Lost Continent, was unanimously acclaimed as one of the funniest books in years. In Neither Here nor There he brings his unique brand of humour to bear on Europe as he shoulders his backpack, keeps a tight hold on his wallet, and journeys from Hammerfest, the northernmost town on the continent, to Istanbul on the cusp of Asia. Fluent in...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published March 28th 1993 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published 1991)
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Eric_W
Bryson writes hysterical travel books. In this one he sets out to re-create a backpacking trip of Europe he made during the seventies when he was twenty. His descriptions of people and places will have you falling out of your chair. The beer he is offered in Belgium, for example, defies his palate. He just can’t associate the taste with any previous experience, but finally decides it puts him in mind of a very large urine sample, possibly from a circus animal. (He should have stuck with Coca-Col...more
Markus
Bryson at his worst. He is the whining American tourist he claims to detest. Meandering through a dozen or so european countries, he manages to complain about virtually every hotel accomodation. And for christ sake Bill, put a freakin map in your book. I'm not totally ignorant when it comes to european geography but if youre gonna write about travelling hundreds of miles every other day, i'd like to glance at the route with out having to bust out my world atlas.
After Shorthistoryof nearly everyt...more
Lindsay
This book was highly entertaining at times, I can't say it wasn't. In fact, it was highly entertaining most of the time. However, I can't say I learned hardly anything about any of the places Bill Bryson visited. He reserves most of his commentary for how far he walked to get to a train station, how fast or slow the train rides were, and how cornflake-sized bugars feel in his nose while on those train rides...

I hate to bash authors...that's not what I'm trying to do here. I am simply trying to s...more
Jessica
The reason I read this book is because there have been some excellent extracts from it in the course books I teach from. Unfortunately I think those extracts were actually the best bits... I certainly learnt nothing new from reading the entire book.
Bryson is funny, but after a while he comes across as whiny and just a touch xenophobic. I've never quite understood the point of travelling and then asking for 'something that would pass for food in America' to eat.
Furthermore, the chapter structure...more
Hayes
Amusing enough, along the lines of The Innocents Abroad: or, The New Pilgrims' Progress, but of course Mark Twain's version is far more amusing. Some funny observations about various places and people throughout Europe, many of which, nay, most of which he did not like or enjoy. Tries too hard for the laugh. Stick with the original:
The Innocents Abroad  or, The New Pilgrims' Progress (Modern Library Classics) by Mark Twain
RandomAnthony
Neither Here Nor There,, my second Bryson book (the other one was similar but focused on traveling through the US), reads smoothly and seems like a pretty good place for potential Bryson fans to start. Bryson is kind of like your uncle if your uncle was Chuck Klosterman in 2040 and very concerned about beer and hotels and people cutting in front of him in line.

This book, the story of Bryson retracing the path of one of his college trips through Europe, has its high points. Bryson is at his best...more
Jessica
Overall I enjoyed reading this travel memoir. Mr Bryson is witty and at times I was laughing so hard I had a hard time breathing. BUT, I found his repeated racial slurs annoying, then tiresome, then as they continued I was offended and somewhat disgusted. He goes a bit too far about Germans joking that he could recognize them by their jackboots. He loves to paint an entire country's population with the same brush. He says a couple of times that he thinks the Italians shouldn't have been told abo...more
Leftbanker
Why bother to actually travel when you can just regurgitate stereotypes that have been passed around since man invented borders? Honest to God, he really complains about haughty Parisian waiters. I didn’t find anything in this book of essays to be even remotely insightful and I don’t ever find Bryson to be funny. Most of what I have read by him is just a collection of his gripes against the rest of humanity.

I have never read any of his travel stuff where he actually meets an interesting person...more
Xandra
I was aimlessly wandering through Europe - which is probably the ideal situation to be in in order to maximize your enjoyment of this book - and, reading at the same snail's pace as my traveling, I shamelessly burst out laughing in trains, parks, coffee shops and even large takes-a-day-to-see-it-all museums. Bryson is hilarious (no question about it), he travels the best way possible (solo) and he's always cheerful as a summer morning (yes, even when he complains about stuff, it's all in good hu...more
Amanda Nelson
You guuyysss, I hate to travel. Not just like the process of being on a plane or train and smelling that recycled air and being told that I have to turn off my Nook like I'm an infant (though I do, in fact, hate those things), I hate being in places that aren't my house. I don't like not knowing where the closest Chipotle is. I don't like places that don't have Chipotle. I don't find New York magical and fun, I find it too big and everything is annoying and I just want to go home. Replace New Yo...more
Adrienne
I'm not sure I'm going to finish this book because I'm only on page 41 and I can barely focus on the words because I'm overwhelmed by the desire to to punch him very, very hard. I was trying to let some other ignorant comments go but then the chapter on Paris began. He goes on about how lights in French hotels are on a timer causing people to grope around in the dark if they do not find their room quickly enough:

