Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Better Than Fiction: True Travel Tales from Great Fiction Writers” as Want to Read:
Better Than Fiction: True Travel Tales from Great Fiction Writers
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Better Than Fiction: True Travel Tales from Great Fiction Writers

3.41  ·  Rating Details ·  569 Ratings  ·  98 Reviews
- An exciting new anthology of travel literature - Features international authors, including Alexander McCall Smith, Joyce Carol Oates and DBC Pierre - Brings to life the idea that travel can inspire, entertain, enlighten and change lives
Paperback, First, 320 pages
Published November 1st 2012 by Lonely Planet (first published October 1st 2012)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Better Than Fiction, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Better Than Fiction

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Carol Hislop
Sep 10, 2013 Carol Hislop rated it it was amazing
Reading travel literature is one of my favourite things to do. Unfortunately, some authors seem to believe that the subject matter, I.e the location, makes up for poor writing skills. Imagine how pleased I was to find this book of true travel stories written by really good authors. I loved it and can't recommend it highly enough and it illustrates that the quality of writing is more important than a destination. Good writers can bring any subject to life.
May 30, 2013 Sadie rated it liked it
I liked some of the stories, but felt they were more bogged down with emotion than about quirky travel gaffes or interesting encounters. A couple made me cry, which is a good sign that the story connected, but not the global romp one might hope to get.
Ellen Pomes
Mar 04, 2013 Ellen Pomes rated it liked it
The writing was good, the stories...some good, some not. Overall, not a book I would recommend buying. Borrow it from the library.
Mar 22, 2013 Michelle rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
What a great collection.Travel stories by great writers. What more could you ask for? I live vicariously through travel essays and I love them. It is fascinating for me to learn about another culture, even if it is second-hand, plus I love reading about how that experience changes the writer.

Most of the time, I'm jealous of the person's experience and opportunities, but there are some stories in here that make me think, "Have you lost your frickin' mind?!" [Sudan: The Scarface Express by Joe Yo
Apr 01, 2013 Beverly rated it really liked it
I picked this up from the new non-fiction shelf at my library-- fully expecting to read a few tales but not ALL of them while I waited for books on hold to arrive. Instead, I read them all. True, some are better than others but I made note of at least six authors I'd like to learn more about and I admired the bravery of many more. This was a vicarious trip around the world.
I just. No. You guys! You made it sound so good. And then it wasn't. At all. There are only a handful of good or decent stories. The others are anecdotes that either lack structure or make too much of nothing or self-aggrandize the author. I am so disappointed.
Jun 08, 2013 Miriam rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
Like any book of short stories some were stronger than others, but overall it was an enjoyable read.
Vera Marie
Jan 08, 2013 Vera Marie rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
In his introduction to Better Than Fiction True Travel Tales From Great Fiction Writers, Don George says that despite owning a collection of guidebooks, two novels on Greece, “..proved to be the best guides of all, immersive, enlightening introductions to the landscape, people, and culture I was discovering….As I have learned over and over in my wanderings, some of the best travel writing is fictional.” He certainly will get no argument here.

The book, Better than Fiction, a collection of 30+ tra
I’ve had this sitting in my Kindle for so long I’ve forgotten how I came to have it. I probably picked it up on a promotion or as a freebie, because I’m not usually a big fan of this kind of travel essay collection. Surely I was attracted by the subtitle -- these were, after all, “great fiction writers”, so the bar was a little higher. In the end, it’s still rather a mixed bag, some quite memorable, others less so, and quite a few that don’t escape what to me are the central perils of travel wri ...more
Jul 10, 2013 Bettie☯ marked it as wish-list
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Renee
to find - thanks for the hattip Renee
Iain Hamill
Oct 07, 2013 Iain Hamill rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Maybe all the more so as I picked it up as a free book at a popular coffee shop! Inspiring and well written.
Bill DePhillips
Mar 04, 2013 Bill DePhillips rated it it was ok
Very inconsistent but has a few gems. Many are not stories so much as anecdotes. My favorites were Joyce Carol Oates, DBC Pierre, and Frances Mayes.
Apr 04, 2013 Grace rated it liked it
Some of the travel tales were a pure pleasure to read, others were mediocre.
Jun 07, 2016 Greg rated it liked it
Some lovely stories in here. Quite good for a work book.
This book is a Lonely Planet collection of short stories - all travel related, and all by authors recognised as fiction writers. There are thirty two stories, some of the authors are well known to me, others I have never heard of. The authors are from varied places, but largely - UK, USA, Australia & NZ.

