Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe

by Bill Bryson | Travel |
ISBN: 9780552998062 Global Overview for this book
Registered by LaPitchoune of Helsinki, Uusimaa / Nyland Finland on 1/4/2009
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5 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by LaPitchoune from Helsinki, Uusimaa / Nyland Finland on Sunday, January 04, 2009
This book was bought in a second-hand bookstore along Orchard Road, Singapore. The bookstore also rented out books, but this one was bought as a travel souvenir. I thought it would suit the theme of this book to let it travel around from person to person.

Neither Here Nor There is a hilarious travel journal where Bill Bryson makes his way through the European continent, starting from northern Norway and ending up in Istanbul. At times I burst out laughing out loud while reading about the funny little incidents reported in the book. The descriptions are merciless! Bryson criticizes, mocks and makes fun of places & people, yet giving full-blown credit to the things he appreciates, be it politics or the simple beauty of certain landscapes.

For a Finn, the parts about Nordic countries were maybe the best bits. I'll forgive Bryson for not taking our country into account while mentioning the local suicide rates. Calling Swedes an exceptionally suicidal people may be regarded as a small lapse in that respect. Anyways, the short sidenote about Muonio, Finland, was raw, to say the least, and I couldn't help feeling somewhat disappointed with all the glory and praise about Italy. I guess anyone would love the stunning sea views from Capri, wouldn't they. Loving Italian carelessness & gourmet food is simply so easy. Or was it plain envy I felt upon reading that?

Anyways, some of the cities are totally unknown to me, and it was both interesting & a little frustrating to read about all the minute details. All in all, one can't but appreciate Bryson's devout dedication to European cartography. I really loved the open-minded traveller's identity he seems so fluent at. It was so easy to relate to the kinds of episodes every tourist experiences every once in a while: ordering, say, a loaf of bread and being served a dead beaver, for which you complain, and get totally misunderstood (why, wasn't that what you ordered?), which all adds up to the result of being treated as a complete idiot :)

What was surprising to me, after having read Bryson's absolutely magnificent A Short History of Nearly Everything, were not only the rather uninhibited sexual remarks about Ornella Muti, among others, but also the comment he makes on p.241: my grasp of science is such that I don't actually understand why electricity doesn't leak out of sockets. The fact that he doesn't have any kind of scientific background is surprising, but that's another matter and another book.

The overall feeling I was left with was humanity. Bill Bryson seems like a wonderful human being, living in a world of people & their culture. Now that's not a bad achievement for a travel book, I reckon.

Countries covered in the narration include Norway, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Yugoslavia, Turkey, and some other countries as brief sidenotes.

Journal Entry 2 by LaPitchoune from Helsinki, Uusimaa / Nyland Finland on Friday, January 30, 2009
Bookring attendees

Timber77 (Canada, ships int'lly)
kbmarsh (prefers UK)
Penelopewanders (Switzerland, no rush, ships continentally)
Bookgeo (Finland)
BlackDevil (Finland, no rush)
LaPitchoune (back home in Finland, no rush)

17.2.2009 THE BOOK IS ON ITS WAY! Have a safe trip!

Journal Entry 3 by Timber77 from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Received in the mail and have already read to Cologne! Thanks LaPitchoune - I loved the postcard and stickers on the envelope, a colourful package with the book nicely covered too. I may not be travelling to the UK anymore, but will have it on its way to the next in the ring within the next 4 weeks.
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Updated Mar 2009: Finished the book quickly (came at a time when I didn't have other rings here), so have PM'd the next in the ring and will send once I get the address.

This wasn't one of my favourites from Bill Bryson - he moved on from one place to the other so quickly that Europe seemed to go by too quickly; admittedly it is a wide scope for one small book! Also, it seemed to be described in a negative light with too much description of his dodgy hotels! Capri is somewhere I have always wanted to go, and which did have a glowing description in the book. Having travelled in several Western European countries I could appreciate the stereotypes mentioned on pages 42 and 43!

Thanks for sharing LaPitchoune - unfortunately I have never been to Finland, but maybe one day! Your journal entry was fantastic description of the book!!



Journal Entry 4 by wingpenelopewanderswing from Hasliberg, Bern / Berne Switzerland on Monday, June 08, 2009
This arrived safely here today. I haven't read a Bryson in several years, so I look forward to this treat. Thanks for making it available, I'll try to get to it as soon as possible.

Journal Entry 5 by wingpenelopewanderswing from Hasliberg, Bern / Berne Switzerland on Thursday, June 18, 2009
Some parts of this were very funny, but in some ways it reminded me of A Walk in the Woods, in that it starts out hilariously amusing, and then runs out of steam. For the first time I started to find Bryson (or the narrator, I assume he's one and the same) very irritating and someone I would not want to be stuck on a long journey with. His pride in only speaking English grates a bit, and there was a certain general lack of tolerance, I found. Some very funny parts, but always a rather acid humor.
The next crosser is off-line until June 24th, I'll send on when I hear back.

CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:

This got caught up in the end of school year report writing etc, but I finally got around to parcelling and posting it now. Enjoy!
and thanks so much for making it available.

Journal Entry 7 by wingBookgeowing from Pirkkala, Pirkanmaa / Birkaland Finland on Thursday, July 16, 2009
The book arrived on my doorstep today. Many thanks penelopewanders!

The book must have experienced quite an adventure before reaching Finland as there was a stamp *Missent to Japan* on the envelope! I don't really know how that is possible, as the address and the other postal markings were correct, but it sure is interesting :).

I will start reading this after I get another ring and one challenge book cleared up.

Journal Entry 8 by wingBookgeowing from Pirkkala, Pirkanmaa / Birkaland Finland on Sunday, August 16, 2009
It was a pleasure to follow Bryson on his travels in Europe through so many places also familiar to myself. I enjoyed his descriptions on his Nordic adventures although I did not necessarily agree with his reviews on the cities he visits. For example I quite like Muonio in its tinyness :).

On the places still unvisited for me I felt I got new aspects on the daily life there. Bryson skillfully describes the tourist's challenges, even if I could not help thinking he must have added some exaggeration in some points. Luckily he also nicely brings up the joys travelling brings you. This book did have many hilarious moments that made me laughing a lot.

On the other hand Bryson explores Europe as an open-minded traveller but still he constantly is very negative about everybody not speaking English. I found this very stupid, like he would actually believe his mother tongue is naturally spoken all over the world! And he mocks the German language quite harshly, not noticing that it is possible to guess the meaning of quite many German words just by knowing English. Also, in some points of the book Bryson appears a bit like a chauvinistic jerk with his comments on females.

Thank you for this bookring! The book will continue to BlackDevil to Nokia tomorrow.

Journal Entry 9 by wingBlackDevilwing from Nokia, Pirkanmaa / Birkaland Finland on Monday, August 17, 2009
The books is safely at Nokia and I just started my summer holidays so I hope to get some warm sunny days still even if we are slowly approaching to autumn to read this outside, sipping some Pepsi Max, eating sweets and enjoying of being lazy. :)

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