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“Travel connoisseurs divide the world into those places they’ve been dying to visit or revisit and places they’d never set foot in but are glad someone else did. This year’s volume of travel writing . . . focuses mostly on the latter with derring-do dispatches.” — USA Today A far-ranging collection of the best travel writing pieces published in 2013, collected by guest edit “Travel connoisseurs divide the world into those places they’ve been dying to visit or revisit and places they’d never set foot in but are glad someone else did. This year’s volume of travel writing . . . focuses mostly on the latter with derring-do dispatches.” — USA Today A far-ranging collection of the best travel writing pieces published in 2013, collected by guest editor Paul Theroux. The Best American Travel Writing consistently includes a wide variety of pieces, illuminating the wonder, humor, fear, and exhilaration that greets all of us when we embark on a journey to a new place. Readers know that there is simply no other option when they want great travel writing.


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“Travel connoisseurs divide the world into those places they’ve been dying to visit or revisit and places they’d never set foot in but are glad someone else did. This year’s volume of travel writing . . . focuses mostly on the latter with derring-do dispatches.” — USA Today A far-ranging collection of the best travel writing pieces published in 2013, collected by guest edit “Travel connoisseurs divide the world into those places they’ve been dying to visit or revisit and places they’d never set foot in but are glad someone else did. This year’s volume of travel writing . . . focuses mostly on the latter with derring-do dispatches.” — USA Today A far-ranging collection of the best travel writing pieces published in 2013, collected by guest editor Paul Theroux. The Best American Travel Writing consistently includes a wide variety of pieces, illuminating the wonder, humor, fear, and exhilaration that greets all of us when we embark on a journey to a new place. Readers know that there is simply no other option when they want great travel writing.

30 review for The Best American Travel Writing 2014

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    One of the better "Best American Travel Writing" collections I've read, this one has a good collection of memorable travel essays on a variety of topics and locations. The only one I really didn't care for and slogged through was the one the editors opened with ("Poisoned Land" by Elif Bautman), which was more science writing than travel, although I suppose what's cool about travel writing is that it's so all-encompassing that even an essay such as this could be travel. My favorite by far was "Fi One of the better "Best American Travel Writing" collections I've read, this one has a good collection of memorable travel essays on a variety of topics and locations. The only one I really didn't care for and slogged through was the one the editors opened with ("Poisoned Land" by Elif Bautman), which was more science writing than travel, although I suppose what's cool about travel writing is that it's so all-encompassing that even an essay such as this could be travel. My favorite by far was "Fifty Shades of Greyhound" by Harrison Scott Key, and I can't wait to read his memoir, because this guy is laugh-out-loud funny. Other highlights include: "460 Days," by Amanda Lindhout with Sara Corbett, which made me want to read "A House in the Sky" even more than I did before (although the skeptical reader in me thinks this reads like it wants to be a movie, not to make light of Lindhout's horrible experience); "Excuse Us While We Kiss the Sky," by Matthew Power, which I remember reading bits of previously but I'm glad to see it's included in this anthology and bummed to hear this great travel writer has since died; and "Open Water" by Sean Wilsey, which may or may not be among the most memorable because it was the last one in the book. "Sun King" by Bob Shachochis was also good, though I know nothing of fishing, so that's probably a sign of a great narrative considering I wouldn't ordinarily pick up that article. The only thing I might have wanted more out of in this book is the art that originally ran with the articles, and I admit I checked out of the essays online while at work in addition to in the book so that I could really picture the places described.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Patrick McCoy

