When one of the best travel bloggers in India wrote her first book sharing her journey from a corporate cubicle life to a nomadic one, as her genuine follower, I had to pre-order the book. This is the book review of The Shooting Star by Shivya Nath.
I am talking about the famous Indian travel blogger, Shivya Nath, whose travel memoir, The Shooting Star (named after her blog, the-shooting-star.com) became #1 Best Seller in Travel Writing within a couple of days of its release.
Published by Penguin India and available both in paperback and kindle versions on Amazon and Flipkart, The Shooting Star is a riveting travelogue of a girl, her backpack and the world.
About Shivya Nath
Shivya Nath is a successful travel blogger from India. Reputed travel journals like BBC Travel, The Huffington Post, National Geographic Traveller India, Lonely Planet India, etc. have published her work.
Despite having huge unpaid student loan, she quit her corporate job with the Singapore Tourism Board in 2011 and started travelling the world; at the time she was 23 years old.
After travelling for two years, Shivya chose to became a nomad (in other words, homeless) in 2013; she gave up her apartment in Delhi; she sold most of her possessions and kept only basic minimum things that could fit into two backpacks.
Shivya chose a path less travelled without following the societal norms. By turning her passion into a successful career, she shunned every single voice that doubted her decisions.
About The Shooting Star
The book opens with a thrilling story of Shivya’s experience of getting healed (cleansed of negative energies) in Ecuador in a traditional ritual performed by a native Amazonian healer; such ritual involved drinking a native strong hallucinogenic Amazonian plant in the middle of the night in Amazon rainforest. And as you literally live that experience through Shivya’s writing, you know that you are in for a roller coaster ride.
In The Shooting Star, Shivya elaborates several incidents that she encountered while traveling; such incidents moved her deeply and compelled her to question her choices. For example – she became a vegan after her experience in a “chicken bus” (it is called “chicken bus” because the people are packed like chickens in cages) in Nicaragua.
The book is not only about Shivya’s travel experiences on the road, but a highly personal account of her entire journey, which serves as the soul of the book. She candidly shares about her family environment, relationships, career, internal and external battles and the reasons behind her unusual decisions.
Shivya has seamlessly weaved interesting short stories and anecdotes from her life that heavily influenced her decisions and changed the course of her life.
The stories take you around the world from Spiti in Himachal to Amazon rainforests in Ecuador; from tribes of Orissa to Mayan family in Guatemala; from meteor showers in the deserts of Gujarat to memorable sunsets in the beaches of Mauritius; from hiking alone in Ethiopia to bathing in secret waterfall in Jordan; all along learning essential lessons about the people and about herself.
Apart from her travel life, Shivya also shares her brief experience of her entrepreneurship journey when she founded India Untravelled, an organisation that provides authentic travel experiences across the country.
The chapters in The Shooting Star are not chronological; Shivya jumps timelines from one story/event to another. I would have preferred a chronological story-telling to get better insight into the logical evolution of the writer.
However, the good news is that the stories are not inter-connected; so you can actually start reading from anywhere.
One of my favourite quotes from The Shooting Star is –
“We tend to make big changes only when tragedy strikes. We tend to look for alternative paths only when we feel we’ve hit rock bottom. We tend to ask existential questions about happiness only when we are at our most miserable….But what about the tragedy of a mundane, average, unfulfilling life?”
As you journey along with Shivya, you will see how this simple girl-next-door transformed her life into an extraordinary tale; how a girl with confused state of mind transformed into a lady with conscious decisions!
In that sense, The Shooting Star is highly relatable to travellers and non-travellers alike; in fact, it is extremely relatable especially to any person from a middle-class family background with unusual dreams and passion.
The Shooting Star compels you to take a closer look at your life and reboot it based on what really matters to you. It compels you to take charge of your life and made conscious decisions, instead of simply following the norm. It compels you to be more courageous and live your life, instead of just existing.
In case you are not a reader or you don’t enjoy reading non-fiction, The Shooting Star is a great book to start.
On a scale of 1 to 5 stars, I would definitely give it 4.5 and recommend it to all.
The Shooting Star is a short, interesting, delightful and refreshing read. With just 200 pages, it is a light read which is heavy on content value. Once you start reading, I bet you can’t leave midway.
The Shooting Star is not a story of a girl who faced extraordinary circumstances; instead, it is a story of a girl who faced ordinary circumstances; it is only because of the difficult choices she made in those ordinary circumstances that made her life extraordinary.