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The Global Soul

3.49  ·  Rating Details  ·  677 Ratings  ·  80 Reviews
Pico Iyer's book of essays about international locales contends that the modern world-scurrying citizen, pushed by business demands or political migrations, can easily lose both roots and sense of home. Airports have morphed into cities where scores of languages are spoken, thousands work, and millions travel through mazed villages of McDonalds, massage parlors, and self-h ...more
Published June 4th 2001 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published February 29th 2000)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,622)
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Mastin Todd
Jul 07, 2008 Mastin Todd rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nobody
Pico: While I understand your being overwhelmed at the rate at which things are moving in your life, I have one piece of advice: slow down. I felt anxious reading this and when I felt the need to pop a Xanax I realized that if his intent was to make the reader feel harried, he succeeded. If it was his intent for me to strangely be bored at the same time, he succeeded as well. Don't waste your time.
Jan 12, 2008 shannon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this a lot more than I did. For some reason, Pico Iyer's writing style makes me think he wants readers to feel sorry for him for not having an easily categorized identity. And I don't feel sorry for him, so it is annoying. He does have some interesting observations about the world but I can't get past his tone to fully appreciate them.
Dec 28, 2011 Oceana2602 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: german, male-writers, 2011
Well, this sucked.

I had never heard of Pico Iyer until I joined a group here on goodreads that talks about travel literature. I love travel literature (at least I think I do. Maybe I just love Paul Theroux and Mark Twain.) I got the impression that Iyer was one of THE travel authors to read, and immediately put him on my ebay watch-list. A few weeks later, this book was what I was able to acquire(and good thing I bought it for Euro on ebay, too, because it certainly wasn't worth more!)

I wish I c
Mar 12, 2012 Jessica rated it did not like it
Pico Iyer is known as a travel writer, but this book reads closer to an autobiographical dissection of his identity crisis. Iyer writes about a difficult topic, the modern migrant’s search for a sense of belonging. If you have parents from different cultures, multiple passports and/or nationalities and no right to vote in any country in the world, you might find this book intriguing.

As a third culture kid myself, I found I could relate to Iyer’s observations on many levels. The modern migrant’s
look, this book made me dizzy and pico's insistence on how freaking global he is really began to grate after about ten pages. good for you bro, you're a global soul! but hey maybe so are the rest of us? and his writing style -- i get what he's trying to do, but after about two pages, it's unnecessary to keep cataloging who/what everyone is, where they are from etc etc. i think that kind of overshadows/whelms his point about the global soul or whatever -- if you are truly a global soul, man would ...more
Kate Brennan
Easy to read, but can be boring and annoying at times.

It can also be a discomfiting read for someone (like myself) who has undertaken intensive academic study of phenomena like globalization, transnational networks and communities, diaspora, and so on.

But this might be a good text to read with undergraduates or young students interested in learning more about globalization--the strength of the teaching utilizing the weaknesses of Iyer's problem- and contradiction-filled text. An extra challenge
Apr 10, 2016 Heather rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
(2 stars as in, "it was OK," but if I could rate the essays/chapters separately, I'd give the last one 4 stars and a few of the others 3 stars)

This was a slow read for me, and mostly not because I was savoring it. I don't know, maybe I wasn't in the right mood, or maybe this just isn't the book for me: maybe I wanted a travel book more than I wanted a book about globalization and multiculturalism, or maybe the ways things have changed since this book was written/published (it came out in 2000) m
Sally Boyer
The book came out in 2000 and it's embarrassingly obvious. I love Pico Iyer, but, aside from the first chapter, "The Burning House" (tale of how his California house burnt to the ground) and the last one, "The Alien Home" (reflections on the author's Nara, Japan), I don't recommend this read. Each of the sandwiched chapters feel very dated and unless you specifically want to read about LAX, Hong Kong, Toronto, the Olympics, or Cambridge during the late 1990's, it's irrelevant.

I marked a few good
Not a whole lot of joy in this book. Basically seven long - sometimes rambling - essays dealing with the meaning of multiculturalism, (inter)nationalism, globalization, etc.

