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Pico Iyer
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Falling Off the Map: Some Lonely Places of the World

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  1,348 Ratings  ·  105 Reviews
Traveler Iyer takes in places that the rest of us would make a point of avoiding. Here the author of Video Night in Kathmandu extends an invitation to join him in a poignant look at some of the "lonely places" of the world.
Hardcover, 190 pages
Published April 19th 1993 by Knopf (first published 1993)
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Aug 27, 2016 Jessica rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I can'ttttt anymore, I'm gonna die of boredom. I was so looking forward to reading this book, but it is SO BLAH! I was expecting more of a travelogue style of writing, not a completely stand-offish overview. The author didn't really get into experiencing these cultures, it seemed. He gave a sentence here and there exchanged with a local at a restaurant or bar, but that was about the extent of it. I just couldn't trudge through the rest. I thought about maybe adding this back to my to-read for la ...more
Jun 14, 2016 Arvind rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travelogue
I wouldnt have picked up Iyer again after reading his 'Video Night in Kathmandu', but was drawn by a friend's reco and d super-selection of places - North Korea, Argentina, Cuba, Iceland, Bhutan, Paraguay. Also Vietnam and Australia but have read a bit about them especially the latter bcoz of cricketing articles too.
The writing isnt bad, it just lacks conversations and 'joy of idleness' as Theroux put it. Each place starts off well and there r some superb observations, but then gets into a rut.
May 23, 2009 Katie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel-general
That Pico Iyer - how is possible to be so erudite and entertaining as he is? What a great idea, to group a bunch of places as disparate as Iceland and Australia together and reveal their commonality as Lonely Places - not so much places where people might be lonely as places that have "fallen off the map", or fallen out of time - Cuba is a particularly good example of this being once or twice or thrice removed from the Westernized, globalized, relentlessly forward-looking mainstream way of life ...more
Sairam Krishnan
Apr 27, 2016 Sairam Krishnan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lovely collection of Pico Iyer's travel pieces for various magazines, brought together under a theme that is intriguing, and immensely relatable. Pico Iyer's introductory essay to the book is extraordinary writing, and I will come back to it again and again. The essays themselves are mixed things, a couple of them I loved, a couple did nothing for me, and another was just about okay reading. In all of them, however, Iyer's remarkable command of the travel writer's idiom shines through. You may ...more
Nov 18, 2011 Peter rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
An interesting idea for a group of travel essays, include countries that are isolated either by geography, by politics, or socially. Somewhat dated in that I'm sure that some of the countries included are very different now than they were in the early 90's, such as Argentina and Paraguay.

There's some funny bits, but the problem I have with the book is that Iyer writes like a well trained journalist. Meaning that he doesn't get involved with anyone, there's very little interaction with the local
Christine Zibas
"Lonely places are not just isolated places, for loneliness is a state of mind.... Loneliness cuts in both directions, and there are 101 kinds of solitude."

For Pico Iyer, the countries he examines in this book vary widely in their solitude. In some cases, it's geography (like Australia); in others (such as North Korea), it's a political decision. Hence, the 101 kinds of solitude.

The unfortunate thing about this book is that it was written in 1993, and with any travel book from that time, some th
Manu Prasad
Jun 16, 2016 Manu Prasad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review
The timestamp for the first chapter is 1990. I imagine myself then, 26 years ago, cognizant of the places being referred to in the book only thanks to an atlas, and a penchant for remembering country-capital-currency courtesy school quizzes. Just text in the head, with no images to go along, in a world before the internet.
What then, are these lonely places? From Iceland up there to Australia down south and from North Korea to the right and Paraguay to the left (ideologically, just the opposite!
Dec 28, 2013 Cheryl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating look at many different remote places that exist within the increasingly connected world. The most fascinating thing, I found, was that even though it has been about 15 years since these pieces were written, most of it is still pretty accurate. The author's visits included Bhutan, Iceland, North Korea, Paraguay, Vietnam and Australia. I think that Vietnam may be more modern now than described, with more connection to the world, but I don't know that the other places have changed. Au ...more
Rajat Ubhaykar
Mar 24, 2016 Rajat Ubhaykar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, cuba
A slightly dated book in which Pico Iyer travels to the Lonely Places of our alarmingly interconnected planet: Iceland, North Korea, Bhutan, Cuba, Paraguay, Argentina, Australia, Vietnam. I like Iyer's non-judgmental attitude towards travel writing, unlike the cantankerous Paul Theroux who can easily get on your nerves. Iyer writes about these strange lands with trademark eloquence and erudition, managing to both entertain and educate the reader in equal measure. Recommended!
Marie Angell
Apr 07, 2013 Marie Angell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pico Iyer is an oustanding travel writer. Or I should say, writer. He has an insight, a way of really drinking in a place, that makes me feel I'm there.

