The Shooting Star Book Review – It’s tough to call this a book review really. For one, I loved the book! Period. Two, I’ve never read travel memoirs before and I’m glad this was my first.
I’ve read a lot of novels, but never a travel memoir. My favorite novels tend to revolve around Dan Brown and Sidney Sheldon. Most of them being flimsy thrillers and mysteries. In fact, reading non-fiction was the last thing I’d expected to end up with this year.
But the story of Shivya Nath’s journey to being one of India’s biggest travel bloggers was pricking me.
I read some of her travel posts, made a check-up on the site (something I do when I find another blogger), and her story was nothing like most big travel blogs portrayed. There was brutal honesty about her travels.
And the book? That’s the beautiful part. I’ve seen successful bloggers publish books on travel guides, tips on budget travel, and the dreaded How to make money traveling. But never a memoir. And that was what she’d made: A Girl, Her Backpack and the World. Here goes the Shooting Star book review.
Coming about Writing the Shooting Star Book Review
I don’t remember the exact post I stumbled upon on Google, but the moment I did, I couldn’t help but read more on the blog. I took time and read through some articles, her story, and even looked up the Journeys section on her blog (I haven’t subscribed yet).
With my dream to become a full-time blogger one day, I suddenly yearned to read her story. But the About page on her blog wasn’t enough. After a week of dabbling with my thoughts, I decided to purchase the book – the Shooting Star
Why I wrote this review
Here’s something funny. I’m in no position to write this review considering my experience in either travel or writing. Not even close. Shivya Nath has been in traveling and writing for a decade while I started only a few years ago.
However, upon finishing the book, here’s why I had to write this:
- The Shooting Star isn’t just about Travel. It dwells deeper into the mind of its author on a vast range of topics. From a reader’s perspective, I believe any person, be it a travel enthusiast or not, would find it inspirational.
- Introspecting words the second time. Unfamiliar with tough vocabulary myself, I knew I’d to read this book another time to fully understand all of it. This book’s one of those stories where you’ll find it more fascinating every time you read it. So writing this review pushes me to give it another read.
The Shooting Star Book review – Reading from the Start
I’ve to say, the initial chapters were troublesome for me. Apart from the hard-to-get words, the way of writing with long sentences and many commas was something I wasn’t used to.
Even with a dictionary by my side, I had to sometimes reread sentences to understand. Also, the storyline isn’t in chronological order. We get to read glimpses of the writer’s life at different times. Sometimes the years skip ahead. And sometimes back.
So without the continuity after every chapter, it got tough to finish in one sitting. For me, it worked out best to read one chapter at a time. Every chapter had its own specialties and hurdles.
As I live on my University’s campus among lush greenery, reading this book outside among the trees was something that I’d look forward to every day.
Offbeat Places on the Book
This opened up a whole new part for me. Where one stops at a destination, believing it the end of their journey, that’s where this traveler begins to dig deep. She walks into the most remote parts of the world.
She drinks chocolate handed to her upon arrival by the cacao farmers of the Bribri tribe of Costa Rica and lives with a Mayan family by Lake Peten Itza in Guatemala, by which they’ve resided for centuries. While these travels seem worlds far away to me now as I write, they didn’t feel the same while reading.
With the elaboration of minute details and how similar these communities are when it comes to gossip and minds, the stories portray how we can relate to some deep down thoughts. The author relates her own perceptions to some of the most indigenous communities she comes across.
With her stories of the encounters, we don’t just understand more about them. We begin to question ourselves about our way of life and the things we value.
Speaking of questions, here are some parts I’d like to put on the Shooting Star book review that made me doubt my convictions.
The Shooting Star Book review – Doubting my Convictions
At one point, Shivya Nath lists most of her belongings for sale to stick to travel and free herself from the illusion of needing to hold onto the very people she knew and things she owned.
Liberation from our Belongings
I knew of the urge to liberate myself from the daily hustles, but not to live anywhere anymore was way beyond my imagination. Added to it, she opens up a whole perspective as a person living away from homes without walls or shelves.
That’s where I began introspecting my subconscious convictions. I never looked at my belongings as a burden – things that held me down. I still don’t. I have 4 guitars and I bought every one over the years with zeal.
But reading this perspective gave light to another way of looking at it. She ends the topic by saying that if people woke up one day woke up with nothing: Would they (people living in houses) feel reassured, too, that their things don’t own them?
Veganism – The Shooting Star Book Review
This is one of the most highlighted parts of Shivya Nath’s blog and the book. This chapter is named the Chicken Bus in this memoir. Being a non-vegetarian most of my life, I couldn’t help but think of animal cruelty and veganism for quite a while.
The chapter details how we might’ve changed the frequency of the menstrual cycle of hens by stealing their eggs, cows being impregnated through their lives to produce milk, and its calves often stay malnourished while their mother’s milk ends up in our cereal.
I never knew the difference between bulls and bullocks. But here’s it: Bulls, that have their balls crushed in order to be tamed and made to work in the fields, are called bullocks.
The Shooting Star Book review – Meeting Young Nuns
I found this part the most fascinating. It’s hard to choose which part I like most, but these are some of which I remember the most. The writer narrates her encounter with 4 young nuns around 11 years and 6 years of age in a Buddhist nunnery in Ladakh.
She narrates about each of their characters, lifestyles, and how they ended up in the nunnery. While it does seem bland here, but the part of these young girls was really something. The writer emotionally bonds with these girls. It’s a whole chapter about these young kids.
The writer pens down all aspects of their lives in the deserted mountain – the values of the nunnery, the hardships they face, the little gossips, and even about how they’ve grown as the writer makes a second visit to the nunnery years later.
Picturing the veranda and the gardens with snow-top mountains in the backdrop seemed something of another world (I hope I pictured it right!).
I planned on writing a book this year on my travel plans. So I decided to begin by at least reading one travel memoir. And purchasing the Shooting Star was absolutely worth it.
I was afraid it’d be a boring guidebook with too many ‘How to visit’ and “How much to spend” details. But it gladly wasn’t. This is a book I’d recommend to not just travel lovers, but to every person out there looking for inspiration.
Before I wrote this review, I decided to drop a message to the Shooting Star herself – Shivya on Instagram. And guess what? She actually replied! That was one good day right there.
The backstory to Buying this book
While I’ve halted my book writing as of now as I decided to travel more first. I still have too many wonders to visit. But of course, this pandemic has locked me away on my own campus for months now. And there’s no sign of me traveling in the near future.
But hey, I’m collecting revenue from this blog to buy a bicycle sometime later so that it can aid travels around Bangalore. That should be it.
That ends the Shooting Star Book review :)