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Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe

(Bryson and Katz #1)

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  69,889 ratings  ·  3,249 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 1991)
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J. It's enjoyable as a bookmark in history but I believe many of the details which may have at one time been valuable tips on navigation and accommodatio…moreIt's enjoyable as a bookmark in history but I believe many of the details which may have at one time been valuable tips on navigation and accommodation may be irrelevant in the internet age.

I don't think I would reccomend just showing up in a major European metropolis and asking for reccomendations for places to stay, same day.(less)
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Sep 14, 2007 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
B 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
Roy Lotz
Aug 25, 2015 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
May 02, 2009 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've never read any of his travel stuff where he actually meets an interesting person wh
Sep 26, 2013 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,
Sep 05, 2012 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
Nandakishore Mridula
Oct 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
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
Nov 13, 2008 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
Aug 15, 2007 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
Feb 08, 2015 rated it it was ok

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
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
Jason Koivu
Nov 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, travel, humor
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
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
Jill Hutchinson
Jul 17, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, humor
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".
Jul 13, 2013 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
Fiona MacDonald
I always assumed that Bill Bryson was someone only people my dad's age would find funny, and although I appear to have amassed a selection of his books on my kindle, I've never felt like I wanted to start any of them.
The other day I found a paperback hidden down the side of my bookcase - it was 'Neither Here Nor There' Bryson's account of his trips round Europe. I decided to just read the first chapter to see what he writes about. All I can say is - I have missed out on reading Bryson at times i
Feb 14, 2011 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
David Rubenstein
Nov 09, 2015 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
Sep 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
‘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
May 08, 2020 rated it did not like it
I've been dying to read some Bill Bryson, and unfortunately I did not care for this at all. I kind of blame myself, because I saw many reviews that said his later work is much better. I was bored, and it barely held my attention. I just mindlessly let it play on in the background for much of the book. Some things I found slightly entertaining, but it just seemed like all he did was complain and criticize about everything in every single country. I'm still going to give some of the more popular w ...more
Aug 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-my-bookshelf
I don’t know if it was lockdown blues that prompted me to pick up a Bill Bryson book but I’m sure glad I did, I needed a reminder that the world still exists beyond my Local Government Area (it’s been a long lockdown here in Sydney) this is my best and safest method of travel for now so I think I enjoyed this book even more because of it. I had to keep reminding myself it was written back in 1992 so I could forgive some of it’s dated commentary. Not only was this a fun way to travel but I learnt ...more
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
Nov 14, 2009 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
Jacob Overmark
An American turned Brit re-does the travel of his youth …

With only one exception I have visited the same cities, and find it very hard to recognize them through the pen/eyes of Mr. Bryson.

If he wasn´t trying sooo hard to be ironically funny in every second paragraph I just might have enjoyed the trip more.

Clashing cliché upon cliché about European cities and citizens doesn´t make a travel writer, at best it makes a moderately entertaining stand-up comedian.
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
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Leaving his comfort zone thousands of miles away Bill explores Europe accompanied only with his curiosity and happy smile.


Buying bread...
You would go into a bakery and be greeted by some vast slug-like creature with a look that told you you would never be friends. In halting French you would ask for a small loaf of bread. The woman would give you a long, cold stare and then put a dead beaver on the counter.‘
No, no,’ you would say, hands aflutter, ‘not a dead beaver. A loaf of bread.’

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
Anna Savage
Aug 03, 2009 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
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
Rob Warner
Aug 19, 2011 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
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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.” 847 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.” 136 likes
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