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In his introduction, guest editor Andrew McCarthy says that the best travel writing is “the anonymous and solitary traveler capturing a moment in time and place, giving meaning to his or her travels.” The stories in The Best American Travel Writing 2015 demonstrate just that spirit, whether it is the story of a marine returning to Iraq a decade after his deployment, a w In his introduction, guest editor Andrew McCarthy says that the best travel writing is “the anonymous and solitary traveler capturing a moment in time and place, giving meaning to his or her travels.” The stories in The Best American Travel Writing 2015 demonstrate just that spirit, whether it is the story of a marine returning to Iraq a decade after his deployment, a writer retracing the footsteps of humanity as it spread from Africa throughout the world, or looking for love on a physics-themed cruise down the Rhone River. No matter what the subject, the writers featured in this volume boldly call out, “Yes, this matters. Follow me!”   The Best American Travel Writing 2015 includes Iris Smyles, Paul Theroux, Christopher Solomon Patricia Marx, Kevin Baker, Benjamin Busch, Maud Newton Gary Shteyngart, Paul Salopek,  and others ANDREW MCCARTHY, guest editor, is the author of the New York Times best-selling travel memoir The Longest Way Home. He has served as an editor at large at National Geographic Traveler and been named travel journalist of the year by the Society of American Travel Writers. He is also an actor and director. JASON WILSON, series editor, is the author of Boozehound: On the Trail of the Rare, the Obscure, and the Overrated in Spirits and the digital wine series Planet of the Grapes. He has written for the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the Philadelphia Daily News, and many other publications. He is the founding editor of The Smart Set and Table Matters.


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In his introduction, guest editor Andrew McCarthy says that the best travel writing is “the anonymous and solitary traveler capturing a moment in time and place, giving meaning to his or her travels.” The stories in The Best American Travel Writing 2015 demonstrate just that spirit, whether it is the story of a marine returning to Iraq a decade after his deployment, a w In his introduction, guest editor Andrew McCarthy says that the best travel writing is “the anonymous and solitary traveler capturing a moment in time and place, giving meaning to his or her travels.” The stories in The Best American Travel Writing 2015 demonstrate just that spirit, whether it is the story of a marine returning to Iraq a decade after his deployment, a writer retracing the footsteps of humanity as it spread from Africa throughout the world, or looking for love on a physics-themed cruise down the Rhone River. No matter what the subject, the writers featured in this volume boldly call out, “Yes, this matters. Follow me!”   The Best American Travel Writing 2015 includes Iris Smyles, Paul Theroux, Christopher Solomon Patricia Marx, Kevin Baker, Benjamin Busch, Maud Newton Gary Shteyngart, Paul Salopek,  and others ANDREW MCCARTHY, guest editor, is the author of the New York Times best-selling travel memoir The Longest Way Home. He has served as an editor at large at National Geographic Traveler and been named travel journalist of the year by the Society of American Travel Writers. He is also an actor and director. JASON WILSON, series editor, is the author of Boozehound: On the Trail of the Rare, the Obscure, and the Overrated in Spirits and the digital wine series Planet of the Grapes. He has written for the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the Philadelphia Daily News, and many other publications. He is the founding editor of The Smart Set and Table Matters.

30 review for The Best American Travel Writing 2015 (The Best American Series ®)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Biblio Files (takingadayoff)

    This year's travel writing is guest edited by Andrew McCarthy and it's a fat collection of over 300 pages, many of the pieces quite long. It's mostly from the usual sources, several articles from The New Yorker and Outside, a few from The New York Times Magazine, Smithsonian, National Geographic. Only one of the pieces is from an online-only publication (JMWW), which seems odd in 2015. I understand that the guest editor selects from a larger list of essays that the series editor provides, and th This year's travel writing is guest edited by Andrew McCarthy and it's a fat collection of over 300 pages, many of the pieces quite long. It's mostly from the usual sources, several articles from The New Yorker and Outside, a few from The New York Times Magazine, Smithsonian, National Geographic. Only one of the pieces is from an online-only publication (JMWW), which seems odd in 2015. I understand that the guest editor selects from a larger list of essays that the series editor provides, and this larger list contains all of two articles from online-only publication. In any case, this volume has a nice variety of articles, ranging around the world and featuring travelers rather than adventurers, so it's light on tales of derring-do or voyages to the bottom of the sea and such. Instead we get Peter Hessler profiling his trash collector in Cairo, Kevin Baker travels around the U.S. by train, Stephen Connely Benz makes us glad we are not in Moldova, Patricia Marx sets sail on an anti-luxury cruise aboard a freighter, Tim Neville goes to a ski resort in North Korea. Tony Perrottet visits a vineyard in China, Rachael Maddux returns to Dayton, there are two articles exploring Timbuktu, and Gary Shteyngart stays in his hotel room. Paul Theroux previews his latest book Deep South. And my favorite was the short and elegant essay about Iris Smyles' science-themed cruise. Enough variety to satisfy most travel writing fans.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Donna Luu

