The early debut edition of the best-selling “America’s
Best…” Series, this volume of writing travels the world from being kidnapped in Uganda to searching for the next in line to the Dalai Llama to hitch-hiking in Cuba to delivering water in Northern Australia. The selection, chosen by Bill Bryson (who I usually adore) covered the gamut from serious to funny (but nothing
completely hilarious like Peter Hessler’s writing in a later edition). Most of the writing was from 1999 (since this was published in 2000), and was from mostly magazines (although a blog would pop up every now and then).
One thing that struck me was that 90% of the authors were male which I found a bit irritating. What? You could only find three articles penned by women that were considered worthy? Really??
But apart from that, the writing was strong and the articles were enjoyable. It’s highly unlikely that I would ever get to travel to Tibet as one of the writers did, or risk my life to stay the night in Central Park (as another person did). But I did get to experience quite closely through the first-person writing of these essays (or articles?). As the introduction by series editor Jason Wilson writes:
“Having a travel writer report on particular things, small things, the specific ways in which people act and interact, is perhaps our best way of getting beyond the clichés that we tell each other about different places and cultures, and about ourselves.”
A very fun way to get exposed to different experiences in different cultures and ideal for the armchair traveler. Also excellent for the slight ADD inherent in traveling by plane – good for picking up and putting down; long enough to suck you in, short enough to provide breaks to look out of the window. 🙂
(I bought this secondhand.)