• Neither Here nor There

  • By: Bill Bryson
  • Narrated by: William Roberts
  • Length: 9 hrs and 10 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (305 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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.

What listeners say about Neither Here nor There

Average Customer Ratings
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Might want to skip this Bryson

In general terms this just isnt one of Bryson’s best. I love so many of his other books but this comes off more whinging and ranty than humorous without the usual wry and sometimes subtle wit you’d expect of Bryson. This is more like the stories you would get traveling with your drunk, entitled and mildly racist uncle across Europe with the tired blanket statements about cultures (the french are so rude!) and predictable sexual or derogatory statements about all the women he sees. These jokes were tired long before this book was written. He also is almost certain to insult half his audience at some point in this book be it from discussing the great childhood joy of pounding on the fat kid at school (a treasured memory), to the rather uncomfortable objectification of women, the hatred of dogs/idea that all dogs should be gotten rid of to a remote island except poodles which should all be shot because dogs dont like him (wonder why), the book is just filled with statements that are likely to fall flat to modern audiences. Of course much of this is just said in humor but that type of humor tends to fall flat and this book really does just that.

5 people found this helpful

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Authentic Bryson, but that might be the problem

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

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.

What do you think your next listen will be?

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.

What didn’t you like about William Roberts’s performance?

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.

Do you think Neither Here nor There needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

Nope. I don't want to tempt Bryson into deeper navel-gazing, since this book took him to some pretty dark places already.

10 people found this helpful

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Disappointed

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.

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9 hours in a prison camp

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.

8 people found this helpful

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I don’t get it

Why write a book about travel if you hate everything? This book is whiny and entitled. I get it was written “in a different time”, but dear god, have some respect for the people around you. Offensive, ranting and boring. I tried to trudge through and finish it, but for the first time ever I won’t make it. This was my first Bryson attempt, and I won’t be making another one.
I thought the narrator did a nice job.

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hard for me to keep track

The stories and funniness were there, but some of it was lost during driving, which is where I listened the most. Great delivery, but I might have done better actually reading the book.

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  • 11-04-18

It doesn't work 30 years later.

Maybe this was a good story 30 years ago. It is frankly boring today. Pity.

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Adolescent but Hilarious

NOT a book that gives an objective view of other cultures, but an amusing look at the mind of an adolescent male.
If you are considering this book because you like Bryson's other work, don't. It is as if written by a totally different person.

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Usual good yarn from Bryson

Bryson doesn't disappoint with his wanderings around Europe noticing things and occasionally getting into entertaining trouble.

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Later stuff from Bryson much better

It's Ok and it has some good parts but it is much weaker than later books. He went back trying to find things he had seen before but everything had changed. The opposite of Rick Steves.

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  • Gillian
  • 02-21-18

Europe- More Blissful Travel

As I get older and due to restricted movement, my adult years of travel have come to end. This new chapter of my journey I hate with avengence. When I was able to travel, I rarely read travel books as I was too busy doing my own travel with my own many adventures. Now I copiously read/listen to travel books to satisfy my hunger.
Bill Bryson is my saviour and medicine.
This book covers many places I have visited in Europe. It is so beautifully descriptive of local customs of past and present, the people, the scenery, the good and the bad of travel and has so much belly laughter humour.
This trip is ideal for anyone wanting to visit Europe with Bill Bryson - it’s another great journey...thanks Bill

12 people found this helpful

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  • Salter
  • 09-21-18

A must listen!

Bryson's ability to succinctly describe every day things with such wit and humour is just magical. I really could listen indefinitely! I'm looking forward to listening to the few books from Bill that I've got left.
William Roberts describes the adventures and observations in such a wonderful way. I think the narration is as close to perfect as one could hope to get..
Highly recommended..

15 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mub
  • 10-19-11

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.

12 people found this helpful

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  • Andy
  • 03-29-17

decent enough, but this has dated!

Would you listen to Neither Here nor There again? Why?