    It's been better: I just don't agree with guest editor McCarthy's choices (like Theroux). I did enjoy The Sound of Silence, The Happiness Metric, Tales of the Trash, A Tale of a Tub, The Great Pleasure Project, Mr. Nhem's Genocide Camera, Ship of Wonks, and Baked Alaska. It's been better: I just don't agree with guest editor McCarthy's choices (like Theroux). I did enjoy The Sound of Silence, The Happiness Metric, Tales of the Trash, A Tale of a Tub, The Great Pleasure Project, Mr. Nhem's Genocide Camera, Ship of Wonks, and Baked Alaska.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    This is a fantastic collection! Edited by Andrew McCarthy (yes, of Pretty in Pink fame, though he's a great travel writer, too), it sings. There are lots of great articles and only one or two I'd skip. Overall, very thought-provoking stuff! Once again, the biggest drawback to these collections is the fact that the writing is separated from the images that originally accompanied it in most cases. Those images add a lot. So even if you read the text and appreciate it in this book form, I'd recommen This is a fantastic collection! Edited by Andrew McCarthy (yes, of Pretty in Pink fame, though he's a great travel writer, too), it sings. There are lots of great articles and only one or two I'd skip. Overall, very thought-provoking stuff! Once again, the biggest drawback to these collections is the fact that the writing is separated from the images that originally accompanied it in most cases. Those images add a lot. So even if you read the text and appreciate it in this book form, I'd recommend searching out the articles again online afterward so you can see if the places are as you imagined them. Here are my favorites of the bunch: - “The Sound of Silence” by Lisa Abend https://www.afar.com/magazine/the-sou... A great look at Scotland. The simple, but thrilling narrative left me wondering how anyone could be brave enough to hike alone. - “Lawrence’s Arabia” by Scott Anderson https://www.smithsonianmag.com/histor... An excellent look at the true story behind the movie legend. - “21st Century Limited” by Scott Anderson https://harpers.org/archive/2014/07/2... A nice look at modern train travel and where we’ve come with it. - “Land of the Lost” by Stephen Connely Benz https://books.google.com/books?id=fvK... A fascinating look at the country of Moldova. One of my favorite articles of the collection, and a surprising one at that. - “Today Is Better Than Tomorrow” by Benjamin Busch https://harpers.org/archive/2014/10/t... Another favorite. Very interesting to get a Marine’s perspective on Iraq upon his return after 10 years. - “Tales of the Trash” by Peter Hessler https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/20... This is the best article of the collection, in my opinion. Eye opening. Modern Egypt as told through its garbage. - “Hail Dayton” by Rachael Maddux http://www.oxfordamerican.org/magazin... The Scopes trial and modern tourism in Dayton, Ohio. Who would have thought that one of the year’s most compelling travel articles would be about Dayton? - “A Tale of a Tub” by Patricia Marx https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/20... What it’s like to travel by cargo freighter. For fun. Now there’s a story you don’t hear every day! - “The Great Pleasure Project” by Tim Neville https://www.skimag.com/ski-resort-lif... Another of my very favorites in this collection. Here’s a rare look at North Korea’s super fancy ski resort, which opened in 2014. - “Mr. Nhem’s Genocide Camera” by Lauren Quinn https://www.believermag.com/issues/20... (You’ll need to subscribe or purchase to read the whole article.) Tourism dollars based on the Khmer Rouge genocide. Awful and awfully fascinating. - “Baked Alaska” by Christopher Solomon https://www.outsideonline.com/1924416... An adventure you’re unlikely to have in the Alaskan wilderness. - “The Soul of the South” by Paul Theroux https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel... A look at an overlooked part of the United States. Honorable Mention: “Ashes to Ashes,” “My Timbuktu,” “Camino Real,” “Out of Eden Walk” (this one is a very interesting slow journalism experiment), “Ship of Wonks.” Note: “Berlin Nights” was one I couldn’t finish. It’s the story of contemporary techno clubs in Berlin, but it’s a lifestyle I can’t stomach.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    I am, and remain, a big fan of anthologies such as the yearly Best American Series. This years Travel selection while having some interesting pieces does not reach the levels of some of those previous. Some of the more interesting pieces in the collection include: Lawrence of Arabia by Scott Anderson : this selection drafted from the author's book on the subject was very strong. I have actually read the complete book and given it five stars. 21st Century Limited by Kevin Baker is an interesting p I am, and remain, a big fan of anthologies such as the yearly Best American Series. This years Travel selection while having some interesting pieces does not reach the levels of some of those previous. Some of the more interesting pieces in the collection include: Lawrence of Arabia by Scott Anderson : this selection drafted from the author's book on the subject was very strong. I have actually read the complete book and given it five stars. 21st Century Limited by Kevin Baker is an interesting piece about rail travel in the United States. An enthusiastic supporter of this kind of travel it is also an entitlement of government policies that act, if anything, as a discouragement of the rails. " Today is Better Than Tomorrow " by Benjamin Busch was a wonderful piece by the author about his return to Iraq long after American troops had cleared out. With no fatigues to be worn, grown out hair, and no longer clean shaven he was able to visit areas and people he previously met as an invader. The difference in his experience is vast. Tales of the Trash by Peter Hessler was a New Yorker piece I had read at the time of it's original publication. A lengthy but well worth it piece about how the garbage business works in Cairo it showed that a mix of mafia and waste management along with ingenuity is not limited to the New Jersey Waste management business Hail Dayton is n exploration by Rachel Maddux of the city of Dayton, Ohio's attempt to market the home of the Scopes Monkey Trial as a tourist attraction. Gary Schtyngart offers a funny article titled " Behind Closed Doors at Motels" where he explores why the people next door in a hotel always seem to have a better sex life than you. Paul Salopek's Out of Eden Walk is perhaps the best piece in the collection. A wonderful excerpt ( I assume ) of a National Geographic piece chronicling his attempt to follow the trail of humankind out of Africa, through the Middle East, into Asia and down the Pacific Coast of the America's. This was a truly educational piece that offers some much needed perspective on the importance, or lack thereof, of what happens in our daily lives. Lastly, excerpted from his most recent book, Paul Theroux's The Soul of the South has the author traveling into the backwoods and by ways, the forgotten towns, the desolate and dying villages too far from the interstate, where the real South still exists for all its good, and bad.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Zuska

