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The Blind Masseuse: A Traveler's Memoir from Costa Rica to Cambodia
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The Blind Masseuse: A Traveler's Memoir from Costa Rica to Cambodia

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  143 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Through personal journeys both interior and across the globe, Alden Jones investigates what motivates us to travel abroad in search of the unfamiliar. By way of explorations to Costa Rica, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Cuba, Burma, Cambodia, Egypt, and around the world on a ship, Jones chronicles her experience as a young American traveler while pondering her role as an outsider in ...more
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published November 15th 2013 by University of Wisconsin Press (first published October 22nd 2013)
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Kelly Campbell
Dec 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written memoir that explores much more than even the exotic locations she visits, like Costa Rica, Cuba and Cambodia. Alden Jones gives us clever and delightful insights about culture, travel, love and life, allowing readers to experience the thrill of being a true and courageous traveler, great for those reluctant to travel much further than getting off the couch.... But don't read it because it's wonderful travel writing; read it because it's a fun, entertaining and beautiful jou ...more
Nov 17, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: travel, female-travel
For an actual traveler, this book has little to offer. There is nothing new, unusual or eye-opening. Right at the intro the author points out the distinction between a "traveler" and a "tourist" - which to me is already quite a bit snobby. So you would think she wouldn't act as a tourist in the book, yet the majority of her experiences are of a tourist.

I suspect the author just took a bunch of travel blog entries and turned them into a book. Not to say this can't be done, but if I spend my time
Sep 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mar-read
Mar reviews The Blind Masseuse by Alden Jones.

Alden Jones the Tourist is dying for a Coca-Cola while Alden Jones the Traveler is rejecting such a desire on principle. This is the premise of the third story in Alden Jones’s travel memoir, The Blind Masseuse. With hilarity and great introspection, this memoir tells of Jones’s travels to countries including Costa Rica, Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua, Cambodia, and Burma. However, rather than telling tales of wrestling crocodiles or riding elephants, Jon
Nov 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It is a rare book indeed that not only energizes readers into immediately packing suitcases for lands unknown, but also requires us to ask the deeper questions, as Jones does here: Is there "something suspicious about my desire to briefly inhabit other cultures?" Similar to Paul Bowles and Sybille Bedford, Jones poses to herself, and to us, the iceberg question: "Is there a right way and a wrong way to travel?"

Handling an exploration into the realm of exoticism is akin to walking on a wavering b
sarah  morgan
Oct 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Are you a traveler or a tourist? Do you seek out the exotic or search for all the comforts of home in your travels? Those are some of the philosophical and practical questions that percolate up through the pages of this wonderful travel memoir.

A new generation of traveler, Alden Jones learned to balance her desire for distant places with the reality of making a living. The memoir follows her travels around the globe from WorldTeach volunteer, right out of college, to full-fledged professor of E
K. Lang-Slattery
Oct 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
A collection of well-written essays about journeys to 3rd world nations by an intrepid female traveler.
The essays are each independent but linked by the personality of the author and the readers knowledge of past travels already read about in earlier essays of the same volume. The overriding theme is travel that takes the traveler to unexpected experiences, the value of blending into the surrounding culture, and getting to know the everyday people along the way. Later essays highlight her relat
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
Truth be told I was expecting some more from this book.

Don't get me wrong I think it does its job but it was not what I was expecting. I didn't read the number of pages it had (I got a digital copy) but that would've been a signal that it wasn't going to be as deep as I was hoping for. I though it was going to be a book where she spends years on a country from top to bottom or something like that. Feels superficial like a traveler's blog; not that that's a bad thing

You can read this book in a b
Mar 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
One of the better travel books I've read recently. Similar to others in the sense that it is written by someone from a privileged background, but Jones is at least very aware of this and reflects on some of her own questionable actions (like taking pictures without the consent of others) as a traveler. Throughout the book, she weaves in discussions of being a tourist versus a traveler. Ultimately, it's difficult for anyone from her background ( and that of many Americans) to become completely of ...more
Nov 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The Blind Masseuse is a well-crafted travel memoir, but the book is also a deeper reflection on culture, travel, and tourism, and how those concepts intersect and conflict. (But that somewhat scientific explanation of the book's themes hardly do it justice.)

