Books | March 2017
Edited by best-selling author Bill Bryson, The Best American Travel Writing 2016 seeks to answer the ever-lingering question of why we seek to travel through the lens of various contributors and their fascinating adventures all over the world. Whether you are a globetrotter or a homebody, there’s something captivating about imagining far-off places. The exotic appeal of the vast unknown is hard to resist, even if only in your imagination. There are so many reasons why human beings are drawn in by the idea of travel, but perhaps the most lasting of those reasons is to have a memory to hold onto and a story to tell. The Best American Travel Writing 2016 seeks to answer the ever-present question of just what the allure of traveling to new places really is. The book is the latest edition in the enduring series by the same name. This volume is edited by Bill Bryson who is the well-known author of several books including A Walk in the Woods and The Road to Little Dribbling. The foreword is by Jason Wilson who is the series editor and is also the author of Spaghetti on the Wall as well as some other books.
The introduction to the book, written by Bryson, seeks first to dispel and comment on some contemporary assumptions about traveling, including the notion that it just isn’t quite what it used to be. He also addresses the fact that many folks think there just is not as much interest to see as there once was. “A second enduring assumption of travel writing is that the world has become dispiritingly homogenized and isn’t nearly as interesting as it used to be,” he writes. He recalls the bygone era when each and every European nation was culturally exceptional in comparison to its neighbors. “Every country had its own cars, movies, restaurants, and stores, just as it had its own architecture, history, and language,” he continues. As his third point of common assumption about travel writing, Bryson notes that many believe it is “something of a doomed art.” But even with all this said, he reminds readers that there are still great reasons to get out there and see what our world has to offer. In short, he tells readers, that reason is that travel writing “reminds us just how multifariously interesting that world can be.”
Then the book launches into 24 unique and multifaceted tales from all over the world. From Havana to Alaska and beyond, this book will send readers on a fast-paced adventure right from the start. These are stories by various writers that have each been published separately in various publications ranging from The Washington Post Magazine to The New Yorker to Smithsonian Journeys. The various tones and styles make the book a fun and engaging read which takes readers seamlessly from one exciting destination to the next. The tales are short, making it easy to find yourself galloping through the pages as you hop around the globe. The detailed descriptions and expert storytelling bring every location to life in an instant. The South even makes an appearance in Paul Theroux’s, “Return of the Mockingbird” on page 232.
For readers with a deeper interest in learning more about this talented group of writers, the contributors’ notes at the conclusion of the book offer additional information about the authors. Notable traveling writings from the previous year are included in a list from Jason Wilson in the back of the volume. Whether your wish is to visit far-off places or just feel that you did, The Best American Travel Writing 2016 is a perfect choice for all.
The Best American Travel Writing 2016
Rediscover the joy of travel with this
insightful collection featuring writings
Review by Shana Raley-Lusk