    Last year was the first time I read one of the "Best American Travel Writing" volumes. I was blown away and looked forward to this year's edition, which I saved to read on my December vacation. I had no idea what REAL travel writing was like. If your experience with travel writing has been confined to interchangeable articles on whatever city the airline you're flying is urging you to take their plane to this month, or "Top 25 Beaches of the World!" pieces you've browsed in a doctor's office, th Last year was the first time I read one of the "Best American Travel Writing" volumes. I was blown away and looked forward to this year's edition, which I saved to read on my December vacation. I had no idea what REAL travel writing was like. If your experience with travel writing has been confined to interchangeable articles on whatever city the airline you're flying is urging you to take their plane to this month, or "Top 25 Beaches of the World!" pieces you've browsed in a doctor's office, then you, like me, are in for a real revelatory treat if you dip into this genre. No better place to start than with one of the "Best American" compilations, and the 2015 volume is really magnificent. Very carefully curated, somehow these 24 essays by different authors published at different times in different publications, dealing with travel from Dayton, Tennessee to Berlin to Jerusalem to Timbuktu, manage to weave a whole cloth with thread running through of desert highways and railroads, Lawrence of Arabia, death and dying, memory and forgetting. It is utterly absorbing. You don't have to sit on a beach to enjoy reading this - snuggled under a blanket with a cup of tea, this book will be an excellent companion. (If it ever gets cold enough in the northeast this winter to snuggle under a blanket...)

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jill

    Finished: A book of non-fiction The Best American Travel Writing 2015 edited by Andrew McCarthy In the winter, I love travel articles for the vicarious experience of seeing the world through the eyes of others, and this collection was outstanding. The exploration of travel on train, plane, foot, by car, camel, and donkey, and a look at places on the globe I will probably never visit was at times moving and at other times hilarious. I found the brief "A Doubter in the Holy Land" by Maud Newton and Finished: A book of non-fiction The Best American Travel Writing 2015 edited by Andrew McCarthy In the winter, I love travel articles for the vicarious experience of seeing the world through the eyes of others, and this collection was outstanding. The exploration of travel on train, plane, foot, by car, camel, and donkey, and a look at places on the globe I will probably never visit was at times moving and at other times hilarious. I found the brief "A Doubter in the Holy Land" by Maud Newton and "Out of Eden Walk" interesting comparisons of areas in conflict. The piece called "My Timbuktu" I learned from, was horrified by "Mr. Nhem's Genocide Camera", but in the way that leaves you with much to think about. I have to share one quotation: "Walking is falling forward. Each step we take is an arrested plunge, a collapse averted, a disaster braked. In this way, to walk becomes an act of faith. We perform it daily: a two beat miracle- an iambic teetering, a holding on and letting go. For the next seven years I will plummet across the globe..." Paul Salopek in "Out of Eden Walk" This was a five star book for me, and I would recommend it highly.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Pearse Anderson

