The Best Women’s Travel Writing: New York Times Book Review

I’ll be honest: I never thought I’d see a book of mine reviewed in The New York Times. I wanted to see it happen, of course—who wouldn’t?—I just never thought I would. But happily, I thought wrong, because the wonderful actor-director-travel-writer Andrew McCarthy penned a glowing review of it! So now, I’ve officially seen it all.

Here’s what he said:

THE BEST WOMEN’S TRAVEL WRITING, Volume 11: True Stories From Around the World (Travelers’ Tales, paper, $19.95). For more than 20 years, Travelers’ Tales has been publishing books that might best be described as the literary equivalent of a group of travelers sitting around a dim cafe, sipping pints or prosecco and trading their best stories. With more than a hundred titles currently in print, this publisher has carved out a valuable niche in the travel world.

"In story after story, the refreshing absence of bluster and bravado, coupled with the optimism necessary for bold travel, create a unifying narrative that testifies to the personal value and cultural import of leaving the perceived safety of home and setting out into the wider world."

The latest book’s editor, Lavinia Spalding, hungry for travelers who “go with an open heart” and have “the inclination to practice human kindness, a sincere intention to build pathways of understanding and a willingness to be transformed,” read nearly 500 submissions before settling on the 31 stories that make up this diverse collection.

In the opener, Zora O’Neill finds herself drawn away from a resort’s placid blue waters and toward the newly formed refugee camps that have sprung up on the Greek island she and her family visit every year. Like so many of the stories here, “On the Migrant Trail” is told with simple grace. O’Neill’s account demonstrates once again that history’s first draft is often written by the intrepid traveler.

In the opener, Zora O’Neill finds herself drawn away from a resort’s placid blue waters and toward the newly formed refugee camps that have sprung up on the Greek island she and her family visit every year. Like so many of the stories here, “On the Migrant Trail” is told with simple grace. O’Neill’s account demonstrates once again that history’s first draft is often written by the intrepid traveler.

In a different vein, Samantha Schoech offers a hilarious yet ultimately disquieting yarn about spending a week in Venice — sans children and husband — with a gal pal and having perhaps too fine a time. Pam Mandel, in a poignant essay, deals with grief in — of all places — Waikiki. And a trip to Singapore reminds Abbie Kozolchyk of that most important of all travel maxims — call your mother. In story after story, the refreshing absence of bluster and bravado, coupled with the optimism necessary for bold travel, create a unifying narrative that testifies to the personal value and cultural import of leaving the perceived safety of home and setting out into the wider world.


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But time is one thing we have been given, and we have been given to time. Time gives us a whirl. We keep waking from a dream we can’t recall, looking around in surprise, and lapsing back, for years on end. All I want to do is stay awake, keep my head up, prop my eyes open, with toothpicks, with trees.” –Annie Dillard