"And from this I learned one very important lesson: The French do not like us. On m...more
Anna Savage
This book is terrible. I listened to it on CD, and the writing was so predictable that I found myself completing each sentence before it was spoken. That was, in fact, the only way I managed to keep my attention on the book rather than contemplating the fascinating landscape of Indiana visible out my window. But the book wasn't just boring, it was also embarrassingly bad. I was a huge Bill Bryson fan in high school. I decided to hike the Appalachian Trial after reading A Walk in the Woods. But I...more
Cynthia .
"Hugely funny (not snigger-snigger funny, but great-big-belly-laugh-till-you-cry-funny" - Daily Telegraph.

Hmmm... I think that review is a trifle misleading falsehood. Sure, some parts were funny, but it wasn't the sort to make your belly hurt and make you cry.

I can sum up the book with this: Mr. Bryson goes from one country to another and:

1. Finds himself a hotel. Always expensive. So he ends up complaining.
2. Finds a restaurant/bar. Finds it expensive and/or food is terrible. So he ends up c...more
brendan
Jul 23, 2007 brendan rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: older travelers and wanna-be's
while bill bryson does possess a fair amount of the cranky traveler that has overwhelmed the genre these days (and is found particularly appealing by the united states audiences) it fails to appeal to the younger traveler-more hopeful traveler

the comments that i found to be most exciting/humorous/poignant were those involving mr bryson's earlier european travail with the unfortunately unlikeable katz, particulalrly their almost pathetic and as my bryson claims, "catholic" starved sex drives, adv...more
Rob Warner
You know the canonical essay question, "If you could meet anyone in history, who would it be?" My answer is Bill Bryson. He's a treasure. I'd love to watch him write. I imagine him tugging scraps of paper from him pockets, pawing through notes, scribbling a few sentences through the haze of pipe smoke, and chuckling a bit before pulling out more notes. He's hilarious. He commands the English language like Pele commands a soccer ball, etching metaphors that resonate and wonder why you didn't thin...more
Katie
Apr 17, 2007 Katie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: travellers with a sense of humor
Bill Bryson is amazing. He captures the essence of the peculiarities of travel.. of people in general. I read this before going to London (also read Noted from a Small Island- about England which was also excellent).. If you've traveled or want to travel, it's a great little book full of entertaining short stories. I read part of the 'Belgium' chapter to my grandmother (she's from Antwerp) and she nearly went off her rocker. No really, she almost fell off her chair laughing. :o) I recommend.
Cheryl in CC NV
I generally don't rate books unless I finish them, but after reading other reviews I do believe I got far enough in to be able to judge this. Here's Bryson wittily whining again - sharing little bits of interesting insights into bits of Europe amongst lots of boring stuff about him and his inability to admit he'd have a lot less to whine about if he planned ahead just a little bit. A line of Americans for the Louvre!? Really?! Who'd've thunk!!
Tiggerj
I simply cannot read this book anywhere in public, because I just collapse with laughing, and people stare. You really have to enjoy Bryson's snarky sense of humor to get him; otherwise I could see how he would strike some people as whiny. When he loves a place, he really loves it, but if there is something to be exasperated about, he will let you know. I enjoy this as much as Mark Twain's The Innocents Abroad, for the same kind of snarky humor.
Laura D.
I did like this book, although I couldn't help feeling that following Mr. Bryson through Europe was a little like watching the movie Dumb and Dumber. I have traveled in Europe and my philosophy was completely different from his. I knew that typical American tourists spend a day or two in a place and then go on to the next place. I disagree with this idea so much because I don't see the point of spending a lot of money on a plane ticket to go to another continent if I am not going to experience...more
Thom Swennes
This jewel has been patiently waiting in my library for me to give it the attention it so richly deserves. I would often catch it giving me the eye from the corner of my eye but never let on. Finally the day of confrontation arrived and I took it down and blew off the accumulated dust, opened it and began to read.
One of the first things that came to mind was, “Hey, I was bumming around Europe at the same time and never ran into Bill.” The fact that probably close to a million other Americans had...more
Mary Simses
If you've never read any of Bill Bryson's travel books, you should. This is the third one I've read, and, like the other two ("Notes from a Small Island" and "I'm a Stranger Here Myself") I found it hysterically funny, entertaining, and enlightening. Although the book was written in 2001, my guess is that what Bryson captured in terms of the feel of each place he visited in Europe is probably still accurate. His descriptions are so vivid - the sights, the sounds, the people, the trains, the hote...more
Aklamo
So far (I'm about halfway through), this book is funny, but Mr. Bryson's approach to traveling is pretty limited and his approach to European culture is very jingoistic, which is unfortunate.