No.I loved Notes from a Small Island the moment I picked it up. For a while back in the mid '90s I couldn't get enought Bryson. Listening to this audio book of Neither Her nor There brought a lot of pleasant memories back, but it also showed it as a somewhat dated "Daily Mail Reader Tours Europe" (even though he hates the Daily Mail). I think the somewhat irritating tones of the narrator (William Roberts) didn't help things here. My wife couldn't bear to listen to it. There seemed to be way too many antagonistic remarks about pretty much any country/people (which I know is somewhat the point), but it rather undid all it's good work some 20 years later and I began to wonder why the hell he bothered travelling at all, if he felt this way? Funny though it still is in large parts, it has a mildly icky undertaste that's a little patronising by the standards of 2017

What other book might you compare Neither Here nor There to, and why?

Notes from a Small Island - similar vintage Bryson. The Road to Little Dribbling - more contemporary, if slightly less funny

Did William Roberts do a good job differentiating each of the characters? How?

Not really many characters to speak of. Even so, his tone is a bit whiny and I think this dragged the funnier elements of the book down, making it sound like an American-knows-best kind of rant.

Any additional comments?

Remarking on all the bare-breasted women sunning themselves in parks might be the kind of comment made by middle-aged men (or teenagers) to their friends (in private, without being mic'd up) but devoting a vast chunk of a chapter of a book to it borders on the embarassing

17 people found this helpful

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  • David
  • 07-08-16

Was thinking of stoppong half way through

Would you try another book written by Bill Bryson or narrated by William Roberts?

No, although I liked some of the humour and the sarcasm, the narration was so annoying.

Any additional comments?

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.

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  • Just a reader
  • 11-27-21

Gross old man describes what turns him on. Avoid!

I've liked some of Bill Bryson's books, for instance Down Under and A walk in the woods. I did notice that he is pretty sexist and sometimes racist in that casual, midwestern American kind of way. In pretty much every book he writes there will be multiple disparaging remarks about women, especially if they are over thirty or not thin. Or he'll make a passing comment that makes you think 'Errrr... That wouldn't fly anymore today'. I kind of chalked it up to some of these books being pretty old (20-30 years ago). There was still enough fun stuff in them to kind of be OK with it. But they've made me feel a bit ick afterwards, despite some of the good jokes in them. I also listened to them for free (plus) so my standards were a little lower. Then I listened to his book about America and the way he speaks about women is just so cruel and unnecessary. If you google his picture, you'll see that he is not exactly eye-candy. But he freely discusses the looks of others. Every woman he meets is basically rated in terms of his attraction to them, or their subservience to him. If you are a chubby 40 year old waitress who doesn't drop everything instantly to indulge his every whim right now, you WILL be ridiculed and spoken about as if you are utterly disgusting and should just kill yourself. He literally says this at some point. If you are fat and he sees you, there will be a comment about how gigantic your behind is (in ruder words) and how that makes you inferior. As opposed to his mediocre chubby man appearance, I guess.

I'm not sure why I started this book after that. Because it was free, probably. But this one is even worse. He happily discusses wanting to grope unconscious women, creeping on girls working in service positions, how much of a turn on the white cotton panties of schoolgirls are to him, the looks of every woman he comes across, all the whores (his words) in Amsterdam, It is just one list of gross remarks after the other. Too many to list. He turns it up a notch into racist territory when describing the red light district. He states that all the 'whores' used to be so lovely over there, Dutch, beautiful and friendly. But now they are 'all Asian and African', and they look 'hard and mean'. Not once does he seem to realize how racist that sounds, or reflect on the fact that maybe these ladies aren't so friendly to him because he is trying to oggle them for free and they are most likely trafficked.