    I sought out the The Best American Travel Writing 2014 mainly because the guest editor this time was one of my favorite travel writers, Paul Theroux. It is another solid collection, I didn't skip any of the essay this time round. Some of the standouts for me were: "Amigos" by Julia Cooke, about real life in Cuba, "460 Days" by Amanda Lindhout with Sara Corbett, about being held for ransom in Somalia, "Now We Are Five" by David Sedaris, about his family's first vacation after one of his sisters c I sought out the The Best American Travel Writing 2014 mainly because the guest editor this time was one of my favorite travel writers, Paul Theroux. It is another solid collection, I didn't skip any of the essay this time round. Some of the standouts for me were: "Amigos" by Julia Cooke, about real life in Cuba, "460 Days" by Amanda Lindhout with Sara Corbett, about being held for ransom in Somalia, "Now We Are Five" by David Sedaris, about his family's first vacation after one of his sisters committed suicide, "Maximum Bombay" by Gary Shteyngart, about Mumbai, "Loving Las Vegas" by Colson Whitehead, about early travels in America with his college friends, and "Open Water" by Sean Wilsey about his gondolier connection with Venice. I suppose these collections reflect the tastes of the guest editors and I can see here Theroux and I have similar tastes by the subjects he chose to include in this collection. I know that he is one of those writers who isn't for everyone, but I think he's done an admirable job with this collection.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    This is a selection of travel essays published in various magazines during 1914. I chose to read this volume first because it was edited by Paul Theroux, whose work I greatly admire. The individual essays run the gamut from fair to excellent, with my main complaint being that not all of the authors wrote about areas that interested me, though there is one cute essay about Las Vegas. This is a selection of travel essays published in various magazines during 1914. I chose to read this volume first because it was edited by Paul Theroux, whose work I greatly admire. The individual essays run the gamut from fair to excellent, with my main complaint being that not all of the authors wrote about areas that interested me, though there is one cute essay about Las Vegas.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Stacy

    Finally!! After seven months of trying to finish this book: Mission. Accomplished!! The last essay/short story I read in this collection was "Born on the 9th of July," by Patrick Symmes, about a trip he took to South Sudan in 2012. One year before his visit, on July 9, 2011, South Sudan achieved independence from Sudan. This was a fascinating essay: well-written, packed with information, history, interesting people, and travel details, and laced with touches of humor throughout. This essay was a p Finally!! After seven months of trying to finish this book: Mission. Accomplished!! The last essay/short story I read in this collection was "Born on the 9th of July," by Patrick Symmes, about a trip he took to South Sudan in 2012. One year before his visit, on July 9, 2011, South Sudan achieved independence from Sudan. This was a fascinating essay: well-written, packed with information, history, interesting people, and travel details, and laced with touches of humor throughout. This essay was a perfect example of the kind of writing I *expect* when I pick up one of these collections to read. "The Best American Travel Writing: 2014," however, is a much more philosophical, historical, and somber collection than others I've read. The first two essays really set the tone for this book: "Poisoned Land," about medical researchers conducting work treating a mysterious kidney-wasting disease in the countries of the former Yugoslavia (an essay which had like, NO travel-adventure details, but a *ton* of medical language and Balkan history); and "Amigos," about impoverished Communist workers in modern-day Cuba, centered on the life of a hardscrabble hairdresser who makes better money as a prostitute. "Amigos" was an unrelentingly sad story, and the ending was powerful in its unflinching honesty, a truthfulness that I welcomed and embraced, even though the truth was so utterly depressing that I didn't want to read the book anymore. Things didn't get any better with essay/short story #3, "Life During Wartime," in which the author expresses a lot of existential angst and despair over her lost youth and passion for life, which she last felt while covering the war in Sarajevo as a journalist in the 1990s. This essay featured a lot of brutal history, details involving the war, and the author's hard life spent as a war reporter, and ended on a sad note of helplessness. So many of these essays were great at opening my eyes to parts of the world I don't know much about, but the philosophical and historical tone, overlaid with copious amounts of Grim Reality, did not make me want to visit any of these places, did not inspire any kind of wanderlust within me, and I really, really struggled to finish the book. So why am I giving this 5 stars, rather than 2 or 3? Well, quite simply, for Matthew Power's essay, "Excuse Us While We Kiss the Sky" -- a short story of his time spent with "urban explorers." People who infiltrate and explore urban locations that should be off-limits to the public: abandoned Tube stations, uncompleted skyscrapers, Cold War nuclear bunkers, a derelict submarine, the catacombs beneath Paris. The writing in this piece was exquisite, the subject material was exhilarating as well as fascinating, and I found myself transported into that rare place of magic in which I enter a piece of writing and never want it to end. The author, Matthew Power, is dead now. The book's Foreward states that this book is dedicated to him, and that he "died tragically in March of this year [2014] while on assignment in Uganda, reporting on an explorer walking the length of the Nile. Matt was 39, [...] and he was a true adventurer and seeker of truth [...]" Matthew Power's essay was not the only one I enjoyed. I mentioned "Born on the 9th of July" as a favorite, and I also loved "Dream Acres," about a young man who bought a filthy, broken-down shack in Alaska with his friends, and then took his girlfriend to visit. "The Last of Eden," about the few remaining tribes in what is left of the rain forests of Brazil, was highly informative and interesting, even though it was also super-depressing. I really enjoyed the history in "Birthplace of the American Vacation," about the inspiration behind the "great camps" around Sagamore Lake in Adirondack Park, and how people are trying to save and restore these camps now, after so many of these gorgeous places have been destroyed. (Okay, I admit: this essay DID make me want to travel to Adirondack Park and book a vacation at one of these antique "camps." I stand corrected.) And the long essay, "460 Days," a condensed account of the book Amanda Lindhout wrote about being kidnapped and imprisoned by terrorists in Somalia in 2008 -- this was also an extremely memorable piece of literature. Not because it makes anyone want to travel to Somalia, but because it was utterly horrifying and searing to read. This is a book I plan to keep on my shelf, because the essays I loved really spoke to me, enough that I will want to go back and reread them. There is a lot of brilliant, exciting, and heartfelt writing packed into this collection. I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys well-written prose and wants to expand their horizons, learn more about under-discussed places in the world, and find new sparks of creativity in their own life.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jason Griffith

