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Neither Here Nor There

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  52,118 ratings  ·  2,632 reviews
Bryson brings his unique brand of humour to travel writing as he shoulders his backpack, keeps a tight hold on his wallet and heads for Europe. Travelling with Stephen Katz—also his wonderful sidekick in A Walk in the Woods—he wanders from Hammerfest in the far north, to Istanbul on the cusp of Asia. As he makes his way round this incredibly varied continent, he retraces h ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published October 9th 2001 by Anchor Canada (first published 1991)
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3.86  · 
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 ·  52,118 ratings  ·  2,632 reviews


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Markus
Sep 14, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
...more
Roy Lotz
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
...more
Diane
Sep 05, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Jeff
Sep 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
...more
Eric_W
Nov 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nandakishore Varma
Seriously - this book sucks. Big time.

Bill Bryson is as funny as ever; you can't avoid guffawing at some of his observations: but this is a book-long exercise in sarcasm. It's as though the author is saying: "Look, compared to these brain-dead Europeans, see how clever I am!" Being a sarcastic SOB myself, I can understand the attitude - but find it difficult to sustain 200+ pages of it.

And really, for a travelogue, it does not give the reader what he/ she wants - information on the country trave
...more
Jason Koivu
Huh. Turns out Bryson is a dirty ol' bugger!

This travel-across-Europe journal is fun, educational and entertaining. I love travel and I like learning about far-off places. Europe has been done and overdone, yet I still find it fascinating.

Bryson's recollections are from when he wrote the book in the '90s as well as from a previous trip he and his friend Katz took. Regardless of when the reminisces come from, details ring true from the experiences I've had of the same places, such Paris and part
...more
Lindsay
Aug 15, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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Jessica
Aug 26, 2007 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
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Barbara
Feb 08, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

In this book travel writer Bill Bryson wrote about a whirlwind trip through Europe that seemed designed solely to give him something to write about rather than a journey he actually wanted to take. I didn't take notes so Bryson's stops in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Lichtenstein, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Austria, Italy, etc. blended together into a continuous blur of traveling, finding hotels, walking around, looking at things, eating, drinking, and so on. I could hardly distinguish one city from anot
...more
Leftbanker
May 02, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
David
Nov 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...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
Jill Hutchinson
I have to admit that Bryson is a funny man and I chuckled several times while reading this book BUT he is also very snarky and not politically correct. This book covers his travels in Europe from Norway to Istanbul and his complaints about everything, including the tourists....hey, isn't he a tourist?

Sweden....... beautiful people and the women try to catch what sun there is while sunbathing topless.
Paris...loves the city, hates the people who "needed the Americans to help them win the war".
Germ
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James
Sep 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘Notes from a Small Island’ and ‘Neither Here nor There’ are Bill Bryson’s early travelogues concerning his journeys through Britain and other European countries respectively.

Both of these books are the strongest and the funniest of Bryson’s earliest work and undoubtedly established his reputation (at that time) as a travel writer and commentator of repute, producing engaging and very entertaining travelogues.

Now very much the Anglo-American (having lived at times in the UK and now holding dual
...more
Jessica
Feb 14, 2011 rated it it was ok
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 Peña
"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
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
Jan-Maat
I find Bryson a very skilful author, easy to read, enjoyable while it lasts and then completely forgettable. It is the the snack you can read between books and not spoil your appetite. All I can definitely remember from this one is the 'pick-up' line his sidekick used in pubs and clubs (view spoiler).

It is an OK, middle of the roa
...more
Negin
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
...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 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 humor).

I can't help but ima
...more
Christine Zibas
Bryson is one of the funniest travel writers around, and this book is no exception, even if it's a little dated. Revisiting the places he first explored as a young backpacker, Bryson travels the European continent this time with a decidedly more adult approach. Plenty of laugh out loud moments are sprinkled throughout this book. If you are anything like me, Bryson's stories will have you thinking it's about time to drag out that suitcase again for your own European adventure.
Rowan
Sep 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Neither Here, Nor There made me laugh-out-loud during a time I needed it the most, so thank you Mr Bryson! I had previously only read one Bill Bryson book - Down Under, while in school. My only recollection of that was Bryson's ability to describe Australians perfectly and I got an A on the related essay.

In Neither Here, Nor There, Bryson loosely retraces his journey across Europe from years earlier, beginning up in Norway and finishing down in Istanbul. Ever since watching the film adaptation o
...more
Sharon
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: almost-favorites
How have I lived 40 years without the company of the marvelous Bill Bryson? And HOW did I not recognize his amazing talent in the first few pages of Neither Here Nor There: Travels In Europe? Seriously, when I started the book (he begins his adventure in Norway, or Finland or somewhere), I wasn't that impressed. I'm ashamed to admit it, but I may have even thought, "I could write this." (I know, blasphemy.) I may have even said it out loud to a few people that now I’ll have to dispose of.

But nop
...more
Anna Savage
Aug 03, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Rob Warner
Aug 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Carol Jones
Aug 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Katie
Apr 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jason
Aug 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bill Bryson is 1 part comedian, 1 part explorer and 1 part grumpy-old-bastard, when you put those three things together you get a very funny travelogue by a reluctant traveller who dislikes most humans.

Neither Here nor There covers two journeys, one when Bill was young and touring Europe with his "mate" Katz and today where Bill is retracing that first journey. He visits France (full of psychopaths), Belgium (sooooooo dull), Scandinavia (too wet), Italy (untidy), Switzerland (grumpy people), Ger
...more
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William McGuire "Bill" Bryson, OBE, FRS 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, Bil
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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.” 807 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.” 138 likes
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