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220 of 234 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I guess you had to be there . . . .
It's interesting to read through the reviews for this book: most of those praising the book either come from Europeans, or else mention "Neither Here Nor There" resonating with their memories of travelling in Europe. The negative reviews all chastise Bryson for being too superficial, or shallow, or racist, or for not 'interacting' properly with the people he...
Published on March 5, 2000

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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Average Bryson--start with the others
This book is an average book: enjoyable at times, slow and boring at others. While Bryson maintains his sarcastic style used in Walk in the Woods, Notes from a Small Island and the Lost Continent (all better choices as intros to Bill's brain), he fails to bring out what always saved his sarcastic rants: his fondness for the people or country.
In the 3 books I...
Published on January 13, 2000 by papierman


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220 of 234 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I guess you had to be there . . . ., March 5, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe (Paperback)
It's interesting to read through the reviews for this book: most of those praising the book either come from Europeans, or else mention "Neither Here Nor There" resonating with their memories of travelling in Europe. The negative reviews all chastise Bryson for being too superficial, or shallow, or racist, or for not 'interacting' properly with the people he meets. What's particularly strange is the number of reviews that praise Bryson's other books, then say this one is not up to his standard.
Well, to those who fail to catch the humor here: book a flight to Europe, and see for yourselves. Europeans aren't somehow beyond the possibility of being unintentionally funny, and Bryson is not being an 'ugly American' for pointing out their foibles in very funny ways--witness, for example, his devastatingly funny transliteration of Dutch conversation, or his adventures getting travellers' checks replaced after they've been stolen by a Gypsy girl in Italy.
Bryson is also honest. He tells you what he likes, and what he doesn't, and, far from being xenophobic or parochial, he's perfectly willing to change his mind when a place he visits either exceeds or falls short of his expectations. He lavishes praise on the most unlikely of destinations, and avoids the fawning tones of many travel writers who feel somehow obligated to adore every place they visit, especially the most famous ones. All real travellers are familiar with this phenomenon: the most intense joys of travel are most likely to be experienced in the least obvious places, and often at the most inopportune times.
Finally, Bryson is simply funny, and this book is too. I hope he comes to Asia next.
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64 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No need to get in a fuss-this truly is a hilarious read!, May 12, 2001
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This review is from: Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe (Paperback)
I believe there are more than enough reviews here to decifer whether or not you plan to read this charming, witty and candid book. However, as an Australian raised in both Europe and America, I must heed a warning to those of you who read the negative reviews by Europeans and Asians. DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM!! They obviously lack a sense of humour and the ability to laugh at themselves (unlike Bryson). Bryson can be provincial at times, but he is so charming indeed! One who has traveled for days in a foreign land can understand his exhaustion and frustration and will howl with laughter.
Yes, Bryson at times can be brutally honest with his opinion of foreign countries and their inhabitants and culture, but they are HIS OPINIONS and they are frankly FUNNY and quite observant. I suppose those who take offense to his opinions neglected to understand that Bryson is a brazen self critic and will unabashedly admit to his lack of sophistication due to his stereotypical midwestern American upbringing. Please take no notice to the malevolence of the quazi-sensitive and humourless French and Germans who negatively reviewed this charming and engaging work.
Give the man a break and give this book a READ...Unless you possess absolutely no sense of humour, you will find it quite enjoyable!
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40 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A funny way to improve your cultural knowledge, November 4, 2002
This review is from: Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe (Paperback)
In his book "Neither here nor there" Bill Bryson writes about the experiences he made when he was travelling through nearly the whole of Europe, fluent in only one language (which is English).
He starts in Hammerfest, Norway (as far north as you can get in the world by public means of transport, he says), goes to Paris, Brussels, Belgium, Aachen and Cologne in Germany, then on to Amsterdam, Hamburg in Germany again, Copenhagen in Denmark, then onto Sweden (Gothenburg and Stockholm), then down to Rome, then to southern Italy (Naples, Capri and Sorrento), up to the top (Milan, Como), through Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Yugoslavia, Sofia in Bulgaria, and finally Istanbul.
As you can see, by reading this book you'll learn a lot about European countries with their different languages, customs, habits and ways of life. But this isn't one of those boring highbrow books, that you can't read without falling asleep - no! - once you start reading you can't stop. Bryson has a unique brand of humour that I personally like very much. He is able to crack jokes about any situation, no matter how hopelessly and unpleasing they might have been.
Especially as an European citizen you'll have a lot of fun because you recognize all the stereotypes that you know either from telling or personal experience. And be prepared for some nasty jokes about your compatriots!
