Are You Experienced is a devastatingly funny satire on the whole idea of student travel - particularly the India backpack trail. Dave travels to India with Liz because he thinks he might be able to get her into bed. Liz travels to India with Dave because she wants a companion for her voyage of spiritual discovery. She loves it. He dreams of frosty mornings, pints of lager and restaurants where vegetable curry is only a side-dish....
I picked up this book as soon as it came to my attention because there was a time in my life when traveling was my favorite thing, and how I spent every spare penny I could squirrel away. India was always on the wish list, but never came to pass. On average, I tend to enjoy most travel memoirs or stories written by people who have really had the experience of traveling.
The author, William Sutcliffe, did in fact spend about 3 months traveling in India during his gap year, just as the protagonist in this story does. I have no idea if any of the events experienced by the character were shared by the author, but the general spirit of an adventure to a culture really different to your own was certainly very authentic, and told with the humor and affection that I think most people that travel for pleasure look back on their trips with.
Fair warning: there is some discussion/scenes of adult content. None of them are over the top, but it is an aspect of the story. While making the decision on if this selection is a good choice for you, include that in your decision making.
Overall however, I really enjoyed hitching a ride through India with our flawed hero. The level of humor, honesty and accuracy were spot on, and the description of how you look back on the trip after you're back at home could not have rung more true.
It's a quick read (or listen) that left me smiling and remembering my own adventures. The narrator, Tom Lawrence, could not have done a better job and certainly played a huge part in how much I enjoyed this experience.
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Read this book while on a study abroad in London. So nice to be able to find out again.
What did you love best about Are You Experienced??
Probably the funniest book I've ever listened to.
What other book might you compare Are You Experienced? to and why?
Bill Bryson's travel books.