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on June 29, 1999
I think it's interesting that the reviews of Size of the World presented here are either 5 stars or 2 stars, indicating that people respond very strongly to this book, in either a very positive or negative way. Personally, I loved it. It was great taking a journey with a travel writer who seemed so much more like a real person than the usual omniscient guides in more traditional books. Jeff Greenwald the author has flaws, true, but don't we all. He's not presenting himself to be an all-knowing master guide to the Universe. He acknowledges the discomfort and loneliness as well as the joy and wonder of his travel experiences and communicates them without that holier-than-thou attitude so many travel writers seem to wallow in.
As a result, I think people who respond to real, sincere, honest writing will love this book. If you're looking for someone cool and hip that will help make you feel cool and hip, go read someone else.
I think this book has probably touched many lives in a deep and spirtual way. It's also hilariously funny and as I stated in my one line review, thoroughly entertaining. Please don't let some of the negative reviews expressed here prevent you from checking this book out.
Patty S.
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on November 9, 1999
This is perhaps one of the best travelogues ever written. Contrary to previous reviews, Mr. Greenwald's grasp of Buddhism is quite solid, not resembling a "flirtation" whatsoever. As a fellow buddhist and world traveler myself, I found his trip hilarious and awe inspiring. Travelogues too often times fail in their attempts at being effective personal essays, but Mr. Greenwald hits the nail squarely on the head with this one (as he does with most of his books). Read this and buy his other works too. You won't be disappointed.
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on July 17, 2000
He sets himself up for a karmic tumble and of course his fall from grace is hysterical. Fortunately there wasn't far to fall so he survives with some great stories to tell. I enjoyed this book so much I gave it to my husband and kids (of the adult variety)in turn. For a month, it seemed someone was always erupting in laughter somewhere in our house. Unlike Paul Theroux (whom I enjoy in spite of his crankiness), Jeff Greenwald's most humorous revelations are usually at his own expense. As generally happens, travel highlights the contrast between the romance of the idea with the reality of the voyage and visa versa. This isn't a trip I'd take myself, but I'm very glad Mr. Greenwald did!
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on July 15, 2003
There is a great quote from this book: "Strange travel suggestions are like dancing lessons from God." Take the quote to heart and you will find that, like Jeff Greenwald, your travels will be full of wonderfully uprising twists and once in a lifetime experiences! I can't say enough good thins about the book. It enthralled me from cover to cover. I have loaned out my copy so many times that It has come back tattered, full of margin notes, and dog-eared. If travel literature is your thing, this is bound to be a favorite.
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on September 13, 2013
Wow, what an extraordinary tale of trying to circumvent the world without getting on an airplane. I have to admire the fortitude and determination to complete such a task!
I am exhausted and a bit jealous of some of Jeff's adventures. Some of the hazards and pleasures of this trip are amazing. Here is to Jeff for attempting this and then writing about it so beautifully. all the good and bad times are well worth the read.
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on December 23, 1998
After Reading Jeff Greenwald's The Size Of the World I was exhausted! I felt as if I had personally travelled with him to all of the exciting places he had ventured to...his honesty of what it is really like as a foreign traveler was very refreshing. Too many writers try to mystify a place, when in actuality it is often a hard road to travel in foreign territory. Jeff Greenwald tells it like it really is, without destroying the unique beauty of a place or its people. This book made me laugh so hard, made me cry, and made me a little homesick -For anyone who has been attacked by the travel-bug, or anyone seriously considering doing any extensive travel overseas, or anyone wanting to try traveling "off the beaten path"...this is it! Throw away your Lonely Planet Guide and take jeff along with you!- this is the book to cure your itch! A definite keeper!
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on November 30, 1998
Jeff Greenwald brings the enormousness of the world to our minds and imagination. His personal perspective and his tribulations and dilemmas are very well shared without him sounding too self-centered and absorbed with his own opinions. The best part of the book was his unannounced visit to the American expatriate-writer Paul Bowles in Tangier, Morocco. His visit (not his first) to Nepal and Tibet was a little overstated, but given his personal convictions, this is understandable. We may not all have the same degree of time, resource, and ardor that Jeff has for traveling, but this book is a beautiful reminder of the mystery, intrigue, and wonder the world out there has in store for us who are willing to appreciate it. And all this talk about global village, cyberspace, communication by email, internet, fax, cell phone, and quick transportation by airplanes have not diminished the lure of travel and the delicious danger that may lie ahead!
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on October 28, 2012
I randomly picked this book up at the library and quickly realized that Greenwald is a very rare sort of writer - equally capable of creating beauty and comedy. At least once per page is a passage so beautifully written that I have to pause, imagine the scene described, and read it over a few more times ("Just after dark we slowed to a stop. The headlights of oncoming traffic illuminated two giant dromedaries, silhouetted on the highway like misplaced myths"). Also at least once per page is a passage that has me laughing out loud (referring to passengers on a cruise ship: "What do all these creatures have in common? The answer, of course, was an irrepressible addiction to Hard Rock Cafe' T-shirts"). It's the sort of book I do not want to finish, but rather I read slowly and let the images fully develop in my head.
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on April 7, 2013
Jeff Greenwald sets himself the goal of circling the earth, Oakland to Oakland, via land and water, eschewing air travel. He describes his adventures on the road in rich detail, with wry self-deprecating humor, which often makes you laugh out loud, (best not to read the book on a crowded bus or subway.) It is a very long read but he invites you to come with him on the journey and treats you like one of his best, most intimate friends. The book is well worth your time.
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on October 14, 2010
In a longish career of reading travel writing, this book still tops my list. By turns wise, hilarious, bizarre, and inspiring, it was the book I read just before I began to travel. It's a classic of the genre, so lovely and entertaining you want to hug it - a nearly perfect little gem. That it's out of print is a national disgrace. Hope springs &c.
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