• Neither Here nor There

  • By: Bill Bryson
  • Narrated by: William Roberts
  • Length: 9 hrs and 10 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (312 ratings)

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Neither Here nor There

By: Bill Bryson
Narrated by: William Roberts
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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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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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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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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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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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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.

4 people found this helpful

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Negative and Outdated

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

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.

Would you ever listen to anything by Bill Bryson again?

Yes, he is still a good author, obviously he was just in a bad mood when he wrote this book.

What does William Roberts bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the 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.

1 person found this helpful

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Early work shows rawness of author

Would you try another book from Bill Bryson and/or William Roberts?

I love Bill Bryson books especially when they're narrated by Mr. Bryson.

What could Bill Bryson have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Read it himself.

What three words best describe William Roberts’s performance?

I beleive he did it justice, but it really sounded contrived.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment compared to later works by Bill Bryson.

Any additional comments?

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.

1 person found this helpful

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The narrator delivers the book

Would you consider the audio edition of Neither Here nor There to be better than the print version?

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.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Neither Here nor There?

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!

Which scene was your favorite?

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.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

If I had had the opportunity to do so, I probably would do so. But then again, I would with any book, I guess.

Any additional comments?

In summary, I would say a very enjoyable listen, great but slightly outdated content, but with excellent narration.

1 person found this helpful

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So much whining!

I think I’ve read almost everything. I’ll Bryson has written and loved every word of it. Except for this book. There wasn’t a single place in all of Europe that he didn’t bash and complain about.

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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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  • 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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  • Mr. N. J. Murphy
  • 01-26-10

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.

16 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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  • 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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    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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  • 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.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Danielle
  • 03-25-15

disappointing

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.

7 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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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Sara
  • 01-05-12

Very enjoyable.

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.

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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  • 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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    2 out of 5 stars
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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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    3 out of 5 stars
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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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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • J W
  • 01-28-15

If you are amused by sexually deviant things

Then buy it if not forget it and you have to write nineteen words to leave a review! What next?

3 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