    Best Travel Writing 2015 earns five stars. Each essay and article revealed a new aspect to the world I had not fully seen before or had not fully thought about. The voices creatively varied between essays, and I appreciated McCarthy's placement of each piece: thematically similar, overarching complaints or insights, similar locations (Timbuktu, etc.). The collection was definitely something to get through, but I know I'll be returning to many of these pieces and places (Berlin, Cairo, and Alaska Best Travel Writing 2015 earns five stars. Each essay and article revealed a new aspect to the world I had not fully seen before or had not fully thought about. The voices creatively varied between essays, and I appreciated McCarthy's placement of each piece: thematically similar, overarching complaints or insights, similar locations (Timbuktu, etc.). The collection was definitely something to get through, but I know I'll be returning to many of these pieces and places (Berlin, Cairo, and Alaska, for example). Good stuff. Saw some points for improvement in terms of sentence structure, but hey, that's journalism.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Murphy

    This collection seems very uneven.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Rob Schmults

    Wow - either it was a tough year or they don't pick them like they used to. Wow - either it was a tough year or they don't pick them like they used to.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Scott Bilodeau

    Just finished this great book not so much of travel essays but rather of essays inspired by travels. Drill-downs, if you will. The pieces focus on history and culture and weird features and events such as a music concert in Timbuktu, Mali; a highway built in the nether region of Brazil to connect the Atlantic and Pacific, a journey into the remote and least-traveled national monument in Aniakchak, Alaska; a visit with a representative from the former Pol Pot regime in Cambodia who is seeking fun Just finished this great book not so much of travel essays but rather of essays inspired by travels. Drill-downs, if you will. The pieces focus on history and culture and weird features and events such as a music concert in Timbuktu, Mali; a highway built in the nether region of Brazil to connect the Atlantic and Pacific, a journey into the remote and least-traveled national monument in Aniakchak, Alaska; a visit with a representative from the former Pol Pot regime in Cambodia who is seeking funding for a museum; a driving tour through the deep rural Southern US; and many others. As with any collection of stories some are much better than others and as a bit of a travel writer myself, I was really attuned to the writers’ styles as well. It’s funny how just the right amount of authentic humor makes an account flow so easily whereas even a twinge too much makes the essay annoying and almost intolerable. Some, like the author of the essay about the trans-South American Highway, made an essay about what at first thought doesn’t seem all that interesting to me actually very intriguing and compelling, whereas others made what could have been a fascinating exposé on an exotic land something I couldn’t wait to be done with. One of my favorites was of the woman who had traveled to Timbuktu to see a famed music concert in the early 2000s. She contrasts this with the political and religious strife as has been witnessed in the past few years even and struggled to reconcile the two, becoming upset at one point when she talks to someone who wasn’t able to even consider that there is anyone other than terrorists and extremists there. It so clashed with her personal experience, which was practically the exact opposite. Another - also in Mali, dealt with people who risked their lives in a complicated effort to save books and ancient texts from Islamic fundamentalists who were seeking to have them all destroyed. In this day and age of Google Images, it was fun for me to go online and look up where these locations were and what they look like. The Alaskan National Monument search yielded amazing pictures and when the essay references a former volcano within a volcano, I totally knew what the author was referring to! The book is part of a larger, yearly series of travel-related essays by American authors (that have been published in a number of various American publications). I look forward to checking others out in the future. I felt like I learned a lot and it sparked my curiosity about some places and even topics I had never considered in depth.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    I have to confess that, going in, I didn't have a full appreciation of what "travel writing" is. I had in mind the Rick Steves guides -- here is what to see, and not see -- places to stay, yummy things to eat. And that is all good. But, finishing this anthology, I love the breadth and expanse of travel writing. Each of these pieces had in its narrative structure -- somehow, someway -- travel. Someone went on some type of trip. And, along the way, the writers tell stories, so we get to meet peopl I have to confess that, going in, I didn't have a full appreciation of what "travel writing" is. I had in mind the Rick Steves guides -- here is what to see, and not see -- places to stay, yummy things to eat. And that is all good. But, finishing this anthology, I love the breadth and expanse of travel writing. Each of these pieces had in its narrative structure -- somehow, someway -- travel. Someone went on some type of trip. And, along the way, the writers tell stories, so we get to meet people -- in the last piece, folks living in poverty in the rural South. We get a bit of history (more than a bit) -- in one piece, the wild story of TE Laurence. We get a test of culture -- in one piece, the death traditions of India. And we get to learn things we didn't knew before -- who actually knew what Timbuktu was/is -- a city on the edge of the Sahara -- the last stop into the desert, and the first stop on your way out. And I think that's what I really like about travel writing -- I learn something with each story -- about people and places around the world and throughout time -- I loved that as a kid, and I love it now even more. So 5 stars, for what I learned, and because this book introduced me to a genre that I will want to explore more. Oh, and it is edited by Andrew McCarthy, travel writer, and star of St Elmo's Fire. That should be worth at least half a star on its own.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Brad Hodges