I understand that he's spending a lot of his energy being funny, and so you have to take his setups with a grain of salt, but still, his mentality is almost off-puttingly 'Amurrrican'.

####
Upon finishing this book, my analysis remains the same. There were some funny parts, but it was quite disappointing afte...more
Kelly
This book started off strong but really lagged by the end.

Personally, I enjoyed most the locations that both he and I had travelled to. Those chapters felt personal, real and engaging and they were what propelled me through the book. I can't deny that his descriptions of Italy where spot on, from the beauty of Sorrento to the terrifying reality of Naples. Even though I travelled to those locations years after his own journey, the narrations were still relevant, true and often hilarious.

However,...more
Al Bità
In Chapter 8 on Amsterdam, Bryson informs his readers that, to him and his friend Katz, the spoken Dutch language sounded “like nothing so much as a peculiar version of English”. To illustrate Bryson refers to a supposed dialogue between a Dutch hotel proprietor and his wife which is rude, crude, scatological, and, no doubt, “hilarious”… at the end of which the author concludes with “ ‘A smell of petroleum prevails throughout,’ I said by way of thanks and departed.” The oddity of this remark str...more
Marsha
I love Bill Bryson. I'm not sure I'd want to travel with him, but I love hearing him describe his own travels. This book takes him around to places in Europe where he and the famous 'Katz' (of A Walk in the Woods) had traveled in their callow youth. Hysterical hearing about the old memories and the new experiences. Some of the places he visits have changed since the publication of the book in 1992 - Sarajevo springs to mind.
His descriptions of his peevish rages are amusing and I would love to k...more
Corinne
Generally, I like Bill Bryson a lot. I think he has a strong personality that comes through as a distinct and accomplished writer's voice. I think he's funny and clever and I admire how prolific he is and the range of topics on which he writes.

This book, however, is definitely a young and not yet fully developed Bryson as a writer. While the personality was very much there on the page and there were some passages that made me laugh out loud, the book was largely incoherent. Bryson came across a...more
Melbourne on my mind
2.5 stars. Definitely my least favourite Bryson book. It's an interesting and entertaining read, as always, but I think it lacks a little of what I love so much about Bryson - his random historical/cultural sidebars. You know, the bits where he goes off on a tangent and tells a story about some nineteenth century dudebro who...IDK, got sick of girls rejecting him so dedicated his life to chopping down the mightiest tree in the forest with a herring or whatever.

This, on the other hand, is more o...more
Leah (Books Speak Volumes)
Twenty years after backpacking across Europe as a young man with his (rather unlikable) friend Katz, Bryson retraces his journey across the continent. Now middle-aged and somewhat less wild and spontaneous, he travels from the northernmost town in Europe through Scandinavia, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, the former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and Turkey.

My favorite parts of this book were his observations of the people in each city and country he visi...more
Marc Maitland
Bill Bryson has a most readable style, often tongue-in-cheek, and always entertaining. This, the latest of his books which I have started reading this year, takes us on a geographical tour of Europe, beginning in (of all places, Luxembourg!), and ending up in Istanbul, by way of most Western and a few Eastern Eurooean countries. My only complaint is that some chapters - each chapter being devoted to one country or city - are too short, and leave me wondering just what Mr. Bryson did on those day...more
Redshirt Knitting
I listened to the audiobook, which was my undoing in the end. I was blown away by Bryson - a very workaday sort of author - going all Proustian with the flashbacks and flashforwards. He would visit Prague as an adult, which would kick off a passage about visiting Italy as a callous young man, back and forth like this through time.

It was a commentary on the nature of travel and getting older, and on the ability of "where you are" to remind you of "who you used to be." A staggering work of subtle...more
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Bill Bryson was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1951. He settled in England in 1977, and worked in journalism until he became a full time writer. He lived for many years with his English wife and four children in North Yorkshire. He and his family then moved to New Hampshire in America for a few years, but they have now returned to live in the UK.

In The Lost Continent, Bill Bryson's hilarious first t...more
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“But that's the glory of foreign travel, as far as I am concerned. I don't want to know what people are talking about. I can't think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again. You can't read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can't even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.” 497 likes
“Is there anything, apart from a really good chocolate cream pie and receiving a large unexpected cheque in the post, to beat finding yourself at large in a foreign city on a fair spring evening, loafing along unfamiliar streets in the long shadows of a lazy sunset, pausing to gaze in shop windows or at some church or lovely square or tranquil stretch of quayside, hesitating at street corners to decide whether that cheerful and homy restaurant you will remember fondly for years is likely to lie down this street or that one? I just love it. I could spend my life arriving each evening in a new city.” 110 likes
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