Literature Recommendation- Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

This isn’t a book anyone can read in only one week. In fact, it would be hard to get through this book in even a month. This is not because the book is lengthy, which it is, but instead because the book is a heavy piece and not recommended for the weak of heart. I, Brenna Camping, recommend this book to anyone who craves adventure, philosophy, danger, and great reflection. I do not recommend this book for those looking for something fun to read. It was a book of great beauty, but not a book of great fun.

This book will forever weigh heavily on my heart

As a brief synopsis, Shantaram is about a man in Bombay before the time when it became Mumbai. Any history nerd may enjoy that fact. It is a novel loosely based on the author’s own life about an escaped convict from Australia who flees to India for freedom. When there, the reader gets a glimpse into the life of those in the slum, in the mafia, and in the underground runnings of the bustling Bombay. This is nothing you can’t read on the back yourself.

It appears at first glimpse to be a story told almost in the format of a lengthy epic purely for entertainment. It isn’t. It is a book I struggled to read more than a chapter at a time due to one significant characteristic of Robert’s writing. The book is built around raw honesty. Personally, I think the narrator is minimally a narcissist so I take his philosophical words with a grain of salt, but that opinion also plays into the book’s virtue of honesty. Who doesn’t want to be right at all times?

The words within the book are heavily descriptive to help capture another culture in its entirety. The world of Bombay is nothing like any world I had ever encountered before. Roberts does an excellent job of making me feel as if I am in the slums alongside him. This fact is both wonderful and horrible. The book, being one of complete honesty, did not spare any gruesome details. I know the smells of the sewers running along the slums, I’ve seen the sights of men brutally murdered in the streets, and I’ve felt the pain of heroine leaving the body cold turkey. Of course, I haven’t experienced any of these sensations in reality but I am no longer oblivious to them either.

As a reader, you must be a bit of a masochist to enjoy this book.

I am. I like my thai food at spicy level five and my workouts to leave me nearly throwing up. This book filled my heart with reflection and perhaps even changed my life as well as mindset. I am not easily swayed in my viewpoints, but this book impacted me so deeply that once I put it down, I knew I was not who I used to be. I loved this book and I recommend it to anyone who does not fear the commitment of a long read. I recommend it to the curious, to the unafraid, and to the willful spirits. This is not a book for everyone, but it was a book for me.

Shantaram is the most impactful book I had ever read

I wouldn’t say this book was my favorite. Personally, a book with a more fun loving spirit leaves me feeling more satisfied at its finale. However, I had never read a book that required more reflection or more time devoted to its reading.

Pick up this book if you love adventure, danger, philosophy, and intensity.


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