All this was enough for me to delete all the remaining plus books by this author. I think his more recent works are less sexist and racist, if only because his editors will have intervened by now. But his personality shines through SO clearly in all of them once you catch on to his schtick. He likes young, thin, white girls, and thinks everything that isn't that, is inferior. Not just unattractive to him, but beings that should be erased because he does not like to look at them. All this is brought in a whiny tone, with comments that are supposed to be 'jokes', but are really just excuses to rag on anything that isn't attractive to him. I also noticed that he easily throws his friends under the bus (for instance Katz in multiple books) and has no problem portraying people that try to help him in an unkind way. He's just a very self-centered man. Occasionally funny. But not funny enough for this to be acceptable to me anymore. I guess this type of book will speak to you if you are a certain type of guy. Hence some of the positive reviews. If you are not that demographic, avoid. It's gross.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Steve R
  • 07-07-21

Never before have I been so antagonised by a book

I've previously read and enjoyed excerpts from BB books so I quite looked forward to this experience. Sadly it's not the light-hearted and witty travelogue that I had expected. What it is is a hateful and relentlessly negative outburst read in an overly dramatic style. It lacks humour and is filled with the outrage of somebody who cannot fathom why he is given poor service by many that he meets, something that I was left in no doubt about. Bizarrely the author at one stage demands gratitude for winning WW2 and saving Europe from those that he meets when he himself was not born until 1951. This is an author that lives in UK yet often talks down that great nation. An author who's primary instinct is to make a beeline to the seedier side of town then talks the town down based on his first impression. An author who expresses his chagrin having not enjoying the gratification from such people he goes on to describe as whores. All this whilst his wife stayed home, pregnant with their child.
Listening to his often historically and geographically inaccurate rants with occasional sexism and racism mixed in for good measure led me to one inevitable conclusion, if you hate it so much why do it and having done it why write about it and inflict it upon us. A travel writer whose cultural mental block had him surprised when politely told about German social conduct laws.
Copenhagen seems to be the only city that he enjoyed, a point that could only derived from a lack of negativity. There really wasn't any great love expressed for it and he avoided the otherwise standard contempt and sarcasm vented about every other destination.
In contrast to this bilge, in my reviews on different subjects, I always attempt to find balance of opinion. This diatribe of rot however left me dumbstruck and honestly outraged at the author. Never before have I felt such annoyance at such an unnecessary book as this. I concluded that this is a traveller whose soup in every hotel in every city will have been topped up with nose drippings or worse. In my view a wholly justified change to the recipe in his case.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Tom
  • 04-18-18

Europe as it once was.

The Europe I knew and loved. Well written and read. A must read for today's traveller.
A mixture of humour and reality.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Macksparky
  • 02-26-15

Good listen

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.

7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • KOKSAL COBAN
  • 12-24-12

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.

6 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Chuck
  • 06-14-19

One long Whinge about being lucky enough to travel

Normally truly enjoy Bill's work but this was just a lazy idea for a book and was very disappointing.

5 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • C. Swan
  • 06-10-19

Disappointing in Parts.

Mr Bryson mainly complains his way around Europe in this book. He intersperses the complaints with memories of an earlier trip with a school friend and if you dislike hearing the F*** word frequently, as I do, then I suggest you save your money/credit as I wish I'd done. I bought this book as I'd enjoyed his 'Down Under' book.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-18-20

Stuck on a bus

Imagine being stuck on a bus for 9 hours, sitting next to a miserable, judgmental, racist whinger with very little positive comments about anywhere or anyone who just wont shut up and let you sleep. I’ve liked other books by Bryson but this book is bloody awful.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Jon
  • 10-07-20

blasphemy put me off

Uneccessarily taking opportunities to blaspheme. I find that offensive and have no idea why authors resort to it.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-06-19

Awesome

Amazing! Perfect book for listening to on your way to your weekend getaways! Good gob Bill!

3 people found this helpful

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  • Jh99
  • 08-29-19

Love Bryson, but cannot stand Roberts' narration.

Painful narration. I found it distracting and overdone. Hopefully Bryson will release a copy read by himself.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-24-17

Too Too Droll

sentences read with one liner swagger, a stand up comedy that lacked variety and rhythm

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-01-22

witty and entertaining

fascinating insight into European countries and their differences through the eyes of a knowledgeable traveler.

1 person found this helpful

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  • SW TUBBS
  • 02-05-21

Overcritical at Times

Entertaining for the most part but he was a bit overcritical of his hosts at times.

1 person found this helpful

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  • JUDITH LE MASURIER
  • 12-11-20

A big thumbs down

The title says it all for me> There is nothing more to say. Thumbs down.

1 person found this helpful