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Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  40,982 Ratings  ·  1,926 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, 254 pages
Published March 28th 1993 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published February 1992)
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A Walk in the Woods by Bill BrysonBlood River by Tim ButcherInto the Wild by Jon KrakauerEat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth GilbertInto Thin Air by Jon Krakauer
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27th out of 1,413 books — 3,183 voters
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Sep 14, 2007 Markus rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Brendon Schrodinger
I'm a fan of Bill Bryson.

I'm not a fan of the complaining, whingeing, swilling pleb who wrote this travel book. No, this is too harsh. But I do feel a little ripped off only because I know how interesting a Bill Bryson book can be. There's no history in this book, there's no culture, there is very little interesting stories.

Here is what it felt like:

So I got off the train at Hergenbootensberg and it was raining. Why does it always rain when I travel? The place was a dirty shithole and no one sp
Oct 22, 2014 Diane rated it really liked it
This book hits the sweet spot: Bill Bryson travels around Europe, entertaining us with his humor and thoughtful observations, and also sharing memories of a similar trip he took in the 1970s with his bumbling friend, Stephen Katz.

Ah, poor Stephen. If you have read Bryson's book A Walk in the Woods, which is about hiking the Appalachian Trail, you will remember Mr. Katz as the comic foil, the ridiculously overweight guy who complained a lot and who threw away critical supplies because they were t
Jun 19, 2015 Jeff rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor, non-fiction
Three and a half stars rounded up.

It’s never a good idea to read Bill Bryson on public transportation. Stifling belly laughs can be painful and the resulting noise sounds like something between strangling an aardvark and air rapidly escaping from a balloon.

The benefits: Fellow commuters won’t look you in the eye and go out of their way to avoid you, so I practically have the whole train car to myself.

This is one of Bryson’s earlier books, so it’s long on humor, random observations and anecdotes,
Mar 18, 2009 Eric_W rated it it was amazing
Shelves: humor
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
May 16, 2016 Lotz rated it it was ok
I had a rather curious experience while reading this book. Because I'll be in Europe shortly, and I've been on a Bryson binge anyway, I downloaded the audiobook onto my phone and began listening. I took a walk and was merrily following along, until, at about one third of the way through, a thought flashed through my mind—This book sucks!

I was taken by surprise, because up until then I thought I'd been enjoying it. But the further I read, the more my judgment was justified. I'm sorry to say this
Aug 15, 2007 Lindsay rated it it was ok
Shelves: travel
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
Sep 18, 2007 Jessica rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007
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
Nov 09, 2015 David rated it really liked it
I am a fan of Bill Bryson's. Like so many of his other books, this book did not disappoint me. Occasionally his humor is a bit over-the-top, but I love it anyway!

When Bill Bryson was in college he toured Europe with his friend Stephen Katz. In this book, Bryson is much older, married with kids, and follows in basically the same footsteps, in a sense trying to recreate his earlier tour. He is alone this time, going from Scandinavia to Turkey, mostly by train and bus.

Bryson makes the trip in order
Dec 13, 2009 Leftbanker rated it did not like it
Shelves: travel
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
Jun 23, 2011 Hayes rated it it was ok
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
May 20, 2015 Fahad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Neither here Nor there: Travels in Europe

