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Bowling Across America: 50 States in Rented Shoes

3.16  ·  Rating Details  ·  116 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
Inspired by his father’s unexpected passing, Mike Walsh, a 27 year-old Chicago advertising executive, quits his job to embark on a one-of-a-kind quest. The destination: bowling alleys in each of the 50 states. Though dubbed "career suicide" by colleagues, the endeavor soon touches a nerve among many people—from frustrated middle managers to radio talk show hosts to a woman ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 28th 2008 by St. Martin's Press
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May 06, 2010 Jenna rated it it was ok
Cool idea, disappointing execution. In terms of travel writing, I wasn't expecting epic literary musings a la Paul Theroux or Gretel Ehrlich, or even snort-milk-our-your-nose Bill Bryson-style hilarity. Just some laughs, some honesty, some quirky stories.

Sadly, the book reads like a boring school report, a mostly-colorless daily log of Walsh's experiences in bowling alley after bowling alley, dotted with the occasional awkward romantic encounter and regular reminders that he is oh-so-grateful t
Apr 29, 2009 Mark rated it it was ok
This is a light and fairly enjoyable book, but it could have been better. The author quits his desk job and travels the country with the goal of bowling in each of the 50 states. An appealing concept, but what could have been an interesting commentary on American bowling culture often degenerates into a travelogue describing the author's quest to meet up with old buddies and drink beer. At times, we learn more about these exploits than we care to. The author attempts to describe the various char ...more
May 21, 2009 Sarah rated it did not like it
Shelves: memoir
Finally picked this up again after reading the first few pages after the book release party. Which was held at a bowling alley, of course.

It hasn't bowled me over yet (*ahem*). But I feel obligated to finish it, since the author is the husband of a friend of a friend.

LATER: I give up. I got through the introduction and the beginning of his cross-country trip, but I'm not engaged. He's approaching his trip -- which in theory is a memorial to his father -- as a marketing event: press releases, int
Nov 06, 2012 Megan rated it it was ok
I really WANTED to love it, but state by state, I just didn't :( Two stars is a little harsh, but three would be generous. The story line & journey had a definite appeal, .... and the author grows on you BUT honestly it seemed lacking. Maybe it was too choppy between state borders? Maybe it was better suited for his web blog?

The only consistency was in talking about Weinermobiles, Miller High Life plugs, ex girlfriends or failed hook ups. I wish he'd spent more time writing about the senior
May 20, 2009 Michelle rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Bowlers and Beer Lovers
I loved the idea of this book - Traveling to each state to bowl and get an impression of the people in a very down to earth setting. Today I decided to abandon it. Had the book been more about the goal than the drinking and promotional stunts along the way, it might have been interesting. After 31 states and an honest effort, I have moved on. I have too much to read to constantly have this hanging over my head.
Feb 22, 2014 Tricia rated it did not like it
Not impressed. I found his stories to be inane and rather pompous. Also his little quips of insulting neighbors was uncalled for. Especially since he used real names without permission! The overall quest he embarked on was adventurous and a nice way to honor his father. But it became more about as others have stated, drinking, failed hook-ups and almost insulting the individuals that he chose to immerse himself with. As if he came to think he was better than them. Sorry Mike you're not. And agai ...more
Wendy Burks
Sep 28, 2011 Wendy Burks rated it really liked it
I give this book 4 out of 5 stars – it offers endearing (if few and far between), perspectives on life and places I otherwise wouldn’t be privy to. I almost set it down in favor of a long list of books I would rather read, but I had the feeling there was something worth reading right around the corner, and I was right. At about 2/3 the way through, MW started sharing more interesting insights that, w/ the book’s title, I would have thought would have been nonstop right from page 1!! I enjoy book ...more
Jan 20, 2012 Janine rated it it was amazing
This is a great story. It is a nonfiction story, but it's so much more than that. You can almost say it's about following your heart and being free. In a way it's about self discovery. Now I know what you're thinking, 'Bowling? Who would want to read a story about bowling?' To tell you the truth it's about a lot more than guy driving around the country aimlessly bowling. I mean not to sound cheesy or anything but, it's about his journey.

After the death of his father Mike Walsh sets out to fulfil
Jan 05, 2014 Mike rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of travel and bowling, guys who are into adventure stories
Recommended to Mike by: no one...found at bookstore and wanted to read.
Shelves: autobiography, travel
Most of us out there have a goal or bucket list to do some things we've always wanted to do. This guy, Mike Walsh, took one of his dreams, and decided to try and bowl in all 50 states...and this is his story.

The author quits his job and makes his way around the US (all 50 states) to try and bowl at least one game in each...along the way we meet many of his friends from different stages of life as he pursues his goal...

Recommended for anyone with a sense of adventure, but I bet those guys who are
Dec 19, 2009 Robyn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2008
What a great find! I'm a sucker for a story that combines bowling and the hope that comes with the open road. I had a great time while reading this book (although I could have gone without the dig on my home state). The story is quirky, the writing is clever and the outcome is exactly what you'd expect it to be.