    This collection runs quite a gamut in terms of subject matter, tone, and audience. From stories of kidnapping, captivity, and ransom in Somalia; to mountain climbing in South Sudan; to David Sedaris's remembrance of his sister (after her suicide) as the family gathers at a beach house; to tourism competing with drug running in modern Columbia, to more traditional travel essays on Las Vegas, the Adirondacks, and Bombay, there's a lot of diverse ground covered. My favorite essays in this volume in This collection runs quite a gamut in terms of subject matter, tone, and audience. From stories of kidnapping, captivity, and ransom in Somalia; to mountain climbing in South Sudan; to David Sedaris's remembrance of his sister (after her suicide) as the family gathers at a beach house; to tourism competing with drug running in modern Columbia, to more traditional travel essays on Las Vegas, the Adirondacks, and Bombay, there's a lot of diverse ground covered. My favorite essays in this volume include the late Matthew Power's "Excuse Us While We Kiss the Sky" in which he tags along with urban (urbex) explorers in Paris and London, and Sean Wiley's ode to Venice and his quest to become a gondolier "Open Water."

  6. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    Many of the articles in this collection are perhaps a different kind of travel writing than one might expect. They’re not about recommending hotels, restaurants, or itineraries. Instead, they help readers feel a sense of place—and place in time—with all its beauty or ugliness (sometimes both) or thrill. You feel immersed in a particular culture or moment until it is a part of you. That is modern “travel,” or geographically based, writing at its best. Paul Theroux has done a decent job at curating Many of the articles in this collection are perhaps a different kind of travel writing than one might expect. They’re not about recommending hotels, restaurants, or itineraries. Instead, they help readers feel a sense of place—and place in time—with all its beauty or ugliness (sometimes both) or thrill. You feel immersed in a particular culture or moment until it is a part of you. That is modern “travel,” or geographically based, writing at its best. Paul Theroux has done a decent job at curating. Kudos to Outside magazine for having so many of its authors represented here; its editors chose some quality articles in 2014! Overall, this is a good collection, though not all to my taste. The biggest downside to it (and to all of these collections) is that there are no photographs. If you don’t have time to pick up this book from the library, you could read some of the best articles online (links below); that way, you’d see the images as well. However, not all of the articles included in the collection can be accessed this way. My favorite articles from this bunch were: - "Amigos" by Julia Cook. http://www.vqronline.org/articles/amigos This is not the sort of article I would have chosen for myself, but it certainly gave me a taste of Cuba, particularly the gritty real behind the touristy veneer. I was amazed at Julia Cook's access, and at her courage in sharing this interesting "friendship" with the world. - “Life During Wartime” by Janine di Giovanni https://harpers.org/archive/2013/04/l... I loved this one. If you saw Whisky Tango Foxtrot, you got a particle of the wartime reporting experience (only in the Middle East instead of Sarajevo), but this article gives the real deal instead of Hollywood’s version. - “America the Marvelous” by A. A. Gill https://www.vanityfair.com/culture/20... … in which we get a reasoned essay on why Americans *aren’t* stereotypically awful and ugly and terrible. - “Fifty Shades of Greyhound” by Harrison Scott Key https://www.oxfordamerican.org/magazi... An experience in bus travel in America, with all its quirks. - “460 Days” by Amanda Lindhout with Sara Corbett http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/01/mag... A firsthand account from someone who was kidnapped in Somalia and lived to tell the tale. - “Excuse Us While We Kiss the Sky” by Matthew Power https://www.gq.com/story/urban-explor... Fascinating. This is a look at an underground group going places you’ll NEVER go, including the off-limits apexes of the Brooklyn Bridge, London’s Shard, and Notre Dame. (FYI: The author died tragically in 2014 while working in Uganda.) - “Born on the 9th of July” by Patrick Symmes https://www.outsideonline.com/1920566... A walk through South Sudan. - “Open Water” by Sean Wilsey https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/20... Plying the Venetian lagoon alone in a small boat. (Warning: strong language.) Honorable mentions: “Love in the Time of Coca,” “Birthplace of the American Vacation,” “The Last of Eden,” “Maximum Bombay,” “A Moving Experience.”

