Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Book Review: There Are Other Rivers

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Alastair Humphreys. The British adventurer has ridden his bike around the world, rowed the Atlantic and trekked across Iceland. Soon he'll even take on a 1000-mile crossing of the Empty Quarter. I even love how he champions the concept of micro-adventures as a way to put adventure into our daily lives. Alastair's spirit and enthusiasm are an inspiration to us all and I have a deep appreciation for how he lives his life. But after reading his latest book, There Are Other Rivers, my admiration for the man has grown even deeper. For this book takes everything we've already known about him and then gives us even more depth and insight. 

In 2009, Alastair walked coast-to-coast across India, following the River Kaveri along the way. His journey would cover more than 500 miles through one of the most interesting and culturally unique countries in the world. But if you buy this book expecting a travelogue of Humphrey's adventures in the sub-continent you'll be sorely disappointed. Instead, this book is a mediation on adventure and a day on the road like no other. 

There Are Other Rivers is Alastair's attempt to convey what it is like to be off on a true expedition without glossing over any of the details – either good or bad. The book conveys the wonder of travel through the mundane, boiling down the experience to a single day of endless walking, interactions with others and the thoughts that go through our heads when we have too much time alone. As Al himself says, those days are "the happiest days of my life. Any day, any journey."
That is this book in a nutshell and quite frankly it is brilliant. Alastair will inspire you with his words and the pages will fly by as you consume every syllable. This book isn't a particularly long one, just a couple of hundred pages, with some colorful images intermixed. But it reads like it is half that length and I found myself knocking off multiple chapters in rapid succession. And when I was finished, the book was over far too quickly, and I found myself wanting to start it completely over again.

This is a book that isn't just for the seasoned adventurer – armchair or otherwise – who enjoys a good travel yarn. This is a story that will inspire those who have always wished they could enjoy an a rousing journey of their own, but just needed a little inspiration to send them out the door and down the road. Alastair's enthusiasm is infectious and his love for adventure in all of its forms shines through here, and if you don't feel inspired to start planning an excursion of your own, we probably should check you for a pulse. 

I read the electronic version of There Are Other Rivers, which is available for the Kindle and iPad in the iBook Store. Al has physical copies of the book for order on his website too and each version is a real bargain. The e-book runs just $2.99, while the regular edition costs $7.75. Either version makes a great gift, so grab a copy for yourself and your favorite adventurer or traveler in your life. You won't regret it. 


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