    "I’m obsessed with blank spots on the map, the places nobody goes," so writes Christopher Solomon in "Baked Alaska," one of my favorite pieces in the latest (to me) edition of The Best American Travel Writing 2015. The editor is Andrew McCarthy, yes the same Andrew McCarthy who was once sort of part of the Brat Pack, but is now a travel writer and editor, and he gets why we read travel. This book is full of far-flung adventurers, not people looking for best deals on hotels, or what day is the be "I’m obsessed with blank spots on the map, the places nobody goes," so writes Christopher Solomon in "Baked Alaska," one of my favorite pieces in the latest (to me) edition of The Best American Travel Writing 2015. The editor is Andrew McCarthy, yes the same Andrew McCarthy who was once sort of part of the Brat Pack, but is now a travel writer and editor, and he gets why we read travel. This book is full of far-flung adventurers, not people looking for best deals on hotels, or what day is the best to fly on. As McCarthy puts it, "Back in Sir Richard Burton’s day, tales brought back from darkest Africa had real import. Freya Stark’s journeys through Persia were a revelation. Ernest Shackleton’s escape from Antarctica with every soul intact was the stuff of real heroism. How do we top that? The 10 best beaches in the Caribbean right now(!)?" The articles contained here have our heroes off to distant places like a luxury ski resort in North Korea ("The Great Pleasure Project," by Tim Neville); Moldova, which sounds like it's a made-up country but is not (Steven Connelly Benz's "Land of the Lost"); Varanasi, India, where people come to die ("Ashes to Ashes," by David Earley); Patricia Marx taking a cargo ship in "A Tale of a Tub," and not one but two articles about Timbuktu, which when I was a kid was usually referenced as the most remote place on Earth (and where there are, yes, blue people). Those two articles are "My Timbuktu," by Adriana Paramo and "Bonfire of the Humanities" by Patrick Symmes, and both mention the same music festival held in Mali (Timbuktu's home country) and the devastating effects of radical Islam. There are also some interesting journeys, such as Paul Theroux's tour of the American South in "The Soul of the South," which includes beautiful passages such as "Mary T opened a bottle of blueberry wine from a winery in Harpersville, and though it was a warm noontime, a fly buzzing behind the hot white curtains in the small back dining room, we stood and clinked schooners of the wine and toasted our meeting—the ancient Mary T, the nearly blind Randall, and myself, the traveler, passing through" and such helpful observations as "No one on earth—none I had ever seen—is more polite, more eager to smile, more accommodating and less likely to step on your toe, than a person at a gun show." Kevin Baker travels the U.S. by train ("21st Century Limited"), which is still possible: "American train stations were once the most magnificent in the world. Even in the smallest towns, they tended to be little jewels of craftsmanship. In bigger cities, they were the first monumental modern buildings erected without reference to God or king, built by the people to move the people." Needless to say. not so much anymore, especially if you've been to the new Penn Station. And then there's Paul Salopek's "Our of Eden Walk," when he sets out to walk from Ethiopia's Rift Valley, where Homo Sapiens first appeared, to Tierra del Fuego in the southern tip of South America, the last place they migrated to. This would seem to be impossible, and I wonder if he made it, as the article ends with him in Syria, with still a long way to go. But back to Alaska. My two favorite articles are this one, in which an outdoorsman and two others travel to the least-visited of National Park locations. "Nobody comes to the Alaska Peninsula by accident. Even fewer come here for fun." I also loved Lisa Abend's "The Sound of Silence," who has the same spirit: "when I read a British newspaper story about Inverie, the only town on the Knoydart peninsula, one of the most untouched parts of the Scottish Highlands, I thought it might be just the cure for my misanthropy." Seems reasonable. She goes on: "It would be a 16-mile trek through steep and rocky terrain, and at hike’s end, I would be in a town with a population of roughly 100 people, no cell-phone coverage, and a pub billed as the most remote in mainland Britain." Sould like bliss. The collection also has a few humorous pieces, such as "Ship of Wonks," by Iris Smyles, where she goes on a cruise for physics buffs in the attempt to meet a fella, "Behind Closed Doors at Hotels," in which Gary Shtengyart explains: "When I travel alone, when my only companion and source of affection is the hypoallergenic wedge of pillow with some silly hotel monogram on it, when the jet lag and the unfamiliar sun make me feel like a dust speck blown across the earth (an alien dust speck that will never know the love of another human being again), when all these planets align, one thing will happen: someone in the room next to me will be having very loud sex." I also enjoyed the somewhat comical but somewhat serious "Hail, Dayton," which is all about Dayton, Tennessee, where the Scopes Monkey Trial took place, and there is a re-enactment every year. Rachel Maddux writes, "In the Beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, or maybe he didn’t, but either way vast ribbons of peat came to rest under what became the foothills of Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau, and in time the peat became coal, and later the railroads arrived, along with mines and coke ovens, and near one lazy arc of the Tennessee River workers built homes to return to after their long days of burrowing and burning, and the homes became a town, and the town was called Dayton." So bravo to Andrew McCarthy, who understands that travel writing is about taking risks and going to the empty spots on the map, and not to the latest resort in Ibiza. Well done, and I'm sorry I mistook you for Andrew Shue.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    I have never read "travel writing" before. I gave this book a try, and it turns out I enjoy it quite a bit. Some of the articles in this collection overlapped a little (LOTS of mentions of Lawrence of Arabia, and two articles talking about concerts in the desert of Timbuktu) but still an enjoyable and informative reading experience. Some of the stories were a little vulgar and, I'm confident, fabricated (the article about overhearing sex in neighboring rooms in hotels, in particular, seemed made I have never read "travel writing" before. I gave this book a try, and it turns out I enjoy it quite a bit. Some of the articles in this collection overlapped a little (LOTS of mentions of Lawrence of Arabia, and two articles talking about concerts in the desert of Timbuktu) but still an enjoyable and informative reading experience. Some of the stories were a little vulgar and, I'm confident, fabricated (the article about overhearing sex in neighboring rooms in hotels, in particular, seemed made up), but overall, the book was educational.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Many stories about travel all over the world, many places I did not know. How Airbnb works; life in Greenland now due to global warming; a ski resort in North Korea; a vineyard in China and many more. Includes stories by many of my favorite authors: Bill Bryson and Gary Shteyngart. This is not a book about the Top 10 Cruises to the Caribbean or wines of Provence.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    These are always interesting collections, kind of like taking the Banff film festival with you in book form, but it doesn't seem like too many of the stories from this 2015 collection are going to stick with me long-term. These are always interesting collections, kind of like taking the Banff film festival with you in book form, but it doesn't seem like too many of the stories from this 2015 collection are going to stick with me long-term.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    A definite comfort read. A few of the stories really stuck with me. I mean, come on... Mermaids? Genocide museums? A man devoting years of his life to walking around the world? WALKING? Humans are a fascinating species