  7. 4 out of 5

    Andy Kristensen

    This is the first edition of the ‘Best American Travel Writing’ series that I’ve read and I have to say many of the essays and articles contained within were great. I’ve read two editions of the ‘Best American Essays’ series so far and I have to say this collection, while slightly different from the pure ‘Essays’ series, blew those two out of the water. Highlights here are Cooke’s “Amigos,” an exploration of a side of Cuba that many Americans will never see, di Giovanni’s “Life During Wartime,” This is the first edition of the ‘Best American Travel Writing’ series that I’ve read and I have to say many of the essays and articles contained within were great. I’ve read two editions of the ‘Best American Essays’ series so far and I have to say this collection, while slightly different from the pure ‘Essays’ series, blew those two out of the water. Highlights here are Cooke’s “Amigos,” an exploration of a side of Cuba that many Americans will never see, di Giovanni’s “Life During Wartime,” a look back at the Bosnian Conflict of the 1990s, Lindhout’s “460 Days,” a recounting of her time spent as a captive by Somali terrorists in the Somali desert, Paterniti’s “This Must Be The Place,” a study of both an old secret cheese recipe and what the important of place and distance can mean to different people, Power’s “Excuse Us While We Kiss the Sky,” the best piece in the collection and a study of the art of Urbex and a portrait of it’s public face, Bradley Garrett, Sedaris’ “Now We Are Five,” a reflection on the loss of the author’s sister and the story of how he acquires a beachfront home on the banks of North Carolina, and Symmes’ “Born on the 9th of July,” a lesson on the history of South Sudan and a recounting of the author’s personal journeys throughout the new country. Overall, great collection. Can’t wait to read the following year’s edition.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dan Tasse

    I usually like this series; this one was kinda meh. 460 Days (Somalia, kidnapping) was chilling. Born on the 9th of July (South Sudan, from the perspective of governors) was an eye opening look at a place I know very little about. In the Abode of the Gods (Kawa Karpo) was cool, but maybe only because I've been near there. Excuse Us While We Kiss The Sky (urban exploration, London/Paris) is an exciting look at a world I barely know exists, from people whose ethos I admire. Some of the rest, not na I usually like this series; this one was kinda meh. 460 Days (Somalia, kidnapping) was chilling. Born on the 9th of July (South Sudan, from the perspective of governors) was an eye opening look at a place I know very little about. In the Abode of the Gods (Kawa Karpo) was cool, but maybe only because I've been near there. Excuse Us While We Kiss The Sky (urban exploration, London/Paris) is an exciting look at a world I barely know exists, from people whose ethos I admire. Some of the rest, not naming names, were kind of snoozy and navel gazing. Eh. Nothing that I hated, just that I feel like I could have skipped about half of them.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Renee

    Travel writing about some of the most unique experiences in the world from some of my favorite writers: Harrison Scott Key, David Sedaris, Gary Shteyngart, and collected by guest editor by number one travel writer Paul Theroux--what's not to love? All stories are highly unique, David Sedaris tells about their first family vacation in North Carolina after the death of his sister (Now We Are Five) to Sean Wilsey's experience of being sent to Italy as a teenager (after he was arrested for stealing) Travel writing about some of the most unique experiences in the world from some of my favorite writers: Harrison Scott Key, David Sedaris, Gary Shteyngart, and collected by guest editor by number one travel writer Paul Theroux--what's not to love? All stories are highly unique, David Sedaris tells about their first family vacation in North Carolina after the death of his sister (Now We Are Five) to Sean Wilsey's experience of being sent to Italy as a teenager (after he was arrested for stealing) to learn how to become a gondolier in Venice (Open Waters). A perfect selections of short stories that will have you yearning for the end of Covid.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Hal Brodsky

