Book review: “A Sense of Direction” by Gideon Lewis-Kraus

This book describes the young (30ish?)author’s experience doing 3 pilgrimages: El Camino in Spain (Catholic), 88 temples on the Japanese island of Shikoku (Buddhist) and a Rosh Hashanah pilgrimage of Hasids in Ukraine (Jewish)

Lewis-Kraus writes extremely well and has a bizarre sense of humour that I enjoyed. However, he went a little overboard at times with the intellectual navel gazing – showing his youth, for which I’ll forgive him. I would have cut out most of the first 55 pages on his purposelessness in Berlin, as well as quite a few other sections.

A line I liked was “I only like travel writing when it’s not about travel at all but rather about friendship, lies, digression, amaterism, trains, and sex.” I might change a few of those nouns, but the point is that travel writing should tell a story. He did well for most of the book and I just skimmed over the rest.

Overall, I enjoyed it enough to write this review. Certainly, his description of the Camino experience revived my interest in going there myself. Stay tuned for that!

Meanwhile, here’s a link if you want to read more about the Japanese pilgrimage on Shikoku.