All in all I can highly recommend this book to everyone who wants to get to know European countries in an amusing and interesting way.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bill Bryson has an incredible sense of humor, April 17, 2001
By 
"maria16" (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe (Paperback)
Bill Bryson really made it big in England after the release of 'Notes from a Small Island', which, however isn't his best book. His best would be either 'The Lost Continent' or this book 'Neither Here Nor There'. I very rarely laugh out loud at TV shows or books. Only 'Frasier' on TV and Bill Bryson in books have this capacity to make me laugh relentlessly. 'Neither here Nor There' is Bryson's story of the reenactment of his student-day travels through Europe some twenty years later. He tries to visit all the places that he visited with Katz (yup, he appears in 'Walk in the Woods' too) in the seventies, as well as Norway to see the northern lights. Bryson's descriptions of situations are hilarious, primarily because he is just a normal guy and you can imagine yourself in the same situation, especially if you have visited any of the countries he visits, but even if you haven't, it is still a delight to read. Another great thing about Bill Bryson is that he is not afraid to be politically incorrect, calling France's population 'Insufferably French' to give just one example. He is also happy to insult a place if he feels it deserves it, something which other travel writers can seem reluctant to do. He of course balances out these criticisms with his entusiasm for so many places and you also learn many interesting facts from his stories such as Liechtenstein is the world's largest producer of sausage skins and dentures. Hands up who knew that!!! I can't even begin to do this book justice in my review, all I can say is buy Bill Bryson's books and I promise you will not be dissppointed, they are all a joy to read. Bill seems a lovely guy and, in his words, not mine, 'If he wishes to acknowledge this unsolicited endorsement with a set of luggage or a skiing holiday in the Rockies, let the record show that I am ready to accept it'!!!
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a travel guide but for pure entertainment - VERY funny, February 28, 2001
This review is from: Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe (Paperback)
If you're looking for a travel book to use when you explore Europe, this one won't be the most useful book out there. But if you are looking for entertainment, want to learn a bit about Europe and are prepared to laugh uproariously, this is a great choice. Bryson skewers the traditions and habits of other countries, recounts many hilarious experiences during his travels and describes some of the best (and worst) destinations in Europe. He has a fine writing style, casual, breezy and unique. The section on waiting for The Northern Lights to appear - and waiting and waiting for days on end - was worth the price of the book alone.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars with dry/goofball/neurotic humor, this democratically makes fun of all cultures, January 21, 2007
By 
Robert Reid (Chicago, IL USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe (Paperback)
While Bryson does offer some historical context for the places he travels (especially in relation to WW II), whether you like this book or not depends far more on your sense of humor. There's very little dialogue and almost no social interaction outside of Bryson dealing with travel logistics- getting bus tickets, checking into hotels, ordering dinner. Personally, though, his dry/goofball/neurotic sense of humor made me laugh out loud time after time, and I found myself more surprised during short passages where he was relatively serious than the relentless humor. Only if you're obsessed with political correctness, he may offend you, but he is democratic in his targets, and even pokes fun at himself (for example, describing his temper tantrum in Sweden after having to pay for a failed phone call).

Some specific examples include him describing the cow as the perfect pet, a slapstick scene involving the meatballs rolling out of his sandwich ("like sailors abandoning a burning ship"), a woman on the train who "looked as if she hadn't smiled since 1937 and who spent the entire journey watching me as if she had seen my face on a wanted poster", and another train ride when he was "spreading out the map on my knees in its full crinkly glory, to the undisguised irritation of the old lady next to me, who hoomphed her bosom and made exasperated noises every time a corner of paper waggled in her direction."
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost unbearably funny, January 12, 2007
By 
Mike Smith (Albuquerque, NM) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe (Paperback)
Someone once said that you can fake intelligence, but you can't fake wit.
Maybe that's why there are so many books...but so few funny ones.
I for one think the world needs a lot more funny books.
I sometimes get sick of reading analytical nonfiction, sick of reading serious descriptive prose, sick of the things I read always demanding something from me, whether its my earnest attention or my logic and reasoning.
Sometimes, I just want to read something that will make me laugh.
That's when I'm grateful for Bill Bryson.
This guy is hilarious.
Forget how cranky and irritable his writing makes him seem, forget his biases, forget that the subjects of his books sometimes seem like little more than loose structures built solely to be ornamented by jokes, forget that his book jackets always mention that he's one of Newsweek's celebrated "boomers," forget all that.
Instead, just read his work, and take careful note at the number of times you have trouble breathing due to how hard you're laughing, at the number of times someone asks you if you're okay because they're not quite sure if you--you with the book over there--are laughing or sobbing, at the number of times you almost wake up the sleeping person next to you with your uncontrollable guffawing.
This book has little more going in the way of plot than the loose story of Bill Bryson traveling aimlessly around Europe, but it is funny. Hilarious.
