Unlike the first companion book that went with the original season of Idiot Abroad, the second series book is NOT a travel diary. Karl explains he didn’t feel well enough or have the time to complete a diary on these trips and decided to write his thoughts on his travels after the fact.
In some ways it works out better. He’s able to look back and discuss exactly what happened on his travels with the benefit of hindsight. There are times when you do miss his instant thoughts on a subject and the format of the diary that appears in the first book.
The layout is very similar to the first book. Each chapter consists of one episode, starting with Ricky and Steve’s pitch (often expanded from what appears on the show), and then continues with Karl’s thoughts on the events of the specific adventure. Like the show, the final bucket list item is only part of the chapter, and we get Karl’s thoughts on the mini-bucket list items Ricky and Steve tried to get him to do.
The main text expands on what happens on the program and adds some extras (like doing “zorbing” in New Zealand or Karl’s expanded Glee performance where he had lines and got them in the wrong order). A fan of the series will definitely like the additions, and it helps better understand the order of events (like Karl’s option to do a wing-walk or participate in the International Mr. Leather Competition).
One of the best features of the book is the running checklist of “bucket list” items that Karl checks off. He says at the beginning of the book, after analyzing the bucket list he realized he actually completed a lot more of the list than he thought, and probably more than most people. Of course, in traditional Karl fashion, he takes liberties with his “completed” list. To him having been offered the chance to do something is as good as completing it. For example, experiencing weightlessness and doing a bungee jump are both checked off the list. While he certainly had some experiences with both of these choices whether or not you could say he really experienced them in the way they are intended in the bucket list is a bit debatable. In a way I can see the purity in this kind of thinking. Most of us don’t have the opportunity to experience the bucket list items. And there is pressure, especially on a travel program; to do everything that comes you’re asked to do for the program. When present with something he didn’t want to do, Karl wouldn’t do it…however he actively chose not to do these activities after a real opportunity to do them. How many of us would get the chance to experience travelling into space? Karl had the chance and the fact that he decided NOT to do it is as good as participating to him! I can understand that. Thinking of skydiving, I could say it’s something I would not want to do, and I’ve never been asked to. I’d think if someone did give me the chance and I said “no!” that would be good enough for me to cross it off the list!
Most interestingly, “get in the Guinness World Book of Records” IS something he checked off the list and deserved to for the “most downloaded podcast,” the Ricky Gervais Show, which many of us know was really all about him.
Similarly interesting are the things he doesn’t check off as completed and his thoughts on why he didn’t do them and wouldn’t. Researching your family would only be interesting to Karl if he could trace his family all the way back to the earliest stages of life (“an ape, jellyfish, or slug” according to him!), that he’d only want to “continue his gene pool,” if there was some kind of “try before you buy” program, or that it would be good to see orangutans…but he would want to see them in London and not travel all the way to Borneo to do it.
Like the first companion book, The Further Adventures of an Idiot Abroad is a must-read for fans of the show. We only see snippets of Karl’s adventures on the show. The books always fill in the gaps and give readers more of his unique philosophy.
As a bonus, there are some comments on the THIRD season of Idiot Abroad in this book. While he doesn’t go into detail, some of what happens during the Marco Polo Trail episodes is mentioned. Since we aren’t likely to get a book about THAT series it was a nice surprise!
A video of Karl at his first ever book signing:
It’s available here!