Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “You Can't Get There from Here: A Year on the Fringes of a Shrinking World” as Want to Read:
You Can't Get There from Here: A Year on the Fringes of a Shrinking World
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

You Can't Get There from Here: A Year on the Fringes of a Shrinking World

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  399 ratings  ·  78 reviews
In these eight interconnected travel stories, journalist Gayle Forman traces the trajectory from her relatively comfortable life in New York's Hell's Kitchen to her sometimes extreme--and extremely personal--experiences in some of the most exotic spots on earth

In this extraordinary memoir--now issued in paperback--Gayle Forman takes us with her to the mountain hideaways of
Paperback, 325 pages
Published November 14th 2006 by Rodale Books (first published April 2nd 2005)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

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

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.52  · 
Rating details
 ·  399 ratings  ·  78 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of You Can't Get There from Here: A Year on the Fringes of a Shrinking World
Nov 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Foolishly, I read some reviews when I first entered this book. I was disconcerted because the ratings of the first reviews to catch my eye were so low. I know better than to bias myself like that, but I really was not prepared to like GF and braced myself for a whiny, self-absorbed prat. Thankfully, GF herself cleared my head of such mean spirited assessments. Forthright, honest, mindfull and alert to the rare angle, her message may not appeal to everybody, but hers is a thoughtful book, not ...more
Sep 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
For the most part, this is a very entertaining travelogue. Forman and her husband went to some very exotic places that you won't read about in a lot of other travelogues. It held my interested and I learned a lot.

My biggest problem is that Forman doesn't come across very likable. She spent a lot of the trip whining and complaining (particularly odd since she'd already done a lot of travel in her life) and in the end I felt really bad for her poor husband, who was on his first international trip
Feb 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
This is a memoir of Gayle Forman's trip around the world with her husband. She's a journalist, so has a few stories in mind when she embarks on the tour. She learns about the Fakaleiti in Tonga, a group of men who dress like women and sleep with men but do not consider themselves gay. It's a challenge to wrap your head around their completely different world view. She also meets up with a Chinese doctor enamored with the English language, works on a Bollywood movie set, plays games with a group ...more
I haven't read any of Gayle Forman's YA novels and I can't say they really appeal to me, but I did enjoy this non-fiction account of her year-long trip around the world with her husband, prior to having a child and beginning her career in fiction.

In the various places they visit, Forman seeks out the unusual elements of each society: transvestites in Tonga, hip-hop in Zanzibar, a "lost tribe of Israel" in South Africa, role-playing Tolkien fans in Kazakhstan. The journalistic parts of this book
Bridget Bailey
Oct 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy this author a lot so I was looking forward to a different style of her writing. I liked this book a lot because it was more of a memoir and less a story. It chronicled her year traveling with her husband and all the different places they visited which were not common places to visit. I really enjoyed hearing about some obscure tribes in Tonga or Cambodia or what not and the interesting dynamics of different cultures. It was really eye opening how open her and her husband are with meeting ...more
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Gayle Forman is one of my favorite authors. I read all her fiction books and when I learnt that she had written a non-fiction book - many years ago - as well, it was a instinct buy for me.

I really enjoyed this book and Formans travel report. It was written more than 10 years ago - so that fact alone, realizing how much the world has changed in such a short period of time, was very entertaining.
But I also learned a lot, especially about places and countries where we hear - until today! - not much
Jul 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
Not as good as I had hoped.
Jaime Howey
Dec 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Great read. Learned a little something and now I look forward to reading some of Gayle Forman's other works.
Nicole Gas
Nov 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
So readable and thought provoking, especially since I've never visited any of the places she mentions!
Mar 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Not my normal cup of tea, but I've enjoyed everything else written by this author so why not. It was a great book to read in small quick segments. I enjoyed her take on seeing the world.
Karith Amel
Here's a reflection I wrote on this book when I actually read it, during a freshman class on autobiographical writing:

I really enjoyed Gayle Forman’s book, You Can’t Get There from Here. A travel book, its theme is similar to Without Reservations, and yet Forman succeeds in ways that Steinbach does not. Why is this?

I think there are several elements that grant Forman her success, and help to captivate us as readers. For instance, she is not as introspective as Steinbach. While this is not
Apr 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
In the introduction to this book, Gayle Forman admits that she's a Weird Girl. She says, "...I am a member of the tribe of the odd. Have been since, as a little girl, I came to realize that I was not like an Amy or a Jenny...As such, I spent a lot of time by myself, daydreaming, bug-hunting, thrift-shopping for Snoopy skirts, dyeing my hair unnatural colors, and doing interpretive dances to the Velvet Underground at my elementary school's talent shows... Naturally, I became the picked-on person, ...more
Sep 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: wanderlust daydreamers & travel lovers
Recommended to Stacy by: Gayle Forman mentioned it in her website's FAQ section
You Can't Get There from Here: A Year on the Fringes of a Shrinking World by Gayle Forman is a tough book for me to review: I really enjoyed it and found most of it fascinating; however, it took me a long time to get through, longer than most fiction novels take, anyway.

