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The Backpacker

3.62 of 5 stars 3.62  ·  rating details  ·  217 ratings  ·  22 reviews
For fans of Alex Garland's The Beach, a true story of out-of-control travel

"Leaving the blinding sand for the cool shade of the trees, I walked carefully through the undergrowth to where Dave, using two twigs as chopsticks, was picking up a freshly severed human finger . . . "

John's trip to India starts badly when his girlfriend, with whom he is traveling, returns home. Le
Paperback, 384 pages
Published November 1st 2011 by Summersdale (first published 2001)
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(showing 1-30 of 436)
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John Harris is exactly the kind of tourist that has destroyed places like Thailand and made millions of people around the world think of Westerners as shallow, self-absorbed hedonists. Read this book to find out how not to travel.
Dan Walsh
From a strong start this “true story” (rubbish) turned into badly written infantile crap. I felt annoyed I wasted my time reading it. Definitely no “The Beach”. Avoid.
The adventure story is a nice page turner. Apart from that, it's no literary master piece. The character started to p*ss me off at some point, because they are self-absorbed and egocentric a**holes who just care about drugs and women, most of which are prostitutes. The main characters (and if this is based on a true story, so the author) have no empathy or even interest in the people of the countries they travel in. They are portrayed as either ripping them off or, well, being hookers. Women are ...more
Francesco Bifera
The concept and story of 'The Backpacker' is truly exciting and amazing, it really depicts the trials and tribulations of the events of backpacking and all the different opportunities one can be presented with living each day differently. The story displays so many different emotions and can be enjoyed by a broad range of social population. This is a truly captivating book which wants you reading more, it really consumes the reader and makes one believe they are traveling alongside, bearing the ...more
Since I first read The Beach I got hooked on travel stories of finding not only new paradises but also yourself. John Harris's book is exactly what i needed approaching the challenge of not following the establishment and instead following my itchy feet. The book is closely related to The Beach, most of the plot is situated in Thailand and the area, but of course being a real-life story is less dramatic and more grounded. Still there is life-turning point and the last pages of the book made me c ...more
Nov 12, 2011 Tasha-Lynn rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: amanda hankins
Shelves: read-2011
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I certainly enjoy debauched travel writing and hope to someday create my own. I don't always enjoy the hipster posturing that goes along with it--the idea that those who travel are inherently cooler and more insightful than those who have sold out and decided to stay home (although as an expat in Southeast Asia I do like to tell myself occasionally that this is true)--and I sense a lot of this type of stance in this book.

While I was living in Egypt, a friend let me borrow this book. I started an
Yes, it's a cliche to talk about the journey we readers go on, but I think it's a reasonable compliment for this memoir because John Harris took me on a journey. This true story of his experience traveling for over a year across Southeast Asia was extremely visceral. I have been studying this region since the beginning of the year, and while I have learned a lot from other books, this one really put me there - in the good and bad ways.

Harris's prose is never flowery or tedious. His writing has
not a book i would normally choose, but i did find it enjoyable.
Charlotte Knaggs
I read this mainly for the Koh Phangan Had Rin setting, having been there on honeymoon. This is no great work of literature - the flat descriptions that fail to evoke any real sense of the places he visits make this a mediocre read. Every single one of the characters is pretty unlikeable too, so it's hard to care very much how much trouble they're in. The book's saving grace is the adventure story. I doubt it's entirely true but it's a wittily told page turner and sufficiently kept my interest t ...more
I’m not really sure why this book has been compared to The Beach as the similarities begin and end in Thailand, and even then their link is simply location and perhaps the burning desire to find places off the beaten path to call home. This book is far more about adventure and the authors craving to leave the 9 to 5 behind. Whereas Garland was content to substitute one routine for another, here the author is in constant search for forward momentum and new experiences.
Adventure packed travelling. Lots of synchronocities ranging from meeting the right people to being in a right place at right time.. leading to both good and bad (which add to a real experience)... kind of encourages for backpackers to look forward to thier journey into the unknown.. Trusting not the money, not the security, not the people's company, but trusting the universe.. is enough to have a good time!!

I loved the book!
If , like me, you were a member of the backpacking generation you will enjoy this tale and probably revive some of your old memories from your own travels. There are some slight exagerations in the story but in an industry where there is a serious lack of good backpacking stories this one is a gem.
Great book, but slightly disappointed with the ending. Also - wondering why nothing more was said about the poor bloke they lost on the Yacht. After the horrific event, he wasn't mentioned again (other than a very brief musing)!
A very quick, very entertaining read. I thoroughly enjoyed his writing style and the story is every traveler's nightmare/dream. If you plan on traveling to Southeast Asia, or have recently been, I highly recommend it.
another inspiring peice of travel writing. I would say if you're a fan of 'the beach' by Alex Garland you will also enjoy this book. It was a simple and interesting read that kept my attention without waver.
Kevin Bennett
Picked this book up from a hostel while traveling around New Zealand and was a perfect read for that time. 10 years later I would probably quite like to re-visit it to see if I'd enjoy it as much.
Jeni Treehugger
I really enjoyed this book. It reminded me of The Beach in some places but it is different enough in its own right that there is no comparison.
Danielle Clarke
A gripping book of a man and his travelling friends. Teary at times, full of smiles while reading. Was thoroughly hooked from beginning to end!
Liked the book, wasn't a fan of the author... More here
Donna Rothwell
I enjoyed this book butI was a tad predictable..and the ending was abit pants!
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“Work is a four letter word. It conjures up the same image the world over getting up in the morning to do something you don't want to do, day in day out. After a few months work, or years, depending on the person's primeval yearning for freedom, you feel like a robot: alarm clock, get up, wash, catch the train, work, go home, watch TV, go to bed. In that one sentence I've probably just described the daily routine of 95% of the working population of England. It's the same in every other developed country in the world. Routine is the cause of most marriage break ups and social discontent.” 9 likes
“So, in what we considered the true spirit of freedom and the timeless nature of our travel plans, a few months after the sacrifice of Dave's airline ticket, the three of us ceremoniously burnt our watches, too.” 1 likes
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