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4.7 out of 5 stars152
4.7 out of 5 stars
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 21 February 2012
I've read countless adventure and travel books and the majority fail to address the psychology of why we love to travel - a genuinely interesting subject matter. This book manages to explore our constant desire for travel in a clear and tangible way by following a simple walk across India.

The journey itself is not as spectacular or 'epic' in comparison to his other adventures, yet it manages to perfectly capture the essence of an adventure. He really emphasizes key elements such as the 'get up and go' factor and I love it.

Simple chapter headings, 'sunrise, dawn, challenge, alone' etc will keep the reader entranced and enthralled in this journey. As with all of Alastair Humphrey's books they are beautifully written, a rarity for this genre, it really does make such a difference to read, for the simple element of expression.

If you are a 'traveller' (I use that expression reluctantly), or a more noble adventurer, then this is the book for you. I myself have done cycle touring and I could now comfortably settle down to life of cups of tea and heated car seats, this book reignites the spark in me to get back on the open road, and when I do, the first thing I do will be to pack this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 17 July 2013
This was the first book I read by Alastair Humphreys which I came across quite by accident whilst looking for something else but I'm so glad I did. It is not like any other travel book I have read before where you get an almost day-by-day account of a journey in diary form. This book captures 'Alastair's India' as he walks the length of a holy river, condensed into what appears to be a single day. Alastair writes, "I don't have the capacity to bottle the extraordinary essence of India" but in the 121 pages I felt he did exactly that. Not only are there some incredible descriptive passages of daily life in rural India, some wonderful insights into the philosophy of travel through the use of interior monologues, but the occasional dramatic aside pulls you into the action, and the vocabulary and patterns of language used throughout complement the content and make this a highly sensory read.

For those of you who are thinking about dipping your toe in the water and setting out on a journey of your own, be it a small 'Microadventure' at home or a 'Macroadventure' in far flung lands, this book would be a great travel read and inspiration for your own journey.

This is short enough to read in one sitting and yet packed full of interesting thoughts about travel and delivered with great humour. A thoroughly enjoyable read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 22 November 2011
I'm one of those people who devour adventure books because vicariously I can be out there experiencing it too. In this book Alastair takes us on an internal journey as much as describing parts of his walk across India. It resonated with me deeply in parts, the need to be someone extraordinary, the desire to shed all physical possessions and just exist simply. I identify with the need to keep moving - I move every few years but I'm not as brave as Alastair. I also fell in love with India when I travelled there. It's one of those places I felt at home in so it was great to revisit some of those impressions through the eyes of such a seasoned traveller.

I find myself strangely jealous of the freedom to sleep under the stars, to walk towards the setting sun, to take each day anew. If you sometimes feel this way, you'll love this book. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 January 2013
To quote a passage from the book 'This book is not a chronological narrative across's like an adventure haiku and a few excerpts should suffice to recount the walk'. There then follows twenty four brief points that do that so well but what sort of book is it?

This is an extremely well written book by a well travelled, knowledgeable and educated person. Whilst he has previously spent four years cycling around the world, for this trip he chose to walk instead. The opening author's note states that the trip's objective was 'to attempt to articulate my fascination with the open road and the magnetism of the next horizon (plus) strike a chord with anyone restless and yearning for a long journey'.

Whilst I am not 'restless and yearning for a long journey' I do get itchy feet and need to find a beach, a mountain or an exotic environment whenever and as often as possible (preferably requiring an air ticket). India, especially Mumbai, is a regular trip and I was not disappointed with the people, sights, sounds and smells depicted in this book. The real India is captured in many enchanting, descriptive passages which are poetic in their simplicity. This alone would give the book its recommendation.
For me Alistair Humphreys has also met his other objective as I now have a better understanding of what drives a person to become an 'explorer'.

This is an interesting book on many levels but for me is at its best when capturing the light and shade of India, which so many writers find it difficult to do.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 June 2012
This isn't your usual travel book. The author eschews a linear narrative in favour of an episodic approach while musing on the nature of such trips and the emotions they evoke in the traveller. Sometimes it's not even an episode, but just the recollection of a fleeting moment - like catching the eye of a person hurrying past and exchanging smiles - to illustrate an aspect of solo travel.

Whether you like this or not may well depend on whether you've ever done any such travelling yourself. Anyone who has ever backpacked in a developing country will recognise his descriptions of the boredom and discomfort, of being stared at and inundated with questions. But then there are the things that make it all worthwhile: joining in village cricket matches, an invitation to a Hindu temple, being caught up in a wild, unexplained celebration. And through it all, the generosity of the people, even when they are totally bemused by his plan to walk across India and never accept a lift.

