Neither Here Nor There by Bill Bryson is a humorous travelogue that documents the author’s tour of Europe in 1990. The book follows Bryson as he retraces his first backpacking trip through Europe, which he took in the early seventies.
Starting from his home in England, Bryson visits various destinations such as Hammerfest in Norway, Gothenburg, Lichtenstein, Capri, and Istanbul. Throughout his journey, Bryson finds humor in any situation and also experiences some poignant moments.
The main theme of the book is to travel no matter what. Bryson explains throughout the book that life is too short to not see the world even if you only speak one language.
He doesn’t let anything hold him back, not even finances. Bryson’s journey definitely peaks in sunny and pleasant Italy where he commentates on the poor parking skills of the Romans. As his journey comes to a close, Bryson seems to embody the weary traveler who just wants to get back home (and starts his trademark humorous curmudgeonly writing).
The book is an incredibly fun read and is full of hilarious incidents and trial and tribulations of Bill and his friend Katz (who is more familiar from his appearance in A Walk In The Woods).
What I Liked
I liked reading Bryson’s “original” writing before he developed his unique voice. It was also fun to read him traveling in non-English speaking countries. Since he later focused on English speaking countries, it was interesting to see how he dealt with language / cultural barriers.
What I Did Not Like
I think the book is only worthwhile for die hard Bryson fans who have read his other work. It’s his first work and not his strongest. It’s missing a lot of the deep research that he layers into his later travel books.