    Mixed bag of mostly very good writing. Perhaps becaue Paul Theroux edited this collection, it is represented by articles from New Yorker, OutDoors, and Harpers, rather than Conde Naste and Travel and Leisure. So, you don't want to read this if you are looking for ideas for your next trip. Mixed bag of mostly very good writing. Perhaps becaue Paul Theroux edited this collection, it is represented by articles from New Yorker, OutDoors, and Harpers, rather than Conde Naste and Travel and Leisure. So, you don't want to read this if you are looking for ideas for your next trip.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Erik Tanouye

    Got this at Book Off in NYC for $1.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tommy Boy

    I Love these anthologies. The stories are mostly short but still dense in information and the spirit of adventure that drives me to want to see what's over the next hill. I Love these anthologies. The stories are mostly short but still dense in information and the spirit of adventure that drives me to want to see what's over the next hill.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Brad Hodges

    I'm what you might call an armchair traveler. I've been to a little more than half the U.S. states, but only two other countries, and in one of them, Canada, I only managed to get to Windsor, Ontario. This is not by choice--I envy people who have traveled to exotic places, but then I wonder, is it the traveling or the anticipation of traveling that is the best part of it? In the Best American Travel Writing 2014, series editor Jason Wilson points out, "Travel writing, as we've come to know, is al I'm what you might call an armchair traveler. I've been to a little more than half the U.S. states, but only two other countries, and in one of them, Canada, I only managed to get to Windsor, Ontario. This is not by choice--I envy people who have traveled to exotic places, but then I wonder, is it the traveling or the anticipation of traveling that is the best part of it? In the Best American Travel Writing 2014, series editor Jason Wilson points out, "Travel writing, as we've come to know, is all about travail. We've been told that travel without suffering makes for a lousy story." Indeed, there are some hair-raising tales here, none so much as Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett's "460 Days," which details Lindhout's captivity by guerrillas in Mogadishu. Other trips I would gladly pass on are the one to Sarajevo by war correspondent Janine Di Giovanni in "Life During Wartime." Of course, that's her profession, but what makes a person go to the most dangerous places on Earth? She writes, "Room 437 would be my home, on and off, for the next three years: the mangy orange blanket, the plywood desk with cigarette burns, the empty minibar, the telephone on the bedside table that never rang because the lines were cut." But most of these pieces were about places that I would like to go to, and some to places I know quite well. One of my favorites was Peter Selgin's "My New York: A Romance in Eight Parts." He writes about a day he spent as a teenager in the city with his best friend, and it reminded me of days I spent in New York with my friend, Bob. He's close to my age, so he remembers the old New York that I do: "How I missed seedy Times Square! How I longed for the days before the peepshows succumbed to Walk Disney!" Other favorites were David Sedaris' "Now We Are Five," about his family renting a house on the North Carolina shore shortly after the suicide of his youngest sister; Gary Shteyngart's "Maximum Bombay," which covers his trip to the Indian city: "I've only been here for 10 days, but I have been chased out of a housing colony by gangsters, charmed by psychoanalyzed Bollywood stars, banged up after jumping out of a moving train, and eternally convinced of the prescience and wisdom of railroad parrots." I don't fish, but I understand why some people do after reading Bob Schachosis' "Sun King:" "In my dreams the piraja skyrockets out of its watery underworld, a piece of shrapnel from a submerged sun, like a shank of gold an archaeologist might find in the tomb of an Incan king." Nice simile. And then there's the fantasy of getting away from it all, which is detailed in Steven Rinella's "Dream Acres," in which the author purchases a ramshackle cabin on an Alaskan island: "It's a place where black bears gnaw mussels from the rocks in what might be described as our yard and killer whales pass by so close that you can hear them even with the door closed." I was fascinated by Tony Perrottet's "Birthplace of the American Vacation," which talks about William H. H. Murray, who wrote the first guidebook to the Adirondacks: "The American vacation was born--quite literally. The scions of New York City took to declaring that they would "vacate" their city homes for their lakeside summer retreats, and the term vacation replaced the British holiday in common parlance." Hands down my favorite piece was Harrison Scott Key's hilarious "Fifty Shades of Greyhound," the author's adventures while traveling by bus. I wish I could quote the whole thing, but here is one: "When I tell this story, sometimes people ask why, given my general state of mental health and fiscal stability, I would choose to ride to the other side of the North American landmass in the world's fastest portable toilet, passing through a gauntlet of unholy downtowns where I would likely be accosted by psychotic barnacles who desired to rape and eat my carcass behind an Americas Best Value Inn." This volume was guest-edited by Paul Theroux, perhaps the most pre-eminent travel writer working today, and he chose some great pieces. One inclusion, Elif Bautmann's "Poisoned Land," seemed better suited to the Best Science Writing book--it was about efforts to understand a disease partial to those living in the Balkans and seems out of place here. But other than that, this is a great collection of places to fantasize about going to, or staying very clear of.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Biblio Files (takingadayoff)