One of my favorite quotes comes early on in the book and set the tone as I hurried through the pages:
"While tourists spend their time away from home seeking out the comforts of home, travelers risk - even cultivate - discomfort, because what
Jennifer Chow
Oct 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is an interesting read that explores one writer's journey across different countries. I love how Jones brings up the discussion of being a traveler versus a tourist, and her difficulty in juggling those two mindsets. However, since she introduced that there is a "right" way to travel from early on, I thought she would have had a more conclusive ending to her memoir.

I also thought that Jones brought to light some interesting facts and cultural experiences, particularly with the Latin countri
We often want to encourage folks to try different perspectives on for size, but handing your reader a strict set of rules that outline success and failure at being a good person is not, perhaps the best technique. Jones frequently emphasizes that she is a TRAVELER not a TOURIST. She is so intrinsically, at her core, a TRAVELER she doesn't even need to try. She gladly embraces the pain of being pelted by gravel by angry folks in Bolivia, for example, because she knows she ought to take these sort ...more
Bryanna Plog
Jan 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars: a thoroughly enjoyable read. Alden Jones takes the reader around the world, and while visiting the different destinations is part of the fun of reading this book, what makes THE BLIND MASSEUSE stand out from other travelogues is how Jones takes the reader through her own struggles and thoughts on what traveling means in today's world, especially for women. In different situations she is both a traveler and a tourist and I enjoyed her thoughts and honesty on what that means. Her strong ...more
Mar 29, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014, memoir, travel
3.5 perhaps

I really enjoyed reading this. Occasionally I have a need to travel vicariously and this book provided that. I also enjoyed Jones' observations both on those she encountered and her own life. I also appreciate the ability to observe her travels and consider what I would do differently.

This book will not teach you what to expect when you travel or give a clear image of the places Jones visited. But you will gain details from a traveler's journey and a glimpse of all that she saw, hone
Jennifer Turnbull
Oct 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky enough to be able to get my hands on this book pre-release. If you love to read travel books, this one is not to be missed. It's a travel memoir in the typical sense in that it shares the author's travels around the world. What makes it unique though is the author's approach to new cultures. She wants to fit in, in Costa Rica, in Bolivia, in Cuba, and constantly fights the urge to travel like a tourist who judges a culture rather than embraces it. Although this book explores weighty ...more
Jennie Wood
Feb 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I love the way this book isn't just about the author's external travels, but also about the inner growth she experiences while visiting new countries and cultures. By sharing her own honest, personal thoughts and feelings, Jones captures the inner struggles and conflicts that come up for all of us when we travel to new places. In fact, she captures these inner conflicts on a philosophical and analytical level that I have never encountered before in a travelogue or memoir. The conflicts and quest ...more
Carrianne K.Y. Leung
Oct 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved being carried away with Jones on her journeys. She is a master storyteller, bringing an attentive and compassionate sensibility to the places and people she meets. This is a wonderful book for anyone who has
ever had the desire to step outside and engage in the world with ethical curiosity and wonder. Part of the journey is the return, and Jones gives us the opportunity to come full circle with an understanding that we are never in the same place again.
Apr 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
The title is only related to the subject matter of the book in the briefest of ways. The essay about the blind massuer shoehorns the feminine version of the title into the conversation of the book and makes for an odd title considering its tangential nature. I liked the first half of the book much better than the last. The last few chapters were packed, rushed, and largely authorcentric.
Feb 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, travel
This book captured so many of the same feelings I've had while traveling. Traveling inspires many mixed emotions, and it is complicated and confusing to try to figure that out. This book very eloquently describes many of those emotions. I loved hearing the stories and feel inspired to travel to places that were not previously on my list. ...more
Nov 01, 2014 rated it it was ok
This book reminded me of eat, love pray, which I personally did not care for at all. There was just no real substance that I could sink into and her traveler felt more like a tourist and a very white privileged tourist. Meh.
Jun 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
I would give this 3.5 stars- entertaining and a quick read. I love travel memoirs and this didn't disappoint. ...more
Aug 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A great little read. Just enough balance of real travel stories and cultural/historic background. The parts about Cambodia are heart-wrenching.
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Alden Jones's first book, The Blind Masseuse, was longlisted for the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award, winner of the Independent Publishers Book Award, winner of the IndieFab Award, and called "the best travel book of 2013" by the Huffington Post. Her story collection, Unaccompanied Minors, won the New American Fiction Prize and the Lascaux Book Prize and was a Star-Ledger Top Ten Book of the Year ...more

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