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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 7 March 2013
Tom set off on an adventure with two mates from the Midlands and the possibly naive intention to mountain bike around the World rather than get a 'proper job'. What happened over the next 3 or 4 years was as much about self discovery as miles covered and places visited, and was far from what he had intended/envisioned.

I've followed Tom Allen's blog for the past year or two as he tried to turn 3 or 4 years of video footage and notes taken into a full length film and book. Despite the challenges of doing this independantly, he has managed to produce something wonderful. I love the film and still find it inspiring and funny after having seen it 3 or 4 times. But the book gives so much more. Even in the film, which is by definition limited to the footage that was taken, Tom manages to put across a very honest and personal account of his motivations. Of the joys and challenges of such a trip. Of loneliness and companionship. Of the humbling friendship of complete strangers. Of the difficulties in finding out that perhaps the plan you've been obsessing over isn't the only plan.

But in the book he is able to communicate this to a much greater degree. I've read books about cycle trips that are very much of the 'On day 97 we cycled from A to B covering 80 miles. I felt tired.' ilk. Janapar is not that book. It's about an adventure. It's about personal motivation and challenge. It's about seeking something more meaningful than the daily 9-5 that most people get sucked into. And it's about finding things you didn't expect in the places you least expected them.

Tom writes eloquently, honestly and with great self-awareness (after the event at least!). Janapar is a joy to read and will make you want to quit your job, pack a bag and cycle off on a voyage of discovery. That's what I'm going to do. Thanks Tom (I think!).
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on 1 April 2013
The book is an exceptionally well written tale that cleverly crosses back and forth across memorable parts of the authors life. The writing shows great personal insight into someone who clearly knows how to analyse his life, his surroundings, and his relationships. I purchased it because I cycle and like well written tales of travel, but this book is much more than that, any non-cyclist who likes a well written books will enjoy it just as much. Buy it. It's worth your time to read it. A good story that is very, very well penned.
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on 13 May 2013
Well written and insightful story. Tom's introspection bring into sharp focus the mental and physical challenges that are experienced when travelling long distances on a bicycle.
It hasn't dulled any appetite I have for attempting a similar adventure. Definitely worth reading.
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on 15 May 2015
Just finished this and it's great piece of travel writing. He captures his journey really well through the good times and the bad times that any real adventure has.

I read a lot of travel books and Tom writes really well. I was quite sad to finish the book.
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on 7 March 2013
As both a keen cyclist and someone who has spent many months on the road in lots of the countries Tom covered, this book seemed to speak directly to me.
I found myself nodding along with so many of the situations the author describes so eloquently and it made me pine for the open road once again.

Travel books can have a tendency to fall into the, "and then we went here, and then we went here..." trap but the multiple story-arcs going on during this trip ensures that you're always engaged and wondering what will come next.

The author also came across as refreshingly honest - from the initial highs and 'arrogance of ignorance' from the preparation and early days to the inevitable team squabbles and other low points.

If you're vaguely interested in travel or adventure then check out this very English kind of story but be warned: it'll probably make you want to quit your job and hit the road on two wheels!

Great job Tom!
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on 3 May 2013
I should state for reasons of candour that I am a friend of the writer, but should also say that in times past we have been very blunt with each other and wholeheartedly disagree on a wide variety of subjects. I do, therefore, feel that I can review this book with a certain degree of objectivity.
I finished it in less than a week, sometimes cursing slightly under my breath at Tom's habit of conjuring awkwardness from thin air. He sometimes comes across like a magician who keeps shoving the rabbit back in the hat because it's the wrong colour - everything goes well but it's not the sort of well he wanted. This dictatorial attitude to fortune, however, is whittled away, sliver by sliver, by circumstances, and the reader realizes that, just like the writer, what he thought he was getting himself into is nothing like what he will find himself coming out of.
That is the beauty of this book. Tom is nothing if not brutally honest, and never more so than with himself. His prejudices, lack of preparation and outbursts are all candidly dealt with, laying bare the vulnerable side of someone I thought I knew rather well, and this only makes the love-story narrative of the book that much more engaging. His ignorance of many of the places he visits might strike some as naïve, or even arrogant - particularly those who count themselves well-travelled, and say that they have "done" somewhere, who memorise long factoids plucked from a book, who quote what someone else said about the place and then agree with or destroy that opinion based on their own meagre experience - but Tom's unflinching lack of compromise with regard to his way of doing things is admirable, and wonderfully moving when you realize just how much the journey means to him, and how much it might mean to give it up.
This is no chuck-away, look-wot-I-did-Mum tale of a 1st Worlder finding himself, but an excellently crafted, beautifully written story of one man and his bike, and who they meet along the way. And while the book is of itself a very satisfying read, you are left in no doubt that Tom is not yet done with his journey.
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on 11 March 2013
There are millions of self help books... there are hundreds of cycling books... there are gazillions of love stories! There is one Janapar. Tom writes not only with beautiful language, but with a stark and brave honesty that made me feel like I had gone on the journey with him.
Finishing the last sentence in the book - I felt like I wanted to start it again. Filled with humour, life and inspiring observations this is a must read for anyone who wants to live their life.
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on 1 August 2014
I'd watched and enjoyed the film,but reading the book makes the film a whole lot better,ties up some loose ends,answers some questions,explains a lot more.brutally honest,sometimes sad sometimes joyous but never dull.does skip about a bit,but that in my opinion makes it a better read than a series of diary entries and mileage logs.
Buy it and the film,enjoy,and plan a bike tour,I have!
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on 27 April 2016
This is well written, but very jumbled up chronologically, which is very annoying. It jumps about all over the place from end, to middle, to beginning of the trip which is seriously tedious, unnecessary and difficult to follow. As a result important sections are missed out or in the wrong place. For example Tenny's reaction to the author leaving are only mentioned at the beginning of the book whilst he is in Sudan and not towards chapter 20 when he actually left her. Although this is an interesting tale, I found the author to be not very likeable and pretty selfish. He comes across as very naïve and callous regarding Tenny's parents culture and abandoning her at their home respectively. I was so appalled at his behaviour that I lost interest in the rest of his trip to Africa after that. He also misses out the whole of their European trip preceding their return to England and I notice that in the epilogue he has set off on his own again having seemingly not really commited or changed at all.
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on 15 June 2013
However many 'round the world' cycling books I read, no two are the same. This is a much more personal account of a fabulous journey that includes an unexpected encounter without the whole book being dominated by it. Carefully written with a very private portrayal of the author.
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