Generally speaking, I found this one pretty dull. It's Iyer musing, for 300 pages - where is home? where am I from? why do I look Indian and not speak the language? etc, etc. Particularly the first half seems to be a collection of observations of "culture clash" (for lack of a better term): Chinese girls working in Mexican r
Apr 29, 2015 David rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very disappointing, reads like a cross between one of those anecdotal management books, celebrity name-dropping and a reality show about living in airports; full of punk statistics and dubious stereotypes. Not a travel book, more of a hangover.
Josh Fish
Jun 20, 2012 Josh Fish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is insightful as the author himself leads such a multicultural life. He is a British born Indian who grew up in America and lives in Japan. He talks about airport culture (or meta-culture) and cross cultural relationships. The prose is manic exposition almost all of the way through but Iyer has so many facts at his fingertips I never felt like I was living solely inside his head. I still have my questions, such as how most of the world can't live like him (flying from country to countr ...more
Mar 08, 2011 Alex rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Iyer is one of the great travel writers, and I give this 2 stars only in comparison with what I know he is capable of. He has a promising start, discussing the notion of a global soul: a uniquely modern human created by advances in technology and breaking down of borders and colonialism. But he seems to lose sight of his iniitial premise, and rambles on about Toronto, the Olympics, England and its colonies, and Japan. Some good parts, but overall he gets lost in the absractionism and shades of g ...more
Troy Parfitt
People say that Video Night in Kathmandu is good. I wouldn't say this one was. As a Canadian, I found his assessment of Toronto to be rather ungrounded. He seems to think it's a kind of multicultural utopia, and although Canadians heap a lot of undue scorn on the place, it has a lot of social problems: a rich-poor disparity for one, guns for another. This was my first attempt at Pico Iyer; I just didn't get it, but perhaps I should try again.
Bharath Ramakrishnan
This is a book about people who travel across countries with little or no connections to their or their parents homeland. Pico Iyer refers to such people including himself as global souls. However, as the book moves along describing his travels to US, UK and Japan, the narrative has no purpose. The treatment is superficial and it is rather a description of no soul with the search for one.

Travels across countries should rather prompt a deeper understanding and ability to contrast cultures. Rather
Rajiv Chopra
Jun 12, 2016 Rajiv Chopra rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I have been a global soul. I have lived in India for most of my life, in England as a child, and then in China and Singapore.
I worked in China and Singapore, and travelled many countries, saw many malls and airports. The emptiness of this life got to me, and I quit despite being at the top.

The book, like the global soul, is essentially empty. While he writes well, it seems to be a slapdash of bits of writing and anecdotes piled together. There was a super opportunity to go deep and really talk
Mar 27, 2008 Daryl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great observations offer insights into contemporary globalism. Iyer is at his best when showing the peculiarities of life in our current times.
Duncan Bay
Dancing between 3 & 4 stars. Some of the sections dragged for me, but others rejuvenated my interest. His prose remains formidable and intriguing, and particularly lucid considering I read most of this in transit to Japan for the fourth time / attempting to survive my jetlag from said transit wandering around at 5am for several nights. This was my first foray into Iyer's travel essays (who apparently is an influence/appreciate of one of my favoured travel writers Rolf Potts). I suspect Sun A ...more
Phannette Nguyen
Jan 22, 2016 Phannette Nguyen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This will likely to be an unfinished review because as with many thought-provoking books that I’ve come across, there are reflections and observations that the author writes about that I was not able to truly comprehend, probably because I’m still young and haven’t traveled far and long enough to accumulate enough life experiences. But I will try my best to sum up my thoughts on this book, nevertheless.
First off, I will say that this is not an easy book to read. I think the pace of this book ref
Artur Coelho
Confesso que sempre que pego num livro de Iyer fico com um misto de admiração e inveja. Viajante consumado, deambulador poético pelos recantos do mundo, Iyer é um desenraízado que encontra as suas casas algures pelo mundo. É um consumado escritor de viagens, mas não esperem dele guias turísticos para as atracções do exotismo ou pormenores peripatéticos dos estranhos costumes das populações dos trópicos, das estepes ou das grandes metrópoles. Não deixa de ir olhando para estes detalhes, mas não s ...more
Perry Whitford
Pico Iyer is an Indian with an Italian sounding name (which he says is often taken for a female name, and I admit I thought this was by a female when I bought it), raised and educated in England, mostly a resident of America and Japan as an adult, whose job as journalist has him constantly criss-crossing the globe.

