shantaram – add to your holiday reading list

Going on holiday mumbai airport taxi in indiaWe had to include this book in our holiday reading list, as it’s one of the most frequently recommended by Intrepid travellers. And Lisa Connor is amongst those who give it the big thumbs up…

“My most favorite book ever is Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts. He was a heroin user and bank robber in the 1970s, escaped from an Australian prison and then went to Mumbai, India. This book is the story of his life there, from living in the slums, adventures with the Mafia, overland travel and more.

It has passion, romance, adventure, and philosophy! You will want to buy this book, as I underlined so many revelations from his life journeys. And it is 900 pages, so it continues. His description of India is so vivid you can almost smell the Mumbai streets. I have probably given at least 20 copies of this book as presents, so it comes highly recommended.”

You can check out other recommendations from Intrepid Express readers by clicking on the ‘books for your backpack’ travel theme in this blog.

If a book has inspired you to go on holiday or simply makes for great reading while on the road, please email – let us know a little of what it’s about plus an indication of the size, as we would love to hear your recommendation for a great backpack book to read on holiday!

To find out more about going on holiday to India with Intrepid and for your chance to WIN a trip in every edition, subscribe to Intrepid Express, our free e-newsletter. Plus you can become a fan of our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter!

* photo by Rhonda Ward – Intrepid Photography Competition

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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This is Lyn again (same Lyn as previously). Speaking of India, I have not yet been, but hope to go one day. I do like to read Indian authors, though, and a couple of my favourite books are “The Romantics” by Pankaj Mishra and “The Alchemy of Desire” by Tarun J Tejpal.'

Odious, puffed-up, self-serving clap trap – Shantaram that is. The first part – the description of Bombay (as was) in the 1980s – is great so perhaps just read that bit. If you want to read about Mumbai gansters I recommend Sacred Games by Vikram Seth.'

I publish a blog all about in India – Breathedreamgo,com – and I have been reading books about India, by Indians, and by foreigners in India, for many years. I’ve read a lot of books … and Shantaram is one of my least favourites. I found it long-winded, poorly written, melodramatic and lurid — it’s a big blast of ego-driven wind from a criminal. I honestly don’t get the attraction. There are MUCH MUCH better books. Try Empire of the Soul by Paul William Roberts or City of Djinns by William Dalrymple. You may change your mind when you read one of these stunning books that offer genuine insight into Indian culture.'

I have to agree with Lyn- put your money somewhere else! I got this book in Mumbai and read it while traveling through India, and mostly I was impressed with how conceited and arrogant the author was. It is definitely a fictionalized account of his life and he never claims it is non-fiction. You can check out several websites that debunk many of his stories. It’s a page-turner, true. It was passed through my entire Interpid travel group on the long train ride to Delhi. But we called it Shi&&yram and read it aloud as a laugh because the author is such a jerk!'

My partner was raving about this book, but I think it is poorly written and the author is a total wanker. I was India in 1980 for a year, and criminal types like Gregory whoever, with their over-inflated egos, were a paise a dozen in that period, both in India, here in Australia, and in NZ, where I was born. They are a product of their times and I certainly wouldn’t be subsidising the jerk’s lifestyle by purchasing this book, even if he thinks he has redeemed himself by working for the poor.'

You need to read the book, Lyn. He paid the price for his crimes and became a better man. It is a wonderful book and shouldn’t be missed.'

I have purposely boycotted “Shantaram”, as I do not believe in supporting a bank robber. People would do better to give money to charity rather than support this person by buying his book.

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