The Weird, Wonderful, Worrying World of Amazon Book Reviews

There can be little more satisfying achievement in life than having a book published that documents your tremendous travel tales, amazing and awe-inspiring adventures, and your pathetic penchant for affected alliteration. You spend years seeing the world, pour your blood and sweat onto the page, publish it for the world to admire and... you end up getting reviews like this. Truly, it's a thankless task.

There are some strange reviewers lurking on Amazon, and even the best travel books in the world aren't safe from...

People who clearly hate travellers

If you don't have anything nice to say, maybe keep it zipped.

- The Motorcycle Diaries, Ernesto "Che" Guevara

- The Beach, Alex Garland

- Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts

People who don't understand how a review works

The purpose of a review is to use your knowledge to eloquently assess the successes and failures of a given book or other artwork, right? Right?

 - Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts

- Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer

- Travels with Charley, John Steinbeck

- Eric Newby, A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush


And some people apparently haven't quite got to grips with how a star system works:

- Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts

People who didn't actually read the book

You would think it was important to read a book before you offer your review, a review that has the potential to snatch food from the table of a hard-working author and throw their family into poverty. You would be mistaken.

- Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortinsen

- The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

- Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts

People who are pissed off at Bill Bryson

One of the most popular and prolific travel writers out there is Bill Bryson, whose intelligence, wit, and wry observations are appreciated by many. But not everyone.

- Bill Bryson, Notes From a Small Island

- Bill Bryson, Neither Here, nor There: Travels in Europe

- Bill Bryson, Down Under

- Bill Bryson, Notes From a Small Island

People who keep it short but sweet

Time is money! The disdain these reviewers felt for the books at hand meant they wouldn't even waste the no doubt incredible extent of their vocabulary on them.

- Bill Bryson, Notes from a Small Island

- Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer

- The Beach, Alex Garland

People who ask the important questions

You might give a book a bad review because it's thematically suspect, it falls foul of ludonarrative dissonance, or is just plain poorly written. And then there are the really important things.

- The Beach, Alex Garland

Special shout out to this person who can't tell the difference between travel writing and a travel guide:

- Venice, Jan Morris


It really is impossible to please everyone.