Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe by Bill Bryson

Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe

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...

Title:Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0380713802
Edition Language:English
Number of Pages:254 pages

Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe Reviews

  • 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

    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 everything i was so high on him, now this...

  • Diane

    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

    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

    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

    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 too heavy in his pack. Here is how Bryson introduces Stephen in

    "Katz was the sort of person who would lie in a darkened hotel room while you were trying to sleep and talk for hours in graphic, sometimes luridly perverted, detail about what he would like to do to various high school nymphets, given his druthers and some of theirs, or announce his farts by saying, 'Here comes a good one. You ready?' and then grade them for volume, duration, and odorosity, as he called it. The best thing that could be said about traveling abroad with Katz was that it spared the rest of America from having to spend the summer with him."

    Hahaha! This book frequently made me laugh out loud and want to read passages to friends, but of course I had trouble getting the words out because I couldn't stop laughing.

    It wasn't just stories about Katz that I enjoyed. Bryson toured all over Europe -- he started in Hammerfest, Norway, to see the Northern Lights, then jetted over to Paris, then Brussels, Cologne, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Rome, Naples, Florence, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Yugoslavia and Istanbul. (That isn't even a complete list, but you get the idea -- he literally traveled from one end of Europe to the other.)

    While in Istanbul, Bryson decides he is finally ready to return to England:

    "I had come to the end of my own road. That was Asia over there; this was as far as I could go in Europe. It was time to end this long indulgence and go home ... And I was, I admit, ready to go. I missed my family and the comfortable familiarities of life. I was tired of the daily drudgery of keeping myself fed and bedded, tired of trains and buses, tired of existing in a world of strangers, tired of being forever perplexed and lost, tired above all of my own dull company. How many times in recent days had I sat trapped on buses or trains listening to my idly prattling mind and wished that I could just get up and walk out on myself? At the same time, I had a quite irrational urge to keep going. There is something about the momentum of travel that makes you want to just keep moving, to never stop."

    This book was first published in 1992, but Bryson's comments and anecdotes were so thoughtful and entertaining that it still felt relevant. I listened to this on audio, read by the author, and as I have said many times before, Bryson is a delightful narrator. The next time you get the blues, get yourself a Bill Bryson book and it will cheer you right up.

  • Jeff

    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,

    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, and short on insight. He comes off as a lightweight Paul Theroux; however, I was in the mood for laughs and there are plenty contained here.

    My previous Bryson book was

    , so it was nice to hear more about everyone’s nightmare travelling companion, Stephen Katz, even it was via flashback. Not only does Katz have awful luck with bird’s crapping on his head, but he has the singular worst pick up line ever.

  • 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:

    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:

  • 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—

    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

    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—

    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, Bill, but this book is not very good.

    To put it briefly, Bryson comes across as extremely immature in this book, both as a writer and as a person. He tries hard to be funny, but too often ends up making jokes about cultural stereotypes—Italians are bad drivers, the French are rude, and so on—or simply engaging in hyperbolic descriptions of extremely ordinary events, which unfortunately only serve to magnify their ordinariness rather than to alleviate it. This book contains very few of Bryson's trademark little-known anecdotes, and almost nothing that could be deemed insightful about the places he visits. He spends a distressing about of time talking about hotels and restaurants—mostly to complain about them—and more than once ends up eating in a McDonald's. Bryson even complains that a menu in a German restaurant was written in German. He might as well have stayed at home.

    I am, however, happy to report that Bryson has shown a definite progress in his writing ability and worldview over the years. In chronological order, of Bryson's books I've read

    (1993),

    (1995),

    (1998),

    (2000), and

    (2003). And in terms of quality, I would rank them in the same order. So however immature he may have been, at least he's shaped up; and it's a great sign when people are able to change for the better.


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