  17. 4 out of 5

    Becca

    These make me want to travel everywhere.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ryuta Oshikiri

    A handful of really neat stories from around the world. Some of the essays are so-so but for the large part it's easy reading A handful of really neat stories from around the world. Some of the essays are so-so but for the large part it's easy reading

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Swisher Ray

    One of the better anthologies in this series.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bry

    Some dull choices that focused more on history than travel- but some better ones in the middle- like the Egyptian garbage guy story. Not every story is for everyone so skim pick n chose.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Joy

    This book was read for my 2016 Reading Challenge Around the World in 80 Books Clearly, this is the year I will learn to embrace and appreciate short stories. I’ve read more compilations of short writings, fiction & nonfiction this year so far, than perhaps in my whole life. And have been pleasantly surprised each time! The Best American Travel Writing 2015 was no exception, it was a fantastic collection of American travelers exploring lands near and far. I almost intentionally read this at a sl This book was read for my 2016 Reading Challenge Around the World in 80 Books Clearly, this is the year I will learn to embrace and appreciate short stories. I’ve read more compilations of short writings, fiction & nonfiction this year so far, than perhaps in my whole life. And have been pleasantly surprised each time! The Best American Travel Writing 2015 was no exception, it was a fantastic collection of American travelers exploring lands near and far. I almost intentionally read this at a slow pace, because there was just so much to take in. From a quirky tale about a mermaid theme park in central Florida to a somber piece on death & life in Varnasi, India, this collection captured highs and lows of travel, life abroad & at home, and the human connection we find as we travel. Adriana Paramo’s writing on a music festival in the desert of Mali reminded me of the joy of music festivals I attended in my own hometown. Peter Hessler’s Tales of the Trash gave unique insight into the people and the culture of Egypt through his conversations with his building’s trash collector. Many of these writings touched on war & terrorism & devastation around the world, from a writing on Cambodia’s genocide by Lauren Quinn to the war in Iraq from Benjamin Busch, a former soldier returning the Iraq he fought years later. My favorite piece from this collection comes from Paul Salopek, entitled Out of Eden Walk. Salopek, a longtime journalist, is attempting something impossible. a seven year walk starting in Ethiopia, where some of the oldest human remains have been found and continuing the trail of human civilization from Africa to the Arabian peninsula, the Middle East, across Asia to North America and finally down to the tip of South America. He began his trek in 2013, which is where this writing starts. Months of writing and walking or “seven hundred miles of words”, Salopek captures the methodical pace at which human civilization emerged, and how over the centuries has changed & evolved. It’s a fascinating project that I’ll continue to follow on his blog, http://outofedenwalk.nationalgeograph.... Overall, I adored this collection. I admittedly skipped through one or two that didn’t capture my interest, but the majority are delightful, full of whimsy and depth. Read and enjoy!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Christine Zibas