This book is a particularly timely read in a weird way. He writes about places that are isolated or undervisited in the mid-1990's, including Cuba and North Korea. Most of these countries are still off the beaten path, for one reason or another, yet still quite in the news today.

North Korea in particular gives unexpected insight into the current
Sep 06, 2015 Hildur rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
A fun and entertaining view on some of the more unique places on Earth. A bit outdated now of course, but still an interesting look at the atmosphere in a few remote areas 25 years ago, including Iceland. Surprisingly I quite liked his account of my home country, I think he pretty much nailed it. Again, some of the information is outdated, but I feel that he quite captures the spirit of Iceland and Icelanders in a way that I could not have done myself. Besides from Iceland I enjoyed the chapters ...more
Stephen Heiner
Aug 09, 2016 Stephen Heiner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
This book was first released in 1993 and was written about the "lonely places of the world," which in Ayer's estimation included North Korea, Argentina, Cuba, Iceland, Bhutan, Vietnam, Paraguay, and Australia. Obviously globalization and simply the passage of time have made some of these places less "lonely" than in the 1990s, but much of what made them so in Pico's mind still persists.

"Lonely places are the places that don't fit in; the places that have no seat at our international dinner table
Jan 30, 2015 Rj rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just finished reading Pico Iyer's Falling off the Map: Some Lonely Places of the World (New York: A. A. Knopf, 1993). The book is a collection of Iyer's travel writing about places around the world that he classifies as odd and lonely. I have been a big fan of Iyer's writing and his approach to travel writing ever since discovering his Video Night in Kathmandu: And Other Reports from the Not-so-Far-East prior to a trip to China. A British-born writer of Indian descent, currently living in Japa ...more
Jul 19, 2016 Zeke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Lonely places are not just isolated places, for loneliness is a state of mind.... Loneliness cuts in both directions, and there are 101 kinds of solitude."

After being inundated for years by his quotes (stereotypically used to caption images on social media), I finally got the chance to get a copy of his books.

In this one, he gathers several essays about places as disparate as Iceland and Argentina - all the essays being about places which are isolated and lonely.

Well, after going through his b
This is the first travelogue that I read, and I'm infinitely grateful to my friend who lent me the book. In this, as in his other books, Iyer's prose is beautiful, his observation keen, but most of all he writes with compassion (not sentiment) and fondness about the places and people he meets, drawing you in, and making you wish that you were in Reykjavik instead of wherever it is you are.
Nancy Lewis
I love to discover the unusual & this book is full of it. Before reading this book, I wanted to travel to every place that I haven't been, with some places higher on the priority list than others. After reading this book, Iceland has moved up a few notches in the ranking.
Nimish Sawant
Jan 02, 2015 Nimish Sawant rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best things about this book, apart from Pico Iyer's exquisite descriptions, is the political context given behind every region. Be it the dictatorship of the Kim family in Hermit Kingdom North Korea or the bloody history of Paraguay and Vietnam or even the unrealistic expectations of the Argentine people in the midst of an economic crises. Sure the book was written in the early 90s and situations may have improved in these regions. But for a travel enthusiast, the contexts are what ma ...more
Jan 17, 2014 Chitra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed reading this book for multiple reasons - his style, his choice of countries, the theme, his observations. Pretty much everything I read in the book was something new to me. It wasnt as much an easy read as I had expected, not only because of all the new info, but also because of the theme itself - firstly, the book is a couple of decades old and so is dated, and secondly the book deals with places that are so not in the mainstream, that seem so lost and so off from everything and every ...more
Jun 02, 2016 Alison rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I knew this book would be full of dated information. The copyright states 1994, but I am disappointed in how much the world seems to have changed in twenty-odd years. The only place I have visited in the list of essays is Iceland, and it seems as though the country has gone through a complete transformation since Iyer stepped foot in it. Or at least wrote about it.
I've read several of Iyer's works now, and I did feel like this was a good companion for travelers in the 1990s. A little dry at tim
Jan 20, 2016 May rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
The premise of the books is actually quite good. The idea that some places are quite remote and are therefore lonely relative to the connectivity that other places have to each other as a globalizing world makes distances shorter. The author has a clear point of view and background as he describes and visits all places unknown.