I was hooked a few pages in after identifying with his three stages of flabbiness - descending from physical through mental to moral - and how getting on the road is one way of combating this. (Note to self: fix bike and get on road.) The only small niggle I have is that I would have liked attributions for the quotes that start each chapter. It's the first of his books that I've read (although I do follow him on Twitter and dip into his inpirational blog occasionally) but this will certainly encourage me to catch up with his back catalogue.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 July 2015
This book is incredible. I have read Alistair’s book about micro-adventures and enjoyed it so much I thought I would try another.

Alistair’s book enthralled me from the start. It is not a detailed narrative of the journey, it doesn’t contain tales of derring-do or high drama. Instead Alistair chose to write about the people he meets, his experiences, the food he eats, his daily routine, where he sleeps and the things he sees though an account of a single day.

He has an amazing way with words, his prose is so eloquent, it’s easy to see in one’s mind’s eye what he is describing, which are the people and parts of India that I was certainly unfamiliar with.

Alistair also reflects on the reasons behind himself and others deciding to embark on difficult journeys. I found it fascinating learning about what makes adventurers and what it is about them that is so different from us ordinary folk.

Also this has got to be one of the most beautiful, poetic books I have ever read. I loved the quotations at the beginning of each chapter, they are both thought provoking and awesome in their simplicity.

I absolutely loved the last sentence, it was brilliant and left me with a lump in my throat, a tear in my eye and a huge grin.

Having enjoyed this book so much I have now read Moods of Future Joys and have nearly finish its sequel “Thunder and Sunshine” and would recommend them too.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 26 February 2012
In a world of cliche-ridden "man/woman conquers the world" adventure accounts, Al's latest book stands out. There Are Other Rivers compresses his recent walk across India into a single day on the road, during which he explores different aspects of the travelling experience. It's a bold break with adventure writing convention which he pulls off with great success. Passionate and irresistible, this book is ultimately a rallying call to switch off the TV, set yourself an ambitious goal - whatever that may be - and make the most of every precious second of life. I can't think of a better way to spend a couple of hours and two pounds!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 17 January 2012
I must admit, despite being a fan of Alaistar's previous books and his excellent blog I was apprehensive with the way he described this book. I enjoyed the descriptions and sequential journal-esque style of his round the world books and was hoping for more of the same with There Are Other Rivers. He honestly admitted that the way he wanted to present this journey was unorthodox and was a risk. Thankfully it paid off in a way I really didn't expect. I absolutely loved the format and the style of subject chapters giving insights into his inner struggles and outward experiences day to day. I greatly related to alot of what he writes about - the duality of solo wanderlust versus the craving of companionship, the self imposed challenge versus the desire to be comfortable with normality. It is been really comforting to read the words of someone who deals with the day to day ruminating and destructive thought processes which can hinder progress yet find ways of breaking through, passing the crux and pushing towards the desired achievement. I recognise many of Alaistar's character traits within myself and find the personal and honest nature of the writing greatly insiring. A thorough recommendation to pick this up (then pass it on to a friend or donate to charity).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 August 2014
Right at the start of this book Alastair Humphreys lists three things this book is not about.
1. A book about India
2. A chronological account of a coast-to-coast walk across southern India
3. An epic adventure tale

This a very short book, about 100 pages, and it is none of the above-mentioned though elements of each of them do crop up in the narrative. It is easier to say what this book is not about than what it is about. I think it is about a journey into the mind of this adventurer who happens to be walking across India following the course of a river, coast to coast.

Anyone who has travelled alone, outside their comfort zone whatever that might be, will very quickly get in tune with the mind, musings and thoughts of this book. The question why? is confronted from different perspectives. The seeking out of a challenge for its own sake, physical and psychological striving, and the achievement of the End.

I was hooked from the I read the Author's Note referred to above and found it a thought-provoking read. It is a very personal insight into the mind of a solitary traveller and worthy of a second reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 June 2013
Once I got used to the unusual chronology (which didn't take long), this proved a fascinating insight into the murky world of motivation that lies behind superficially simple-sounding ideas such as walking alone across a country, but which are rarely explored with such candour. India itself is almost incidental to this thorough exploration of the author's inner life, though many vivid portraits of the country's rural goings-on are painted along the way. The book reads as if written primarily for cathartic purposes, absolutely from the heart; but such is that author's skill with words that the result is anything but a simple self-indulgence.

Not all will empathise fully with Humphreys' tendency towards masochism and extremes of physical exertion, and the cause of this seeming self-punishment is not quite uncovered, but this does not detract one bit from the feeling that all adventurous-sounding journeys have somehow been given an extra dimension by the story contained within this book.

I even found myself welling up at the end. That never happens.
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