    Best American Travel Writing 2014 is a bit of a throwback to travel writing of a generation or two ago. I've always enjoyed travel writing, but when I first encountered it, it was shelved in the bookstores with adventure or biography. "Travel" books referred exclusively to guidebooks. It wasn't until the 1980s that I saw a bookstore with a shelf labeled "travel adventure." As the labels on the shelves changed to "travel narrative" and "travel essays" or "travel writing," the genre itself changed Best American Travel Writing 2014 is a bit of a throwback to travel writing of a generation or two ago. I've always enjoyed travel writing, but when I first encountered it, it was shelved in the bookstores with adventure or biography. "Travel" books referred exclusively to guidebooks. It wasn't until the 1980s that I saw a bookstore with a shelf labeled "travel adventure." As the labels on the shelves changed to "travel narrative" and "travel essays" or "travel writing," the genre itself changed so that practically anything could be considered travel writing, rather than the traditional treks to the Amazon or India or riding the Trans-Siberian Express. This seemed reasonable to me, since the "travel" part of the story was not as important as the "adventure" part, and that could take place anywhere, including your own back yard. But there's something special about the traditional adventure stories, battling the elements, encountering people from different cultures, eating unusual foods. Guest Editor Paul Theroux, has included a large dose of adventure travel, including reporting from war zones, and a harrowing report from a traveler who was kidnapped in Somalia. The wildernesses of Alaska, Argentina, and the Amazon are the settings for other pieces. But have no fear, there are also essays on more traveled places, such as Las Vegas, Paris, Venice, and Havana. My favorite article was a thoughtful essay by Thomas Swick about the loneliness of the travel writer, who generally travels solo. Normally, you'll only read about the highlights or the quirky characters the travel writer encounters, but between those experiences are long periods of wistfulness and melancholy, rarely expressed in writing. Swick reminds us that it isn't all adrenaline and diary-worthy conversation.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Joshua

    A wonderful collection of essays culled from the past year's travel writers. I've been reading these volumes since 2002 and am never completely disappointed. I use these books often in my Composition 2 classes, which focus around the loose theme of travel and culture. This volume had some wonderful essays, such as Power's "Excuse Us While We Kiss the Sky" (about urbex explorers in London's sewers and on Notre Dame), Lindhout/Corbett's 460 Days, about a traveler being abducted in extremist Somali A wonderful collection of essays culled from the past year's travel writers. I've been reading these volumes since 2002 and am never completely disappointed. I use these books often in my Composition 2 classes, which focus around the loose theme of travel and culture. This volume had some wonderful essays, such as Power's "Excuse Us While We Kiss the Sky" (about urbex explorers in London's sewers and on Notre Dame), Lindhout/Corbett's 460 Days, about a traveler being abducted in extremist Somalia, and Key's hilarious "Fifty Shades of Greyhound." Though almost every essay caught my interest (including a wonderful, if somewhat out of place contribution by Sedaris), I found the collection a little less diverse than in previous installments (esp. 2012). On the one hand, it made it easy to choose the 5 essays for my class, but there were many I felt that didn't really dig very deep into the subject or the culture and would have given us relatively little to discuss. However, the great essays are as good as anything I've ever read in the series, and 460 Days, in particular, was so gripping I read it twice on the spot.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mike M

    This collection of the "best" travel writing was an uneven reading experience for me. A lot of the articles included aren't what I considered to be travel writing, or at least not what I was expecting when I started. Several of the pieces were more like international news stories told with a feature flourish. Sure, to get to the international locale one would have to travel I suppose... but again, not what I was expecting. I found myself skimming and skipping through a large number of the select This collection of the "best" travel writing was an uneven reading experience for me. A lot of the articles included aren't what I considered to be travel writing, or at least not what I was expecting when I started. Several of the pieces were more like international news stories told with a feature flourish. Sure, to get to the international locale one would have to travel I suppose... but again, not what I was expecting. I found myself skimming and skipping through a large number of the selections, particularly as I neared the end of the book. It was a nice surprise to come across a piece by David Sedaris, whose essay collection I've always thoroughly enjoyed, even if the opening line was a bit of a gut punch. There were a few other articles I enjoyed, but most of them were rather forgettable or didn't grab me. One of the weaker articles was a mean spirited snarky account of a Greyhound bus trip. I don't doubt it was a hellish experience, but the piece's tone made it read as something more suitable to a personal blog than to a "best of" collection.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Brian Rogers

