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The Best American Travel Writing 2007 (Best American Travel Writing)

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  279 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
“Travel is not about finding something. It’s about getting lost -- that is, it is about losing yourself in a place and a moment. The little things that tether you to what’s familiar are gone, and you become a conduit through which the sensation of the place is felt.” -- from the introduction by Susan Orlean

The twenty pieces in this year’s collection showcase the best trave
Paperback, 307 pages
Published October 10th 2007 by Mariner Books
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Jan 23, 2009 Kristen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This anthology overall was an immense disappointment, and I think much of the blame lies on the shoulders of the editor, Susan Orleans. This collection was so hit and miss (mostly miss), that I questioned her judgment for being to tell a good story from a bad one. At the root of my disappointment is my struggle with the question, “What is a travel essay?” If you left your couch and wrote about it, does that qualify as a travel essay? Or what about a piece on the legislative process of making a t ...more
Nov 03, 2010 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So far, my favorite piece in this volume is Elizabeth Gilbert's essay about her walking trip through Provence, in a 125 mile area around Avignon. I'm very familiar with this area of France, so the essay was great to read for me. Gilbert makes some nice comments about the holding on of French culture, and she has a great way of showing how great French food really is, and how French people are much more than meets the eye (they are quite modest and a little shy and soft-spoken, but somehow come o ...more
Sep 15, 2015 HeavyReader rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel, bookmooch
This is one of the better Best American Travel Writing collections I've read. There's a good mix of light, happy stories and interesting but depressing stories.

One of my favorites was "Long Day's Journey into Dinner" by Elizabeth Gilbert. This one's about walking the Grande Randonnee in France. Although I have practically nothing in common with Gilbert and her traveling companion (he spoke French, I've got nothing but English; they had money to eat sumptuous meals at expensive restaurants and sl
this was a good volume in HoughtonMifflin's "Best American Travel Writing" series. i liked it enough that i decided to buy the rest of the series, which started in 2000. (the 2011 volume comes out in October.)

there's a good variety of articles here. one of the most engrossing was Nando Parrado's tale of how he survived and found rescue during the famous Andean plane crash that killed many members of the Uruguayan soccer team. this was one of the shorter entries, but gripping, nonetheless.

Michael Savage
This is the first time I have read travel literature in collection form (i.e. different essays that are not written by the same author). I actually really enjoyed several selections from this collection. My favorite piece was by Elizabeth Gilbert entitled "A Long Days Journey into Dinner" in which she chronicles an unusual way to see France: walking and eating by way of rural trails which connect small towns. Lots of good food was had and wine consumed over a little under a 2 week excursion. The ...more
Jun 06, 2009 Robyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
I appreciated this collection because just as it introduced me to authors I wouldn't have normally sought out, it introduced me to places I wouldn't have wanted to read about / travel to. But, I had a hard time really liking this book as a whole. I think it was tough to read this as a collection of 'travel writing' because the topics and pieces didn't match what I expect from 'travel writing'. I'd hardly call some of the entries travel essays..or even travel related stories, apart from the point ...more
Dec 30, 2007 Shek rated it liked it
I had to postpone reading this because it was my bathroom reader (more information, please!) and while it was sitting atop the toilet tank (there's that lovely imagery again!), it was destroyed by the partial disintegration of my building, specifically the plumbing thereof.

My review thus far, four articles in: I like everything but the Rick Bass number, and that's because it's not very, uh, travely. It's more a rehash of the cliches of the American west, told as a tone poem. I think Susan Orlea
Sep 25, 2012 Shana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finished The Best American Travel Writing 2007, edited by Susan Orlean earlier this week. I love travel writing as a genre and have even dabbled in it myself. My favorite in this collection was by Kevin Fedarko and from Esquire. “High in Hell” is about khat, “…a psychotropic shrub that provides the overwhelming majority of Djboutian men with their daily drug fix.” I think I liked this one the best because it covered an area that I am not familiar with and also described the experience and signif ...more
May 07, 2012 Mitch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
Like just about all anthologies, if you like the genre (and why would you be reading it if you didn't?) you will read good selections and others that don't do much for you. The same rule applies here.

Oddly though, the person who selected the pieces for inclusion chose a few that aren't really about travel at all. For example, one was about surviving a real plane crash. The non-travel pieces were pretty compelling, regardless.

