Book Review: There Are Other Rivers
A footloose adventurer finds India's everyday beauty, explores the allure of the open road
I've long been a fan of British adventurer Alastair Humphreys. He's ridden his bike around the world, rowed the Atlantic and trekked across Iceland. Soon he'll even take on a 1,000-mile crossing of the Empty Quarter. Beyond the big trips, 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, 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. This book takes everything we've already known about him and then gives us 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 meditation on adventure and a day on the road like no other.
There Are Other Rivers is Alastair's attempt to convey what it's like to be off on a true expedition without glossing over any of the details—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're alone for too much time. 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's brilliant. Alastair will inspire you with his words and the pages will fly by as you consume every syllable. This book isn't particularly long—just a couple hundred pages, with some colorful images intermixed. But it reads like it's half that length, and I found myself knocking off multiple chapters in rapid succession. The book was over far too quickly, and I found myself wanting to start it over again.
This book isn't just for the seasoned adventurer—armchair or otherwise—who enjoys a good travel yarn. It will also inspire anyone who's always wished they could enjoy an arousing journey of their own, but just needed a little inspiration to push them out the door and down the road. Alastair's enthusiasm is infectious and his love for adventure in all its forms shines through here In fact, if you're not inspired to start planning your own 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 Kindle and iPad for just $2.99. Al has physical copies of the book for order on his website for $7.75. Either version makes a great gift, so grab a copy for yourself and your favorite adventurer or traveler. You won't regret it.
There Are Other Rivers
By Alastair Humphreys
This review first appeared on The Adventure Blog.