من هامرفاست على حدود القارة المتجمدة الشمالية وحتى إسطنبول، يأخذنا بيل برايسون في كتاب رحلات ممتع، فبعدما عاش على حافة القارة - في الجزر البريطانية - ولسنوات طويلة، قرر برايسون أن يتخلى عن بروده وأن يحمل حقيبته على ظهره وينزل ليتجول في أوروبا، كان قد تجول فيها في منتصف السبعينات مع صديق ثقيل الظل، وها هو الآن يقوم بذلك متوحداً، يقفز من مدينة إلى أخرى، محباً للدنماركيين وكارهاً للسويديين والنرويجيين، معجباً بالطليان وطريقتهم الغريبة في الحياة، ساخراً أبدا
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
Feb 14, 2011 Jessica rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Cynthia .
Jul 25, 2013 Cynthia . rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 300, bill-bryson
"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
Sep 07, 2015 Negin rated it it was amazing
Bill Bryson is, without a doubt, one of my favorites. His writing simply flows off the page. The Daily Telegraph summed this book up perfectly: ‘Hugely funny (not snigger-snigger funny but great-big-belly-laugh-till-you-cry funny)’. Yes, this is what I experienced also. There were a few parts where I honestly could not stop laughing for the life of me and felt pain in my stomach and had tears rolling down my cheeks.
Here’s one example of his visit to Istanbul, “The one truly unbearable thing in
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
Aug 10, 2007 Tiggerj rated it it was amazing
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.
Anna Savage
Aug 03, 2009 Anna Savage rated it did not like it
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
Oct 24, 2008 RandomAnthony rated it liked it
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
Rob Warner
Aug 19, 2011 Rob Warner rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 17, 2007 Katie rated it it was amazing
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.
Sonja Arlow
Mar 18, 2015 Sonja Arlow rated it it was ok
After finishing this book one thing is crystal clear, Mr. Bryson and I would not make very good travel companions.

Out of 22 Chapters and 26 cities in total there were only 3 cities where the author didn’t bash the locals, their lack of English (What did he expect?) horrible food, noisy streets, and unfriendly service……… the list goes on and on. I also noticed that the cities he had been to as a youth always left him disappointed and the few he now visited for the first time got glowing reviews.
Mary Simses
Sep 17, 2013 Mary Simses rated it really liked it
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
Sep 07, 2015 Trelawn rated it really liked it
Having just spent a few a days viewing Europe of the '90s through the eyes of Bill Bryson I have a strange urge to travel by train while simultaneously never wanting to leave home again. He is witty, irreverent and fearless, a somewhat imperfect travel companion but I will happily go wherever he takes me next.
Erica Miles
Mar 16, 2016 Erica Miles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In theology, we call it a 'calling.' A vocation. The perfect match between your greatest love and the work for which you are most well-suited or which God or the Universe has called you to do. Bill Bryson describes his travels in Europe with that sort of passion. But add to that, not only his talent for conveying information, but also his characteristic sense of humor, his ability to describe the things he observes down to the minutest detail, his exquisite writing style, the way he paints so de ...more
I've realized from reading this book how thin the line between hilariously funny and whiny is. And Bryson has crossed the line. Or maybe I drew the line thinner just because he did the unforgiveable act of not liking Cologne (which is still the loveliest city for me). So you've been warned, this review is subjective and biased (oh dear, so much so) and when I said I don't like it doesn't mean you won't, you probably will.

Anyway, midway reading, I suddenly had this thought. Is it possible that Br
Bill Bryson is near the top of my Most Read Authors list, not because I'm a particular fan, but because his audiobooks make easy listening for my daily walks. He doesn't attempt to do voices, I don't need to think too hard, and sometimes his stabs at humour make me laugh (and more often, make me roll my eyes). Neither Here Nor There has the advantage of being an interesting concept to me: after living in England for a dozen years, Bryson spontaneously decided to go see the Northern Lights, and a ...more
Baal Of
Feb 12, 2016 Baal Of rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Another book that falls outside my typical reading pattern, and another book that I snagged during the great book giveaway at work. I like Bryson's breezy style with lots of humor, laced with profanity, and sharp but sympathetic observations of human nature. I appreciate the fact that he presents his apparently raw, unfiltered thoughts rather than giving some kind of rose-colored view of the places he visits. He's not afraid to describe the raw sewage running from a sewer pipe right between rela ...more
bill bryson

I began reading another book of his, "Notes from a Small Island", and in the beginning I really liked it. Finally, I thought, a funny book that makes me laugh. Then the book changed and he was complaining about how England's architecture has changed for the worst, and I grew tired of the book, but then I found that I had ordered this one for my kindle and even ordered a paperback, which I will give to a friend. My left hand doesn't know what my right handth doeth.

This book was much b
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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
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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.” 650 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.” 123 likes
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