Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Read back in February 2017, I came across my Goodreads review of Shantaram and decided I liked it enough to post it on my blog. Two and a half years after finishing it, I was right, I’ll never forget this book.

A 4 star read, with many 5 star elements

I have so many thoughts whirling around my head about this book. I had to sleep on it before writing my review because, on finishing it yesterday I couldn’t write the jumble of emotions down in a way that could be understood!

I’m still struggling to piece together how I’m going to review this without writing what hundreds of other readers already have. And give it the justice it deserves for its brilliance. 

It educated me, it filled me with awe, it lifted me up and plonked me down in Bombay, with a ‘there you are, take this little lot on board’. Sometimes, it was just too much, too many characters, too much information, some of which I had little or no interest in. (Eg: I care nowt about weapons and war logistics, which, in parts, I had to skim read as this book was sooo long!) 

Had Shantaram been 200 pages shorter, I probably would of awarded it full marks, but it was long, way too long. Bits could of been 
omitted without any adverse effect on the storyline.

That said, Gregory David Roberts has written a masterpiece. I’ve experienced India in such a unique way, the beauty, the dark underworld, the passion of its people, and thankfully, all in the safety of pages of a book! 

I would probably of never chosen this to read, but I was recommended it by a friend, who then lent it to me and urged me to read it. I could see how passionate he was about this book, and I have my own book loves that fill me with ‘hey, you have to read this’ moments. So I simply couldn’t and wouldn’t refuse! 

I enjoy the challenge of a big fat book, and the challenge of reading about something I know little or nothing about. And above all, I love the satisfaction of having completed a book of such epic proportions. 

I’m rambling a bit now, so I’ll round this review up with one sentence:

Shantaram, I will never forget you.

The Green Unknown : Travels in the Khasi Hills by Patrick Rogers

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Synopsis from Goodreads

The Green Unknown is about walking, without a map or a plan, across the Khasi Hills in the Northeast Indian state of Meghalaya—a place of jungle canyons and thousand-foot waterfalls, where it rains more than any other inhabited place in the world, where each village has its own dialect or even its own language, and where the people grow living bridges from the roots of trees. The book is an attempt to express what it’s like trying to explore, mile by mile, village by village, valley by valley, a place that’s beautiful, complex, and fascinating, but most of all, unique.

Review

Firstly, thank you to the author, Patrick Rogers, for sending me a copy of his book to review.

I read this in two sittings, although there was a gap of a couple of weeks between starting and finishing due to that thing called Christmas.

This is an interesting and entertaining read about the authors travels to far flung corners of the earth. I enjoy TV documentaries of this kind, so I knew I’d enjoy reading about places that possibly many people know little or nothing about.

It is written with humour and a light-hearted approach so it was easy to follow and having the break at 43% for a few weeks didn’t have a negative impact on the flow.

What I enjoyed the most was hearing about the natural world Northeast India has, the indigenous people that have settled there, and the fact that they have mobile phones! What?!! Does that mean that the eye-sores that are phone masts are popping up in the most heavenly of places? I know folk need technology wherever they are these days, but this really surprised me!

I was fascinated by the living bridges made from the roots of trees, and the sheer beauty of this place. India is on my bucket list of countries to visit, and Rogers has introduced me to places I definitely won’t be brave enough to explore. Off the beaten track is an understatement, and without a map or plan, he certainly is a traveller with guts.

I did struggle to pronounce many of the place names, and even referred to a detailed map on Google to get a sense of where he actually was. Overall, a very interesting and educational account with stunning photographs accompanying the journey throughout. This makes Bill Bryson’s ‘A Walk in the Woods’ sound like a Walk in the Park!

Patrick has a blog all about his adventures which accompanies his book, you can go take a look here.