In Neither Here nor There Bill Bryson 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. Whether braving the homicidal motorists of Paris, being robbed by gypsies in Florence, attempting not to order tripe and eyeballs in a German restaurant, window-shopping in the sex shops of the Reeperbahn or disputing his hotel bill in Copenhagen, Bryson takes in the sights, dissects the culture and illuminates each place and person with his hilariously caustic observations.
©1991 Bill Bryson; (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
I would recommend Neither Here Nor There with reservations, because the actual traveling-around-Europe portion of the book is exactly what I wanted from Bryson. Unfortunately, he indulges too much in digressions where he displays quite unlovable character traits, some of which include:
-despising all dogs and most animals in general
-shameless objectification of women
-defending his complete lack of remorse over beating up the fat kid in his middle school.
In a travel book, I seek to identify with the author so that I may see the places he goes through his eyes. Bryson's digressions make this very difficult, and it is hard to understand why his editor permitted them to remain in the work, since they are so extraneous to the purpose of the work.
I think there is a book that covers his ORIGINAL trip through Europe with Katz, and as a fan of A Walk In The Woods, I'm curious about that one.
Bryson freely admits being completely ignorant of all non-English languages, except for mostly-forgotten lesson in school. Despite this, Roberts continually indulges in heavy accents and pronunciations that feel false in the context that Bryson has created.
Nope. I don't want to tempt Bryson into deeper navel-gazing, since this book took him to some pretty dark places already.
It is difficult to compare audio editions with the print versions in most cases. When listening to others read a book, I almost always find I would have read it in a slightly different way. When I read a book, I put my own voices on the dialog, and I have my own way of reading and interpreting the sentences. These are small, subtle changes that I find important for my reading experience.
William Roberts does an excellent job narrating this book. I mean, Bill Bryson is who he is, funny, a great storyteller, and able to make almost any subject appear intriguing through his observations. I've read a book by him before, so I knew what I was getting for content. Therefore, William Roberts' narration came as a pleasant surprise and really made the listen a very enjoyable experience. He read with a voice much better than my own internal one, and in my opinion, emphasizing exactly the right words for each sentence, thus bringing out those extra subtleties I enjoy.
Therefore, I'm inclined to consider the audio edition better than the print version in this case.
Being from Norway, I obviously found the part where he travels to Norway particularly interesting. It is interesting to hear a foreign take of one's own culture. It is clear however, that the book is more than 20 years old now, so there's a lot of those small cultural observations that no longer applies. But, I'm old enough to remember!
I'm not going to lift a particular scene up to favorite status. The book was generally enjoyable, and not to mention a reminder of how much the world and particularly Europe has changed during the last 20 years. Some cultural differences have disappeared, some have emerged, as with currencies, politics, customs and culture.
In a way, the stories and observations are a bit outdated, but for someone of my age, that didn't lower the reading experience.
If I had had the opportunity to do so, I probably would do so. But then again, I would with any book, I guess.
In summary, I would say a very enjoyable listen, great but slightly outdated content, but with excellent narration.
I enjoyed some of Mr. Bryson's other books, namely Made in America and the obvious A Short History, and was excited to listen to a book about his own direct experiences. Unfortunately I didn't get what I was expecting. I couldn't imagine having so much privilege in life while complaining so much. Trip around Europe, full of new sights and experiences! Sounds great. Better complain for half the book about the bus ride in a way that's far from amusing. There is nothing compelling or interesting about this book or Mr. Bryson. I'll stick to his writings not about his miserable existence.
This is only my second Bryson book and is much better than the road to dribbling which was my first I highly recommend this book if u r looking for a good quick listen.
First, I always love Bill Bryson. He knows how to frame the mundane in clever ways. I laughed right out loud a few times while listening to this book.
I would have rated the story more highly if this one had more depth or heart or something. Didn't get a sense that he was doing much more than reeling it all out with a bit of Bryson frosting in places.
Quite well read by the narrator and worth the listen overall--just not as great as some of his earlier work.
If you are interested in graphic descriptions of European sex shops, then this is the book for you. Otherwise, I highly recommend another of Bryson's books, A Walk in the Woods.
"A "must read" for anyone who has experienced living in a foreign place or can appreciate the nuances of foreign culture"
I absolutely loved this book!! It is filled with humor throughout. I could really relate to the observances, comments and humor of Bryson's travel experiences and it brought back so many of my similar living &
travel experiences in Asia. That humor about some of the cultural traditions, nuances, idiosyncrasies is sometimes what keeps you sane!
