But I do like travel memoirs? They do exactly what books should do: transport you somewhere without you having to put on pants. And I love Bill Bryson, having read A Short History of Nearly Everything, so I expected this to be pithy and great and it was.
In Neither Here Nor There, Bryson travels across Europe, recreating the trek he made as a backpacking youngster (like you do). He drinks coffee at small cafes in France, marvels at how clean it is in Sweden, remarks on the declining quality of the sex workers in Amsterdam (?), gets grossed out by the piles of trash in Naples and how everyone in Austria hates you (THIS IS WHY I DON'T GO ANYWHERE), etc., etc.
You could rename this book All These People Are Exactly Like Every Cliched Joke You've Ever Heard About Them, And Are In Fact A Little Bit Worse. But The Food is Nice. Sometimes. I was taken aback several times by the complete lack of political correctness Bryson expresses about the various people groups of Europe, but he says them with such aplomb and smart-assitude (which I love) that you're sort of fine with it? Even though you're sort of not? Like, hey that was a really rude thing you just said about secretaries in Holland, but it was really funny. And I've never been there, so maybe they do spend all day sunbathing without shirts on in the park. What do I know.
So the real question for me was: is this book going to make me want to go to Europe? Yeah, no. But I wanted it to! I wanted to be pulled out of my sight-seeing laziness! But mostly he makes All The Countries sound hot and dirty OR freezing cold and also dirty and with long lines to get into the museums and a lot of good food but also a lot of shitty food and sometimes the strangers are rude. WHICH IS EXACTLY LIKE VIRGINIA WHY WOULD I EVER LEAVE.
Three stars out of your mom.