The stories are set in varied places, and are varied in their complexity and intensity - some are more about emotion and situation, others are about the adventure, the travel and the experien
Amy Lafleur
Nov 27, 2016 Amy Lafleur rated it liked it
It's always difficult to rate a collection of stories. This is a collection of brief travel stories written by fiction writers, some known better than others. This collection spans travel experiences from exploring uninhabited areas of Alaska, to avoiding having to pay an exorbitant bride on a train in Sudan, to strife in China, trying to avoid pickpockets in Italy, touring San Quentin Prison in California, and exploration in Antarctica. The exciting thing is to live and travel vicariously throu ...more
Feb 02, 2017 Michael rated it liked it
I read this and the follow-up "Better Than Fiction 2" out of order. I liked the second one a lot more. This is still not bad, though.

There were two items that seemed surprising, where the story recounted didn't put the author in a particularly good light. In one the author was trying to make a point, but in the other, I don't think the person really understood the consequences of her actions for the local person. Odd.
Greg Z
Mar 18, 2017 Greg Z rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed, travel
A great travel book by a singular author can offer one a great vacation from home. But this mixed bag didn't have the same effect on me as would a singular vision in which the author's life might change, the writer's perspective of the world might be illuminated (and hopefully for the better). Charles Finch, one of the author's represented here among these stories, sums travel up best for me: "I guess the lesson is you can't go everywhere. But you should still go where you can." I so that I'm al ...more
Bobby Johansen
Mar 09, 2017 Bobby Johansen rated it liked it
Ok in short doses... Often the stories were too short though. You didn't have any time to get into a story before it was over. I had a hard time reading the book straight through.
Jan 18, 2017 Smitha rated it liked it
Travel is a set of impressions, and what writers write of the journeys they made are their personal interpretations of the experience. Similarly, the reader too is prejudiced by his need to be seduced into the places that he has probably only dreamed of. So it is a mixed bag of stories that this volume has.

KEIJA PARSSINEN's lines, 'The rituals of departure came easily to me; I was an expatriate child' prepares us for her Saudi childhood and nostalgia.

Frances Mayes, wrties as brilliantly as she
Jun 23, 2015 Amy rated it liked it
Shelves: popsugar2015
Overall this is a fun read, however like many other reviewers have stated some of the short stories are better than others. I wish they would have ended with a stronger story for the collection, the story that was chosen I feel would have seemed better at the beginning. I probably would have bumped it to four stars if it had a stronger anchor. Some of the recounts deserve 5 stars, while a couple deserve 1 or 2. (some people just don't excel with short stories)

I did appreciate that at the start o
Jul 17, 2013 RebeccaS rated it liked it
This book was enjoyable and had many good stories. I loved the idea and many of the stories were written by authors I really like. I''m happy to say most of these authors did not let me down. There were some stories I really loved: (view spoiler) However, some stories were so long-winded that I lost interest ...more
Sep 21, 2013 Bianca rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
As with any anthology of short stories, some authors were better than others.
While I loved some of these travel tales, others were less impressive and could have been easily skipped through.
It made sense to listen to this as an audio book, as travel tales are traditionally meant to be told. However on occasion the narrators let me down with their hokey accents that were supposed to reflect the nationality of the author - but if you actually know the author's voice or a true Australian accent it
Odd Catrina
Este libro reune relatos de diferentes autores de ficción, sobre alguna anécdota memorable durante un viaje en el extranjero. Repleto de historias conmovedoras, que provocan sonrisas y sobretodo que te transportan a parajes desconocidos. Entre los cuentos, destaca el de Isabel Allende, quien a través de una historia corta y ligera de leer, expone de forma clarísima el gran cambio que un instante de un viaje a la India hizo por su vida tras la trágica muerte de su hija Paula. - Ana Pau