    I first began to notice the name Andrew McCarthy in the travel magazines I subscribe to. Could this be the same Hollywood heart throb from "St. Elmo's Fire" and "Pretty in Pink"? Turns out that McCarthy has created a new career for himself, one that's just as impressive as his previous life on the big screen. This time, however, he's found himself on the road along with the rest of us vagabonds, collecting stories along the way and learning that "it is of course in the leaving that we afford our I first began to notice the name Andrew McCarthy in the travel magazines I subscribe to. Could this be the same Hollywood heart throb from "St. Elmo's Fire" and "Pretty in Pink"? Turns out that McCarthy has created a new career for himself, one that's just as impressive as his previous life on the big screen. This time, however, he's found himself on the road along with the rest of us vagabonds, collecting stories along the way and learning that "it is of course in the leaving that we afford ourselves the opportunity to be found." What McCarthy and Series Editor Jason Wilson have found here is some of the best travel writing in the business. Clearly, there's not a bad story in the bunch, whether you're reading about garbage collection in Cairo or the underwater mermaids of Weeki Watchi in Florida. Each story is infused with the personality and experiences of the traveler, and that's what makes these articles so compelling. Each year a renowned travel writer (think Paul Theroux or Frances Mayes) wades through a year of travel writing to select the best of the year past. You won't find any subtle (or not-so-subtle, for that matter) endorsements of hotel chains or airlines, no featuring of tourist board-sanctioned beaches and resorts that so often appear as travel journalism. No, the stories here are just that. More important for their tales than locations and often mixed in with the nearly universal feeling of being a ''stranger in a strange land" phenomenon that anyone who has stepped out of their comfort zone while on the road feels. Whether you're interested in Bhutan or Tennessee, there's something here for everyone who loves to think of themselves as travelers. If you don't feel like going somewhere after you read this compilation, you can truly count yourself among the homebodies of the world.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kerry

    Some travel writing--and some travel writing anthologies--have a narrow view of travel. They concentrate on places only few people visit and define "adventure" (that specific category "adventure" travel being the only legitimate form of travel) as something rife with danger, requiring extreme physical exertion or specials skills, all while striking a tone of self-interest and superiority. Not so with The Best American Travel Writing 2015. While some of the writers do challenge themselves to phys Some travel writing--and some travel writing anthologies--have a narrow view of travel. They concentrate on places only few people visit and define "adventure" (that specific category "adventure" travel being the only legitimate form of travel) as something rife with danger, requiring extreme physical exertion or specials skills, all while striking a tone of self-interest and superiority. Not so with The Best American Travel Writing 2015. While some of the writers do challenge themselves to physically demanding journeys or are under some measure of danger, not all fall into that category. Some are even able to find the "adventure" in perfectly staid environments. What they all share, however, is an interest in the environment and culture that they have chosen to visit, using their perspectives as outsiders to plumb the history and mechanics of a place and its people, even if that "place" is as moveable as the Amtrak railway or the memory of the dessert. Some of these articles are deeply moving, some are essays on the more hilarious aspects of travel, and many are fantastic pieces of journalism. All show the disconnect between the traveler and the place visited but the interconnectedness of humanity. The writer does not only concentrate on personal exploits or mistakes, but takes the reader, level by level, into the foreign place. While the reader is introduced to the same experiences as the writer, the reader also has the benefit of the writer's research and and interviews, organized in a way that creates clear navigation through a subject that the reader might know little about.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Andy Kristensen