I would have liked Walsh to have experienced more of each state - and the bowler in me would have liked him to have improved his average - but, this was a great first book and one that c
Mar 17, 2016 Shannon rated it really liked it
07/11: I really wanted to like this one and just couldn't get into it at first. But, it grew on me. He got the world of Navy Seahawk pilots right (Jacksonville, FL), and he nailed New Orleans. His drive across west Texas cracked me up. His never ending quest with the ladies was irritating, but you gotta love his response to a question about this from a reporter in Washington State, "That's been one of the surprises on this trip, Sterling. IT turns out that women really aren't that impressed with ...more
Aug 11, 2009 Erica rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009
I really liked this book - perhaps because I would love to just stop everything I'm doing, put life on hold, and travel the country like Mike did (but I'd probably never have the guts to do it). It read like a diary of the trip, including more than just his experiences at the various bowling alleys, which is what I'd hoped for before reading it. And I just loved the descriptions of the people he met along the way. It was a bit slow at times, yes; but overall it was an easy and enjoyable read.
Dec 28, 2014 Roderick rated it liked it
Shelves: how-odd, 2014
Meh this ones ok, when it started out it seemed so amazing but as I progressed the execution of the story seemed a bit flat and distraught. It's not the worst but I was expecting something good. Walsh does have a pretty good writing talent and he is in sync with his words but this story is as stale as bread. I'll read another on of his books and while this ones not anything to write home about it has a charm and style that's all it's own and for that I commend Walsh.

J Vera
Jan 02, 2016 VegasGal rated it it was ok
Shelves: ditched-2008-10
Yet another casualty of my reading endeavors. I thought it was quite interesting at first, but now I find myself avoiding reading it, as it just wasn't something I wanted to continually read about. I simply lost interest in the subject matter. Perhaps if I was more of a fan of bowling I would appreciate the writing and the purpose of the author's endeavors.
Jessica Banker
Aug 04, 2011 Jessica Banker rated it it was ok
this book was not only tacky, but lazily written. out of fifty states only about four were enjoyable to read. i believe it was the authors lack of interest in his task, and more of his interest in the opposite sex and beer, which he couldn't write about either. mike walsh... go back to your day job.
Apr 01, 2009 Joy marked it as to-read
This is the latest book recommended by my daily DearReader e-mails. Once in a while these recommendations really appeal to me, and this is one. A son sets out to retrace his dead dad's bowling dreams. Come on.....sappy? Yes. But in a sweet kind of way.
Aug 23, 2009 Doneen rated it liked it
This was an amusing, light read. I think it might appeal to anyone who ever spent some time bowling, which I did MANY years ago. It was long enough ago that I can no longer remember why I thought bowling was fun!
David Legault
Jan 02, 2012 David Legault rated it it was ok
Great premise, but after about 7 or 8 states every section sounded the exact sense of buildup so there wasn't a conclusion other than "I'm done now." Great idea, but needs more to become more than that.
Apr 27, 2013 Katie rated it it was amazing
Hilarious and surprisingly poignant,Bowling across America is an ode to Americans and America. I picked it up on a whim at the library and it is now one of my favorites. I would recommend it to anyone.
Um...what is this really about? Instead of learning about the adventures of traveling across the country, the author wrote about marketing ploys and the need for media attention. I don't think so.
May 12, 2009 Michael rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs, travel
A really great read. A guy wants to bowl one game in every state. Talks about the people he meets along the way. Think of it as Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives in bowling allies across America.
Mar 26, 2009 Heidi rated it really liked it
This was a good book, and you don't need to be as much of a bowling dork as I am to enjoy it. It does get a little slow in parts. But overall, it's humorous and a good read
Mandy Huot
Mar 21, 2013 Mandy Huot rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading about his experiences throughout all the states, and the people he ran into. I also enjoyed the fact that he explained why he was doing what he was.
Frank Taranto
May 24, 2009 Frank Taranto rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir
The title explains what happens in the book. What made me enjoy it is all the people the author met during his trip. He made to trip to honor his father's memory.
Nov 21, 2008 Emily rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2008, library
I thought this book was fun... I would have never gone and bowled all over the US, but hearing about Mike's travels makes me want to go see other places.
Feb 20, 2013 Jerry rated it really liked it
Great book. Enjoyed the travel
commentary as much as the bowling! Was wishing for more.
Jun 05, 2009 Gregory rated it it was ok
Shelves: did-not-finish
CLunky. I usually like stories like this but this one simply didn't appeal
May 25, 2009 Shalaka rated it really liked it
highly entertaining and even has some history lessons in it
May 25, 2012 Linda rated it liked it
He is an entertaining speaker!
Lucy marked it as to-read
Jul 06, 2016
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