Cynthia K
I am always thankful for audio books. They help me pass the time on my daily commute and they are often the primary source of my "reading" material. I also believe that my experiences of many books have been enhanced by the great performances of the men and women who give voice to authors' words.
This recording, however, has been a disappointment. The stories are okay. I enjoy some more than others, but that is to be expected with an anthology. However, I find the readings of the stories to be a
Doug Canfield
Oct 01, 2014 Doug Canfield rated it it was ok
My two-star rating doesn't mean there's anything wrong with this collection. The writing is as professional as one would expect from this auspicious group of authors. My lower rating, however, has to do with the stories themselves, which I found rather dull -- sort of second-drawer material that these writers could have banged out in an afternoon. My expectations were higher given the marque level of the contributors. Nonetheless, I still read two-thirds of the book, so don't let my rating disco ...more
Mar 13, 2013 Becca rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2013
I had high expectations for this book and that may have partially contributed to this score. There were a few of the stories that I really enjoyed, such as the one about visiting San Quintin, but otherwise most of the stories were mediocre, at best. Many of them lacked any sort of plot or direction but rather were just a free flow of thoughts that ended abruptly with no real resolution or obvious conclusion. For the most part the writers should stick with fiction because apparently that's their ...more
Feb 11, 2014 Belinda rated it liked it
Very enjoyable read filled with escapism. It was great to share unique travel experiences through the eyes of aunthors and it has defintiely introduced me to some new writers. The downside was that sme locations were a bit repetitive and there was a huge focus on unusual locations, middle aged crises in India, journeys of white privilege etc and short trips too. I don't think good travel writing necessarily needs ot begin in the weirdest most obscure locations. Having siad that I loved the piece ...more
Apr 06, 2016 Alice rated it liked it
I liked this book a lot, but I didn't like it as much as I did its follow-up volume Better Than Fiction 2, which was recently published. This volume is the original in the series. For some reason these essays didn't grab me as much as the ones in the second volume. That being said, this was also a very enjoyable trip (from home) through a variety of cultures. What amazing courage these travelers have. I was particularly struck by the essay about Antarctica, with my son in mind (he's traveled mor ...more
Kim Lanza
Jul 06, 2013 Kim Lanza rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I was drawn to this book because of its travel thread. However, it was sampling 33 authors that made this book so enjoyable. I started with those I knew like Isabel Allende, Frances Mayes, Joyce Carol Oates, & Tea Obreht then moved onto unfamiliar names & intriguing titles. As I result, I became acquainted with some new authors & am already seeking out some of their other fiction. Allende's "Who Wants a Girl?" was one of my favorites. Amazing what she can evoke in only a few pages.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Maiden Voyages: Writings of Women Travelers
  • The Best American Travel Writing 2012
  • There's No Toilet Paper . . . on the Road Less Traveled: The Best of Travel Humor and Misadventure
  • The Best American Travel Writing 2009
  • Expat: Women's True Tales of Life Abroad
  • I Should Have Stayed Home: The Worst Trips of Great Writers
  • The Best American Travel Writing 2006
  • Sushi and Beyond: One Family's Remarkable Journey Through the Greatest Food Nation on Earth
  • Lights, Camera..Travel!
  • Walking Home: A Poet's Journey
  • A Walk for Sunshine: A 2,160 Mile Expedition for Charity on the Appalachian Trail
  • A Journey of One's Own: Uncommon Advice for the Independent Woman Traveler
  • Paris Was Ours
  • Ox Travels: Meetings with Remarkable Travel Writers (Ox Tales)
  • The City at Three p.m.: Writing, Reading, and Traveling
  • The View from the Ground
  • A Bolt from the Blue: The Epic True Story of Danger, Daring, and Heroism at 13,000 Feet
  • The Best Women's Travel Writing 2011: True Stories from Around the World

Share This Book

“What is the most generous thing to do in this case?” 2 likes
More quotes…