A small observation here: it is quite possible to read an armchair trav
Aug 01, 2015 Silvia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was recommended by a friend who lent it to me. I enjoyed some of the stories very much, in particular: High in Hell by Kevin Fedarko, Long Day's Journey into Dinner by Elizabeth Gilbert, Do not disturb by Ann Patchett, The Incredible Buddha Boy by George Saunders and Hutong Karma by Peter Hessler. They were all very interesting though, even if the theme "travel" wasn't always obvious in some of them. Circle of Fire was more political than travel-themed but I found it fascinating. I'd r ...more
Aug 10, 2013 Sandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really would not want to have any of the outrageous adventures or go to any of the strange, dangerous places detailed in these amazing stories. That's because my idea of a vacation is lazing around by the pool drinking things involving rum and little party umbrellas. Fortunately I won't have to because I can just read about them in these great anthologies. These writers were amazing. Could not put it down and will have to buy the whole series. It may even inspire me to go someplace adventurous ...more
Candace "Kiki"
Apr 02, 2008 Candace "Kiki" rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in politics and travel
Shelves: travel
I've always liked Susan Orleans and she made a great editor for this year's collection. Was Kevin Fedarko's story about chewing khat in Djibuti crazy or what? I thought that was the one one ficticious one she included, initially.
Jonathan Stern's spoof of his Lonely Planet apartment was clever, but I felt like it was too long and didn't exactly belong next to really brilliant pieces like Andrew Solomon's amazingly good reporting on Libya and Qaddafi's son. The one on Brazil's favelas - it's immen
Genni Gunn
Apr 05, 2009 Genni Gunn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this. Most of the essays are great, informative, interesting. One in particular I took a great dislike to -- Elizabeth Gilbert's "Long Day's Journey into Dinner." She is so condescending of the French, and incredibly ignorant in her appraisal of them. Definitely made me dislike her. Some of my favourite essays: "Arieh" by Reesa Grushka, "The Long Way Home" by Nando Parrado (a harrowing journey), and "Birth of a Nation" by Ian Parker.
Oct 13, 2007 Martha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: travel, non-fiction, own
This is the first time I've read any of the "Best American..." series and now I'm hooked. All of the essays were incredibly fascinating. In one book I got to visit France, Djibouti, Antarctica, Libya, Brazil, Vietnam, Argentina, China, British Columbia, Nepal, and several other places. It is great reading for gloomy winter days.
Jan 27, 2008 Gillian rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I hated this book, because I thought the title was deceiving. I assumed it was about the act of traveling but the editor just picked stories that happened to take place in other countries. To me that is not "travel writing". And several of the stories were from Gourmet magazine - what does that have to do with travel writing?
Hunter Johnson
Mostly good essays; I really liked the ones on qat trade in Djibouti and a walking-and-eating tour of French villages. Some head-scratchers too: a decades-old set of journal entries, and a Readers-Digest-like "Drama in Real Life" recount from one of the survivors of the decades-old Andes flight disaster.
Jan 14, 2008 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A few of the stories were particularly amazing in this edition. My favorite: "High in Hell" by Kevin Fedarko originally published in Esquire. If you just want to read this hilarious/heart-wrenching/informative/lovingly written tale you can check it out online at:

Aug 29, 2008 Amy rated it really liked it
I'm teaching essays from this book this semester. More than half of the collection's fantastic. "Magic Mountain," which is about a trash site in Manila where a whole society has sprung up on the slopes, is my favorite-- it's moving, thought-provoking, well-written. There's a day care center at the bottom of the mountain of trash, a gift from Martin Sheen. The author has a knack for details.
May 24, 2008 Danielle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
I think more people need to read the introduction to the book to really understand the editorial decisions within. All of them were about the act of traveling, about what it does to you and foreign-ness.
My favourites so far?
A Brief and Awkward Tour of the End of the Earth
Saigon Boys
Lost in America
Hutong Karma
and the one that really gripped me was 'The Long Way Home'
Eric Heitzman
Feb 03, 2008 Eric Heitzman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As someone who travels a lot, I find it interesting to read stories from others who not only travel more than I do, but who seem to do it better, get into hotter water, and generally have interesting things to say about interesting places.

I've really enjoyed reading this one and laughed out loud on several occasions. It's an easy and relaxing read.
May 25, 2009 Jvwalling is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I think you can never go wrong with travel writing. Reading other's perspectives of places they've been and experiences they've had is one of my favorite things. So far, I really love Elizabeth Gilbert's walking tour of France, and am discovering some other writers that I normally wouldn't read. Good stuff.
Jan 31, 2008 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great read - picked this up while traveling, and love most of it. There were a couple of the short stories that I didn't dig, but overall, they were easy to get into and informative, while many had some good laughs.
Jul 26, 2008 Jodi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am loving this book! So far I have been to Antartica, France, the West, South Africa and the Andes mountains. When I don't feel like I have a huge chunk of time to devote to reading, I can read one of the exceptional essays here and walk away a little lighter and enlightened.
Apr 30, 2012 Tara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As always, a great selection of essays. Be forewarned: there is one essay from "Outside" magazine written by a survivor of the 1972 Andes plane crash. It is an amazing story, but it is not for those who are easily disturbed.
Charles M.
This is the first Best American Travel Writing I have ever read; and this book is just fascinating, interesting and intriguing all at once. After reading will certainly want to take up traveling as a hobby!!!
Mar 23, 2008 Tracy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So far I love it - there's a great piece on walking through France by Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love).

Yes, I'm reading 2 books at once...
I enjoy this series immensely. The 2007 compilation was not as good as some others, but was still a fun read. The story of the Manila trash mountain was interesting and the journey to visit a new Buddha in Nepal was hilarious.
A mixed bag, as these books usually are, but the piece by Kevin Fedarko about the drug culture in Djibouti and the essay by Ian Parker about the "Birth of a Nation?" make it well worth reading.
May 19, 2008 Kelley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, travel
This is so super - I live vicariously through writing like this. And of course, I increase my always-fading geographical knowledge. (cough cough)
Jen Fumarolo
This collection had some gems, but it wasn't as well put together as the 2006 edition. Still worthwhile.
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I'm the product of a happy and uneventful childhood in the suburbs of Cleveland, followed by a happy and pretty eventful four years as a student at University of Michigan. From there, I wandered to the West Coast, landing in Portland, Oregon, where I managed (somehow) to get a job as a writer. This had been my dream, of course, but I had no experience and no credentials. What I did have, in spades ...more
More about Susan Orlean...

Other Books in the Series

Best American Travel Writing (7 books)
  • The Best American Travel Writing 2003
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  • The Best American Travel Writing 2010
  • The Best American Travel Writing 2011
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