That background and resume certainly make him well equipped to investigate the increasing phenomena of rootlessness amongst so many of the world's citizens, and to provide some pointe
Aug 26, 2013 S. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
mega-super genius Pico Iyer, Eton, Harvard, Oxford at age 29 puts out Video Night in Katmandu, as its title suggests, a wryly humorous look at incongruities and abstractions-playing-out in odd corners of the world, and confirms his already existing reputation as an essayist, a solid 4 or 5 star book that is name-dropped among the literati (GR reports 1250 reads, which makes Iyer a medium-ranked essayist). 1991 (age 32) brings out a Japan study that focuses on the sweetness of the culture rather ...more
Abhay Kumar
Oct 19, 2013 Abhay Kumar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating account of what is increasingly a reality in the modern age. Some highlights:

"Perhaps science and industry... will unite the world, i mean condense it into a single unit, though one in which peace is the last thing that will find a home" Wittgenstein in 1946

"The man who finds his homeland sweet is still a tender beginner; he to whom every soil is as his native one is already strong; but he is perfect to whom the entire world is as a foreign land"

"The essential questions America ask
Apr 14, 2016 Julia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-my-phd
Most commentary is about how global all local places seem to be. Iyer notices aspects of many cultures present in all the places he goes. He examines places that are naturally global, at the airport, the marketplace, multiculturalism, Olympic games, the British Empire and Japan where he lives now. He himself feels global, as he grew up an Indian in the UK and California and now lives in Japan. His book is more about how various cultures have spread out around the globe, rather than how people id ...more
Bryan Lee
Jan 18, 2012 Bryan Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the introduction to an anthology of travel writing for 2008, Anthony Bourdain, probably known more as a writer about food & travel than as a chef, mentioned Pico Iyer in a list of travel writers that really know their craft. Iyer writes about travel and what changes in travel's ease and speed have on passenger after s/he walks off the passenger gangway. He focuses on how humans, now newly able to cross natural barriers of timezone, culture, and distance, have altered their perceptions of ...more
Sep 11, 2008 Powersamurai rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan-related
I myself am a Global Soul like Iyer. Of one heritage, born in a different country and living in a totally different one. Hence, I can relate to much of what he has to say. How did I find this? Well, Iyer wrote the Introduction to the new edition of The Inland Sea. That piqued my interest in him, but didn't search any further until February this year when raiding Blue Parrot Books with my biblioholic mate, Gaijinmama, where I found this 2nd-hand copy signed in April 2007 by the man himself to Ton ...more
Judit Szabo
Aug 22, 2013 Judit Szabo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An interesting, pensive book about being constantly on the move, and the individual's place in a world that's getting smaller and smaller every day. Some chapters tackle hands-on topics like the Olympic games, others are more abstract, but the general idea is finding your identity somewhere other than the place you were born.

This is not a book you'll flick through in a weekend - it's best enjoyed at a peaceful, quiet time, when one can dedicate undivided attention to reading. I really enjoyed Pi
Isla McKetta
Jun 23, 2013 Isla McKetta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Is globalization and the increasing speed of our connections changing the nature of who we are as people? Iyer looks at examples including the life of a global businessman stopping over in Hong Kong, the intersections of lives at LAX, and what the Olympics say about multinationality.

The experiences are all personal, and I got the sense as I read it that Iyer was really looking to explore what it means to be home. The book encouraged me to look at my global soul and how living abroad has shaped
Sep 29, 2013 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is fascinating, especially because I've been obsessed with stories of journeys/migration/acculturation and multiple identities lately. Pico Iyer (an Indian, with an Italian name, British educated, lives in America and Japan) talks about the ways in which the world is becoming more globalized, the ways in which we are increasingly more connected to each other. He talks about the Olympics, LAX, Toronto, immigrants, England, and other things... Except for the chapter on Toronto, it was sometim ...more
Alexander R.
This book spoke to me, as they say. But then it spoke to me again and again. I get it, man! Tediously repetitious. This book could have been half its length.

Still, I dont wish to overwhelm this review with angry spirit as most of the time I was reading The Global Soul, I truly was interested and at times, fascinated. A neat wandering dissection of our increasingly global mixing pot - or perhaps that is not the best metaphor in the case of some cities? as he points out at one point.

In any case,
Jul 21, 2015 Juleslv rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was terrible. The only satisfying thing about it was when I threw it across the room and then it landed in my trashcan.
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Pico Iyer is a British-born essayist and novelist of Indian descent. As an acclaimed travel writer, he began his career documenting a neglected aspect of travel -- the sometimes surreal disconnect between local tradition and imported global pop culture. Since then, he has written ten books, exploring also the cultural consequences of isolation, whether writing about the exiled spiritual leaders of ...more
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“I exult in the fact I can see everywhere with a flexible eye; the very notion of home is foreign to me, as the state of foreignness is the closest thing I know to home.” 6 likes
“One curiosity of being a foreigner everywhere is that one finds oneself discerning Edens where the locals see only Purgatory.” 6 likes
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