Sunday, January 23, 2011


It is my opinion that everyone should be acquainted with Bill Bryson...that is everyone who enjoys to laugh. In order to introduce you to this new way of life, I've decided to take the best of Bill from his book Neither Here Nor There, travels in Europe and post them here.  Enjoy!
"I arrived at the front desk just in time to take up a position behind twenty-seven Italian visitors who, in that interesting way of the Italians, were all trying to check out at once. This didn't help my fragile mood. Finally, the Italians departed, moving across the lobby as if surgically linked, and the last I saw of them they were all trying to go out the revolving door together....The girl continued to gaze levelly at me, though with a certain noticeable diminishment of good will. She had obviously weathered these storms before. "I am sorry if you find these small charges inconvenient, but it is normal practice in Copenhagen.'
'Well I think it stinks!' I barked, then caught a glimpse of a seriously demented person in the mirror-wild hair, red face, Parkinsonlike shakiness-and recognized myself. I gave her my credit card, scratched a wild signature on the bill, and with a haughty turn exited, regretting only that I didn't have a cape to sling over my shoulder and an ebony stick with which to scatter the doormen." - 113-115

"I checked out of hotel and walked to Rome's central station. It was, in the way of most public places in Italy, a madhouse. At every ticket window, customers were gesturing wildly. They didn't seem so much to be buying tickets as pouring out their troubles to monumentally indifferent and weary-looked men seated behind each window." -142

"We found the shore of Lake Geneva at Villeneuve and spent the next hour racing along its northern banks at a speed that convinced me the driver was slumped dead on the throttle. We shot pas the castle of Chillon-shoomp: a picturesque blur- flew through the stations at Montreux and Vevey, scattering people on the platforms, and finally screeched to a long, slow stop at Lausanne, where the body of the driver was presumably taken away for recycling (I assumed the fanatically industrious Swiss don't bury their dead but use them for making heating oil). -182-183

"Durbuy lay at the foot of a startlingly steep road on the other side of the hill. It looked to be about a half mile below me. It was the kind of hill that once you started down, you couldn't guarantee to stop. I walked with an increasing loss of control, my legs moving beneath me as if on stilts. By the last bend I was really just a passenger on a pair of alien stumps, which were frantically scissoring me toward a stone barn at the foot of the road. I could see myself going through it like a character in a cartoon, leaving a body-shaped hole..." 66-67

"I tried to diet once, but the trouble is diets so easily get out of control. I lost four pounds in the first week and was delighted until it occurred to me that at this rate in only a little over a year I would vanish altogether. So it came as something of a relief to discover that in the second week I put all the weight back on (I was on a special diet of my own devising called the Pizza and Ice Cream diet), and I still draw comfort from the thought that if there is ever a global famine, I will still be bounding around, possibly even playing a little tennis, while the rest of you are lying there twitching your last." 101

"My wife and I, still mere children, went to Paris on our honeymoon and foolishly tried to cross the Place de la Concorde without first leaving our names at the embassy. Somehow she managed to get to the obelisk in the center, but I was stranded in the midst of a Circus Maximus of killer automobiles, waving weakly to my dear spouse of two days and whimpering softly, while hundreds and hundreds of little buff-colored Renaults were bearing down on me with their drivers all wearing expressions like Jack Nicholson in Batman." 45


  1. Looked up a Bill Bryson quote and found this. I also love Bill Bryson. Seeing as we are Bryson admirers, I thought I should recommend another author. Have you read "Three Men in a Boat" by Jerome K. Jerome? Bryson has been described, probably only by me, as the grandson of Jerome. They have similar senses of humor, though "Three Men..." was written in the late 1800s. I highly recommend also getting the audiobook read by Martin Jarvis:

  2. Awesome!! I've been trying to find an author similar to Bill because he hasn't come out with anything new except the house book so thank you so much for the recommendation! I'll check Jerome out.

  3. I'd be curious to know if you like Jerome. If you haven't looked up the story behind Three Men in a Boat, it was originally going to be an account of Jerome and his friend's rowing down the Thames, but the funny bits were so popular that he took almost all of the guidebookiness out of it and created a novel. So he really is like Bill Bryson's [literary] grandfather, because there's still some long factoid passages.

    Have you also listened to Bryson narrating his own books? They are even better than reading them because of his delivery. In the same way, I like Martin Jarvis's reading of Three Men in a Boat more than my own inner voice of it.