The book, for me, lacked heart relative to other travel books that might be more trans-formative or gushing with the mind opening heart expanding experiences one has when
Minu Mathew
This is the first book that I am reading penned by Pico Iyer. The idea that it is a travel book is what attracted me to the book. Each chapter is a short excerpt of various countries he has visited and he categorises them as lonely places and justifies it too. I found the writing interesting if I knew a little something about the country prior like Bhutan, Korea, Vietnam and Australia whereas I found it boring to read the other chapters. The observations which translates to writing is the most i ...more
Jun 30, 2015 May rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having taken a growingly serious interest in travel writing, and having wanted to read Pico Iyer ever since I came across this quote, "Kindness is water, religion is like tea. You can survive without tea, you can't survive without water," I decided to pick up Falling Off the Map: Some Lonely Places of the World two days ago.

In six eloquently crafted essays, Iyer introduces us to six different places, each fascinating and lonely in its own right.

What makes a lonely place? According to Iyer, lonel
Artur Coelho
Feb 12, 2012 Artur Coelho rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Espaços solitários não são necessariamente espaços isolados de solidão, recantos do planeta longe de tudo e de todos. Pico Iyer relata nesta obra viagens a locais onde a história, a economia ou imperativos sociais e culturais contribuíram para uma certa ideia de isolamento, de estranheza face à cada vez mais homogénea aldeia global. Visitando o isolamento político da Coreia do Norte e de Cuba, o ostracismo de legalidade duvidosa do Paraguai, a luta pela preservação dos valores tradicionais do Bu ...more
Jul 29, 2014 Katrice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed-books
I tend to classify travel writers in two general categories, the “fabulous, fabulous” and the “dotty uncle”. For me to get to into that would require another entry all together but basically the strength of the “fabulous, fabulous” is really poetic and picturesque descriptions of the place and their weakness is a cold impersonalness. The “dotty uncle” is more earthy, candid and relaable but tends to be too personal and too subjective and you’re not really given a good picture of the place itself ...more
Jul 22, 2013 S. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cheshire
Pico Iyer might be the most difficult contemporary writer to summarize or review. a product of Eton, Oxford (Double First Class degree) and Harvard, he might very well have a 180 I.Q. one is intimidated by his intellect and academic training. Time Magazine. 10 cover stories. anything you write about him, aren't you merely setting yourself up for a devastating cross-interrogation?

as I wrote in my first review of his work, a noticeable feature of his work is the continual and continuing innocence
Margie Thessin
Jan 12, 2015 Margie Thessin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book in the Delhi airport for something to read on the 17- hour flight ahead and what an entertaining diversion it was. I learned a lot about places I frankly never gave any thought to and most of which I have no desire to visit (Bhutan? Paraguay? No.). Nothing I read here changed my future travel plans. I like good food and creature comforts and these aren't available at any price in many of these places. So sorry, not going.
I did like reading about them though.
Jun 24, 2010 Kim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book of travel essays is a very dated snapshot of a wide range of countries in the 1980s, and it definitely piqued my interest in visiting some places I didn't know much about, particularly Iceland. While the book is an easy, engaging read with curious descriptions of the people and places he encounters on his journeys, I found Pico Iyer's writing a bit distant, a lot Orientalist, and not as down-and-dirty as he sometimes portrays himself on these adventures. He reports his interaction with ...more
Thomas Cooney
Oct 09, 2015 Thomas Cooney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first book I ever read by Iyer, but certainly not the last. This came strongly recommended by the first creative writing professor I ever had, back in the early 1990s, and it didn't disappoint. It's been too long since I read it to get into specifics, but I loved the essays on Iceland and North Korea. If you love writing, reading, travel, and, like me and like Pico Iyer, are a supplicant to Graham Greene, this is a great place to start with Iyer.
Feb 29, 2008 Torie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I randomly picked this book out of the small collection in the house where we stayed in Hawai'i. Being in vagabond mode, I enjoyed the quaintly written travelogues of "the world's loneliest places." Most travel writing is challenging for me. This was better than Bill Bryson (is he a travel writer?), whom I just can't get into, but Iyer's writing was still somehow lacking. He gave good historical backgrounds to the places he wrote about (North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, Iceland, Paraguay, ...more
Aug 03, 2015 Rob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful documentation of places in time. This was my first Pico Iyer book, and he reads like a gentler, more poetic Paul Theroux. I really loved the imagery and the ability to see places frozen in time as they opened to the outside world for the first time in decades. Many of these places no longer exist in a form recognizable from the book (Iceland has changed significantly, for instance), so it's a great postcard from 30 years ago.
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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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“So it is that Lonely Places attract as many lonely people as they produce, and the loneliness we see in them is partly in ourselves.” 15 likes
“Finding a sanctuary, a place apart from time, is not so different from finding a faith.” 13 likes
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