The Shooting Star: A Girl, Her Backpack and the World by Shivya Nath
It is not easy to review books by authors you know well. I have known Shivya Nath since she started blogging. Have off and on followed her blog, traveled once with her and met her once over a long dinner discussion. I do have my opinions on her travel journey so far. I am very proud of her for having defined a niche for herself, for having chosen to travel the way she wants in a world that is full of many temptations & conditioning. And I know she has a long way to go. My biases are bound to creep into this review of the book The Shooting Star. Pardon me for that.
The first thing that came to my mind when I opened the courier carrying Shivya’s book was that I expected it to be much bigger or thicker book. She has a wealth of experiences and travel stories to share. Having said that I know this is just her first book, and I am sure many more will follow. I also understand that when you have already shared a lot of your stories on your blog or on social media, it is a challenge to pick some of them or to intersperse them with untold ones.
The book is all about Shivya Nath. There are people she talks about, primarily her hosts or guides in remote obscure locations. The stories are all about her personal growth from being a regular teenager to being a vegan digital nomad. It is about monologues in her head that include a whole lot of questions she hustled with. It is her personal journey that I would classify as memoirs.
She very skillfully covers the corners of the world she has traveled to, most of the time off the road and off the beaten path. She talks about her childhood growing up in Dehradun. Then She talks about her sense of freedom when she traveled to study and then work in Singapore. She talks about the lessons she learned or the insights that she got during her travels.
Her focus is always her own mind and its fears. Her most insightful moments are while drinking around the world with people who we would generally classify as strangers. From tribal women in Odisha to her hosts in Rann of Kutch, Central America everywhere she chooses to share the conversations she had over the local brew.
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All through her stories her courage and grit come across as her shining armor. I was surprised to learn that she was traveling with her partner when she really projected herself as a solo traveler. I do not think her stories are any less adventurous or inspiring regardless of whether she traveled solo or otherwise.
To me, personally, the most admirable & fascinating part of Shivya’s journey is about giving up a home and living as a nomad. It is not easy to let go of conditioning that we grow up with and she has done that very successfully. She talks elaborately about her experience and I remember having a conversation with her on what all does she carry in her backpack.
She makes her lifestyle seem quite effortless that only means that it comes very naturally to her. I can only image how much independence it must give her to know that there is nothing binding her to any place. So, any place is as much home as it is not. Having said that, I never discount the fact that in India, your parent’s home is as good as your own home.
I was kind of expecting Shivya’s book to hit the bookstores anytime. Even though I had no clue that she is working on one. It is interesting that she chose to call her debut book The Shooting Star, the same name as her travel blog. As a fellow blogger, I am happy that Shivya Nath has taken her writing to next level with her book.
I am sure her book and her story will inspire many young travelers just like her blog does.
Read this book The Shooting Star.
More Travel Books for you to read:
- Around India in 80 Trains by Monisha Rajesh
- The Masque of Africa by V S Naipaul
- City of Djinns A Year in Delhi by William Dalrymple
- The Penguin Book of Indian Journeys by Dom Moraes
- Highway 39 by Sudeep Chakravarti
- Travelling In, Travelling Out Ed by Namita Gokhale
- The Hippie Trail – A history by Sharif Gemie & Brian Ireland