    Best America books, or any curated anthologies, are always hit or miss propositions. This one was more misses than hits. Too much depression location - not even real travel stories but just discussions of parts of the world that humanity is wrecking - more than the allowed number of "my me discuss my white guy middle age life crisis within this travel story, and several other pieces that just fell flat or didn't fit. The David Sedaris piece (there's always a David Sedaris piece) was a fine tale Best America books, or any curated anthologies, are always hit or miss propositions. This one was more misses than hits. Too much depression location - not even real travel stories but just discussions of parts of the world that humanity is wrecking - more than the allowed number of "my me discuss my white guy middle age life crisis within this travel story, and several other pieces that just fell flat or didn't fit. The David Sedaris piece (there's always a David Sedaris piece) was a fine tale about his family, but was a travel story on in that the framing sequence was them on vacation. The standouts to me were the first and last pieces - the former an account of a mysterious illness in the Balkans that just reeked of Nights Black Agents plot potential and the latter a story of a would be gondolier returning to Venice which was full of local charm and self deprecating wit. The rest? meh.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Grady

    I'm not fond of Paul Theroux's travel writing; apparently I'm also not so keen on his editorial tastes, to judge from the 2014 Best American Travel Writing, for which he helped screen pieces. Too many of these essays felt self-indulgent to me - especially, a number of essays by old white guys that ended up being much less about places than about their authors. That said, I was moved by Amanda Lindhout's "460 Days", about her captivity at the hands of kidnappers in Somalia; Tony Perrottet, "Birth I'm not fond of Paul Theroux's travel writing; apparently I'm also not so keen on his editorial tastes, to judge from the 2014 Best American Travel Writing, for which he helped screen pieces. Too many of these essays felt self-indulgent to me - especially, a number of essays by old white guys that ended up being much less about places than about their authors. That said, I was moved by Amanda Lindhout's "460 Days", about her captivity at the hands of kidnappers in Somalia; Tony Perrottet, "Birthplace of the American Vacation", about the Adirondacks; and Patrick Symmes, "Born on the Fourth of July", about the natural wonders of South Sudan.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten

    It's a collection. It's going to have stories that appeal more than others. I know this, I understand this. Perhaps other readers would love that there are multiple missives plucked from the pages of Outside. Personally, I'd buy the magazine if that's what I wanted to read. But the real reason I'm giving the collection a semi-low rating is that I can't understand what possessed them not just to choose the first story, but to place it at the beginning of the book. I'm fascinated by epidemiology, It's a collection. It's going to have stories that appeal more than others. I know this, I understand this. Perhaps other readers would love that there are multiple missives plucked from the pages of Outside. Personally, I'd buy the magazine if that's what I wanted to read. But the real reason I'm giving the collection a semi-low rating is that I can't understand what possessed them not just to choose the first story, but to place it at the beginning of the book. I'm fascinated by epidemiology, but calling this article "travel" was a stretch, and the story was downright uninteresting. I nearly didn't continue, and I think others might have the same opinion.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Bertaina

    Great Essays Au Train De Vie: That Voice You Hear This Must Be the Place Good Essays Elif Bautman Poisoned Land Life During War Time Fifty Shades of Greyhound 460 Days Love in the Time of Coca Excuse Us While We Kiss the Sky Now We are Five My New York: A romance in Eight Parts A Moving Experience Open Water Okay Essays Loving Las Vegas In the Abode of the Gods Born on the 9th of July Sun King The Last of Eden Maximum bombay Birthplace of the American Vacation Dream Acres Clear Eyed in Calcutta Christmas in Thessaloni Great Essays Au Train De Vie: That Voice You Hear This Must Be the Place Good Essays Elif Bautman Poisoned Land Life During War Time Fifty Shades of Greyhound 460 Days Love in the Time of Coca Excuse Us While We Kiss the Sky Now We are Five My New York: A romance in Eight Parts A Moving Experience Open Water Okay Essays Loving Las Vegas In the Abode of the Gods Born on the 9th of July Sun King The Last of Eden Maximum bombay Birthplace of the American Vacation Dream Acres Clear Eyed in Calcutta Christmas in Thessaloniki America The Marvelous meh Essays Amigos