9 hours in a prison camp certainly would have been more enjoyable. The author is an extremely arrogant and self righteous twit that has only s superficial knowledge of people, cultures and religions but that doesn't stop him from hating everyone and everything. Tedious and boring are his constant rants. Sarcasm is funny but constant whining is just annoying.
Old Fart 1960 (some day....)
I love Bill Bryson books especially when they're narrated by Mr. Bryson.
Read it himself.
I beleive he did it justice, but it really sounded contrived.
Disappointment compared to later works by Bill Bryson.
I don't believe it was the narrator, but I just couldn't finish this book. It was not the usual Bill Bryson that I've come to relish. It seemed to me that most of the stories were a bit contrived, and therefore Bill had to stretch the truth of what actually occurred. Well, maybe the narrator had something to do with it as Bryson's books definitely benefit from him reading them aloud. I may try to finish this book later, but for now it's on to something else.
I LOVE Bill Bryson's "Tales of a Sunburnt Country" and "A Short History of Nearly Everything" (or whatever their exact titles are) but I found this book to be a series of negative events stitched together with negative train rides and negative hotel experiences. It's like Bill would rather be anywhere else but having to travel through Europe. The book is written in the 90's, so it's a bit dated now (Yogoslavia is no longer a country, for example), but the experiences are the same. I really feel like Bill didn't want to take this trip and was FORCED to find a positive aspect of every country he visits. I muscled through listening to this book, though I was quite disappointed. I usually like his humor and wit, but it became rather annoying.
Yes, he is still a good author, obviously he was just in a bad mood when he wrote this book.
The narrator was great, with no weird verbal "ticks" that tend to annoy the listener. While I don't know any language besides English, it sounded like he pronounced everything quite well.
I have only read one of Brysons books before and found this to be in the same lighthearted, yet educational style. Had me chuckling outloud.
I loved 'notes from a small island' so thought I would enjoy thus. it was OK, it passed the time, but I was left feeling that someone who may have got more out of it should have taken the European trip. he was just passing the time and seemed not to enjoy it. although I did enjoy the northern lights at the beginning I otherwise found the whole trip uninspiring.
Narrator was Excellent. Story was not quite as good as the other book "a walk in the woods". Observations and insights not quite as funny as last book either.
"William Roberts is a delight. Brings it to life."
Roberts excels once again. This is not my favourite Bryson book by any means but I absolutely adore the narration. Waiting for him to do "Thunderbolt Kid"
"Hilariously discriptive and Brilliant"
Bill has a great expressive word power. He describes the situations, people and places with brilliance. His descriptive account of European travels creates an enjoyable picture to the listeners. I enjoyed the audio and got hooked on it.
"Fun to listen to.."
A very lighthearted approach to Bill Bryson's travels around Europe. The author makes it a fun to listen to his travel memoir with his sophisticated sense of humor. A number of different countries across the Europe are covered with interesting anectodes and sharp critical observations at times. Narration is also very good and clear. Highly recommended.
"An American in Europe"
Dull is the adjective which characterises this book. Bryson seems to see nothing, appreciate nothing and spends endless time speculating how things and places would be improved by some kind of Americanisation. As a fan of Bill Bryson's writing I was surprised and disappointed by this book.
"Another great travelogue."
Bill has seen these places twice now. I feel as though I have too. He takes me with him. I see the sights, smell the food and feel the same curious confusion. I sometimes think that Bill Bryson is more English than I am.
"Was thinking of stoppong half way through"
No, although I liked some of the humour and the sarcasm, the narration was so annoying.
Althoug the book is about stereotypes, unfortunately a lot of them are very outdated. Woman in germany dont shave under the armpits? Split a stinking city, Sofia communistic....didnt want to make the effort to see Cologne after first impression, but went back in Itaky to the same poor city and walked through it.
Got into way too many details at times. I enjoyed the hunour and sarcasm in some parts and then was about to stop when I listened for 5 minutes about some unnecessary details. Could have been half the size the book.
"As fantastic as always"
Just superb, I have listened to the whole collection atleast twice now and cannot recommend them enough. The writing style is superb, I could wax lyrical about the efficacy of his descriptive writing and humour but suffice it to say, you need to listen to these to fully appreciate just how good they are!!
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