If you have any sense of humor at all, you will laugh at it, I can almost guarantee it.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Average Bryson--start with the others, January 13, 2000
This review is from: Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe (Paperback)
This book is an average book: enjoyable at times, slow and boring at others. While Bryson maintains his sarcastic style used in Walk in the Woods, Notes from a Small Island and the Lost Continent (all better choices as intros to Bill's brain), he fails to bring out what always saved his sarcastic rants: his fondness for the people or country.
In the 3 books I listed, Bryson deliciously skewers the US and UK and their people, but there's always a loving undercurrent underneath (kind of like teasing the sibling which you love to death). In case you miss the point, he would end the book by saying how much he loved the respective countries.
In this book, no such love is found. He just rants and raves about different European peoples and cities. Further lowering the enjoyability of this book are the few remarks that could be considered racist or xenophobic. As to these remarks, they don't get a lot of airplay and only sensitive people (or members of the groups) will object to them, but they're there nonetheless.
All in all, I'd recommend this book only for those who have read the other Bryson travel books and need to read everything he has written. Otherwise, read the 3 books listed above and his essay compilation "I'm a Stranger Here Myself."
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Irony in Italy..., September 2, 1998
This review is from: Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe (Paperback)
I just returned from a Eurail trip, through Europe of all places, last week. I had never heard of Bill Bryson before I left, but I met this girl laughing out loud in a London Youth Hostel. She was reading Brysons book about travelling through the States and highly recommended it to me. Unfortunately I was on my way out of London that day and never got to a bookstore, but the name stuck in my mind. Four countries later (having looked in Spanish and Portugese bookstores) I was desperately in need of something more to read than my Let's Go and Thomas Cook (which I was near having completely memorized). Lucky for me I was in Gibraltar where I found a nice little english bookstore. Fortunately they didn't have "Travels...", but had this other book "Neither Here, Nor There." Since it was about Europe it only made sense to buy this book and have a go at it. Having just previously been or been close to all of the places he highlights, I absolutely busted a gut every time I read a chapter or two. I was throughly enjoying this book and looking forward to fininshing it in tandem with finishing my own trip, when something ironic occured in Italy. I had just been reading the chapter (laughing of course!) where Bryson gets pickpocketed in the Italian quarter of Switzerland; that night I was on a train to Rome when my backpack was nicked from underneath me. Despite losing really really important stuff, I also lost "Neither Here, Nor There." I couldn't help but think of Brysons similar situation which I had just read, thinking of this made my situation all the more funny, despite not being able to finish my trip. The main point here, although this is not your regular review format, is that Bryson is an extremely witty writer and right on in his assesment/observations of Europe and its people. Newsweek would say "Brillianly Funny!" I just say if you've been to Europe, or know anything about it, read this book. It doesn't matter if you've been to all the places or not, you'll still be crying by the end each chapter! One word of caution; if you take this book along and read it on your trip, he may rub off on you as you write in your own journal. You'll begin to see places through a slighlty distorted, although humorous, lens. I even started to write a bit like him. In any case enjoy, and happy travels! Oh yes, I would probably give this book a five star rating, but I still haven't read the last few chapters; so all I can say were that 4/5 of this book were excellent!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars He's not a Xenophobe, January 14, 2005
By 
Julia Webber "nerd" (South Bohemia, Czech Republic) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe (Paperback)
Bill Bryson does make fun of the cultures he encounters in this book. Yep, on just about every page. But guess what? He also makes fun of his own native culture, America (for an entire book of Bryson poking fun at the oddities of American culture, see "I'm A Stranger Here Myself") and of the UK, the country that he adopted as his own for 20 years. No, Bill Bryson is not a xenophobe: he makes fun of everyone equally, and he does it in a way which makes it obvious that he is in loving awe of the differences that can occur amongst members of the same species depending on where/how/by whom they were raised.

This book has two personalities to it- the involved tourist and the observational tourist. Bryson spends some time recalling the previous trek he took across Europe in the 1970's with his friend (of "A Walk in the Woods" notoriety) when he was much more involved in what was going on around him. He communicated with the people and the culture of the places he visited. During his return visit, 20 years later as a lone middle-aged tourist, he was less involved and chose to merely peer through the glass at the places he visited; this part of the story involves a lot of "I went from here to here, I couldn't find a hotel, the last bus had left, no one spoke English," etc etc. While this aspect of the book might not be as fun to read as Bryson's misadventures from other books, it is endearing because it is real. This is not a book that gushingly romanticizes travel, rather it is one witty, sarcastic man's take on the people and cultures that he encountered, both in the 1990's as a middle aged American expat, and in the 1970's as a curious 20-something backpacker. My favorite Bryson book.
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Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe
Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe by Bill Bryson (Paperback - 2001)
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