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Once again, it's a mixed bag. I really enjoyed some of the pieces, others...not so much. I question that a lot of them are actually 'travel writing' or rather a social commentary or personal journey - or are those all one and the same? Half of them felt unfinished, but others were laugh-out-loud ("50 Shades of Greyhound") and beautiful ("This Must Be the Place") and inspiring ("Open Water" - which was the perfect piece to end the collection). Don't know that I'd recommend the whole thing. Once again, it's a mixed bag. I really enjoyed some of the pieces, others...not so much. I question that a lot of them are actually 'travel writing' or rather a social commentary or personal journey - or are those all one and the same? Half of them felt unfinished, but others were laugh-out-loud ("50 Shades of Greyhound") and beautiful ("This Must Be the Place") and inspiring ("Open Water" - which was the perfect piece to end the collection). Don't know that I'd recommend the whole thing.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Laura (booksnob)

    Took me awhile to finish this one. I just read about 1 story a week. I loved reading about the world and learning so much about the different countries and cultures and travel adventures. I think my favorite story was the one I was reading in the Amazon Rainforest and it just happened to be the story about one of the lost tribes called the ASA tribe living in the Amazon in Brazil. It was called The Last of Eden by Alex Schoumatoff. SO cool! Serendipity.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Renee

    Theroux's choices are darker than last time around. More than one piece centers around a war. It's definitely international, but not always what might obviously be called travel literature. Enjoyed it very much, and am following up with an expanded version of one of the stories--a journalist abducted and held hostage for over a year. Theroux's choices are darker than last time around. More than one piece centers around a war. It's definitely international, but not always what might obviously be called travel literature. Enjoyed it very much, and am following up with an expanded version of one of the stories--a journalist abducted and held hostage for over a year.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Dave Frye

    Very enjoyable stories. Excellent variety. One of the best years in this series. Sean Wilsey's concluding 'Open Water' was a perfect concluding article. Good representation of the quality of writing, interesting perspective and fascinating locations. Already looking forward to next year. Very enjoyable stories. Excellent variety. One of the best years in this series. Sean Wilsey's concluding 'Open Water' was a perfect concluding article. Good representation of the quality of writing, interesting perspective and fascinating locations. Already looking forward to next year.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Arja Salafranca

    Not the best in the series ... some pieces don't even read like travel narratives, although interesting. Many read more like journalese than travel. Nothing really stood out for me. A little disappointing. I'd give it a two and a half if I could. Not the best in the series ... some pieces don't even read like travel narratives, although interesting. Many read more like journalese than travel. Nothing really stood out for me. A little disappointing. I'd give it a two and a half if I could.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Murphy

    Gah! I teach travel writing and always adopt the newest Best. This is the least useful for me in 4 years. Lots of very heavy, strangely organized essays. It will be hard to sell these to my undergrads.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Fred Stuart

    Disappointing The essays chosen by the editors were very esoteric, not really suited to a tourist-type traveler. I was expecting Daisann McClain and I got Camus. Ironically I am a huge fan of Paul Theroux, one of the editors. He should perhaps stick to writing and give up editing.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    This was our book club pick and I read most of it, although I stopped halfway through some of the articles because I wasn't engaged. I liked the David Sedaris piece and another one about Greyhound buses but in general this book was not that great, or maybe travel writing just isn't my thing. This was our book club pick and I read most of it, although I stopped halfway through some of the articles because I wasn't engaged. I liked the David Sedaris piece and another one about Greyhound buses but in general this book was not that great, or maybe travel writing just isn't my thing.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth B Adams

    Best Travel Writing 2014 Reliably entertaining and thought provoking - this series is always worth reading. More than most of these "Best of..." Series, the editor of the year really puts his/her stamp on the choices. Best Travel Writing 2014 Reliably entertaining and thought provoking - this series is always worth reading. More than most of these "Best of..." Series, the editor of the year really puts his/her stamp on the choices.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sara Sams

    I really enjoyed most of the essays in here, specifically the Powers essay on Urbex and the Patterniti essay about Guzmán. I like that most of the essays included are exploratory in nature, asking questions that perhaps ultimately have no answer, but are worth the ride to try and figure out.

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