    I felt like this was one of the better 'Best American Travel Writing' collections that I've read recently. Highlights include Lauren Groff exploring human mermaids deep in the heart of Florida at a state park known as Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, Paul Salopek deciding to embark on the walk of a lifetime in the heart of Africa, following the trail of the birth of humanity and the subsequent spreading of humans across the globe on the most epic walk undertaken by a human ever, and an absolute I felt like this was one of the better 'Best American Travel Writing' collections that I've read recently. Highlights include Lauren Groff exploring human mermaids deep in the heart of Florida at a state park known as Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, Paul Salopek deciding to embark on the walk of a lifetime in the heart of Africa, following the trail of the birth of humanity and the subsequent spreading of humans across the globe on the most epic walk undertaken by a human ever, and an absolute gem of an essay by Paul Theroux (no surprise there for Constant Readers of travel writing) exploring the complicated history and racial divisions still existing today in the Deep South, traveling across some of its poorest and remote areas in Alabama and Mississippi backwoods towns. There were zero 'bad' essays in this collection, and the great essays are really that phenomenal. Great selection by Andrew McCarthy for this year's essays.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    While I'm not sure what should constitute travel writing I can recognize good writing when I see it and in this collection I see it in every story. The writing here, as in most nonfiction, is "denser" than fictional novels with dialog driven stories. I can't begin to describe who much I enjoyed this collection of stories that will bring you to almost every continent, to diverse cultures, in the hands of wonderful guides. I've enjoyed various editions of the "Best American" series over the years While I'm not sure what should constitute travel writing I can recognize good writing when I see it and in this collection I see it in every story. The writing here, as in most nonfiction, is "denser" than fictional novels with dialog driven stories. I can't begin to describe who much I enjoyed this collection of stories that will bring you to almost every continent, to diverse cultures, in the hands of wonderful guides. I've enjoyed various editions of the "Best American" series over the years - essays, travel, science, mysteries, and non-required reading. They are now available in ebook format from Amazon and well worth your time.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Cyndie Todd

    Starting with this book in the series, I am inspired to pursue travels and document them even if just for myself. I’ve already purchased and started reading two more from the series: 2016 edition edited by Bill Bryson and the 2008 edition edited by Anthony Bourdain. Several of these stories really stayed with me, truly memorable and absorbing. A few others fell flat or did not capture my interest. On the whole, a great book to carry around in my tote to read during lunch or a break. I was previou Starting with this book in the series, I am inspired to pursue travels and document them even if just for myself. I’ve already purchased and started reading two more from the series: 2016 edition edited by Bill Bryson and the 2008 edition edited by Anthony Bourdain. Several of these stories really stayed with me, truly memorable and absorbing. A few others fell flat or did not capture my interest. On the whole, a great book to carry around in my tote to read during lunch or a break. I was previously reading The Best American Essays but I have switched to this series as it holds much more excitement and fascination for me.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sherman Langford

    Four stars because I really enjoyed much of the book. Visited many varied places, learned a lot. But often wondered if certain pieces really were the best. A lot of the writing is about depressing hopeless places. Seemed to have been chosen because they had the "right" political view (always always leftist leaning). But really a fascinating and captivating tour of the globe. Favorite pieces on 1) Alaskan peninsula 2) Dayton Tennessee (scopes trial), and 3) Lawrence of Arabia Four stars because I really enjoyed much of the book. Visited many varied places, learned a lot. But often wondered if certain pieces really were the best. A lot of the writing is about depressing hopeless places. Seemed to have been chosen because they had the "right" political view (always always leftist leaning). But really a fascinating and captivating tour of the globe. Favorite pieces on 1) Alaskan peninsula 2) Dayton Tennessee (scopes trial), and 3) Lawrence of Arabia

  28. 5 out of 5

    Renee

    Very good collection Did not know what to expect, but McCarthy chose well. He has earned his second career, and could clearly have made it his primary path. Pieces on the middle east mix with fluff about hotel sex, and it all works. Up there with Kincaid and Mayes for readability and flow of the selections.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Maggie Skarich Joos

    This is a very interesting anthology of pieces mostly from corners of the globe I'll probably never go to. (Don't feel bad for me-don't really have the interest.) That said, it shared fascinating details about these secret places (of squalor). Skipped through a couple longer pieces. Already used others for small talk. Educational and entertaining! This is a very interesting anthology of pieces mostly from corners of the globe I'll probably never go to. (Don't feel bad for me-don't really have the interest.) That said, it shared fascinating details about these secret places (of squalor). Skipped through a couple longer pieces. Already used others for small talk. Educational and entertaining!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Thompson

    Excellent compilation of travel writing stories that take place in various places around the world. Though there are a few that drag on a little longer than they should, more than 3/4 of the book is fantastic. If you like traveling or like learning about different traveling experiences, you'll enjoy this book. Excellent compilation of travel writing stories that take place in various places around the world. Though there are a few that drag on a little longer than they should, more than 3/4 of the book is fantastic. If you like traveling or like learning about different traveling experiences, you'll enjoy this book.

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