This was most likely because the writing in You Can't Get There from Here was a bit too conversational and article-ready. When I read Forman's Just One Day and Just One Year, the writing was divine and the plot was
Melissa Stucky
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
I love travel books and especially liked how this one focused on people in less-known areas.
Jun 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Quite frankly, I'm getting tired of people taking a year off (of work, bad relationships, life, whatever), traveling the world, and then writing a book about it. Are you truly traveling the world to experience other cultures, or are you traveling the world with an agenda--namely finding some adventures so you can write a book about them? And why is it that they always take a year off? How about 2 weeks...or 3 years? Anyway, now that I've gotten that off my chest, I will state that I really liked ...more
Feb 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
I won't lie: I was hating on this book for the first chapter or two. It was the way Ms. Forman wrote that threw me off: seemingly self-important, "ain't I cool, writing this one-year travelogue?" My expectations were for something different, though I can't put my finger on what exactly. Yet, I pressed on and found it actually quite fascinating. Forman took a tack that I had yet to experience: historical and sub-cultural aspects of areas not typically explored by the common tourist. She doesn't ...more
Feb 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
The first few chapters are the best, but I really enjoyed the whole thing. It's written by a journalist whose husband convinces her to take a year off with him and travel around the world. Along the way, the author looks for interesting subcultures to explore and write about. The first chapter, about the fakaleiti of Tonga, is not to be missed. The fakaleiti are born male, but make the decision to dress as women when they reach maturity, and for generations have been considered a third gender in ...more
Dec 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book--I found it an easy and accessible read, and it did a fantastic job of stimulating my wanderlust without kicking it into overdrive. Let me explain: Forman's travel experiences were honest and self-examining, which made the book less about "ha ha, I get to go great places and you don't," and more about humans relating to each other from all corners of the map. I'll be honest here. I hate it when books kick my wanderlust into overdrive, because I end up feeling agitated and ...more
Jan 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
It's hard to set aside the critical when reading travel stories, but this one just kept me going. The author is a great writer (YA and journalist) and she's focused on the outcasts and "others" within cultures in countries off the beaten travel path around the world--a unique "third sex" in Tonga, street kids in Cambodian villages, 'Tolkienists' who find refuge in role playing societies in Kazakhstan, Hip Hop musicians in Zanzibar, prostitutes in Holland. She travels most of the time with her ...more
Dec 29, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: travel
Author Gayle Forman took a trip around the world in 2002, traveling to mostly off-the-beaten path destinations. In this book, she recalls the people she befriended along the way. That these people are deeply unusual (men in a gay subculture in Tonga, African Jews, Tolkien re-enactors in Kazakhstan, etc.) only makes her adventure more interesting.

While Gayle has a wonderful time ingratiating herself with these various groups, back at the hotel, her marriage is falling apart. The growing tension
Jul 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Gayle Foreman found some really interesting cultural phenomena to explore in this travel book about her and her husband's trip around the world, and she is right, she does seem to have a talent for getting people to talk to her and getting inside these communities. The third-gendered people in Tonga are my favorites (oh! and this story was also the most complex- it sounds so awesome that the fakaleiti are tolerated by the otherwise conservative Tongan society, but as we get to know them we see ...more
Oct 12, 2011 rated it liked it
Every writer of something vaguely autobiographical commits a crime of dishonesty: consciously or not, they portray themselves as without fault. Errors in judgment, mean-spirited remarks, events that reveal some character flaw -- all are rationalized or revised away entirely. It's hard to relate your actions to someone else, or to even recall them yourself, without rationalizing them. Over time, a snarky snap at someone becomes okay -- they were asking for it, or I was tired. One way or another, ...more
Apr 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
In 2002, Forman and her husband embarked on a year-long world voyage. Forman was the more seasoned traveller, but her husband was the driving force behind their decision to go. Along the way they had unexpected adventures, squabbled, made up, thought and rethought the purpose of their trip...

What works so well for me here is twofold. First, as a journalist, Forman wasn't content with simply seeking satisfaction in the form of safaris and snorkeling and sightseeing; although she did her share of
Jan 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

Gayle Forman invites us along a year long trek around the way with her husband, Nick. She visits people that are on the fringe (fakaleiti in Tonga, Tolkienists in Kazakhstan, the Lemba people in Africa, etc) and seeks out understanding their way of life in a way that is never condescending.

As she travels to new lands we are given brief history lessons. At first this felt too much like school but eventually I understood that in order to understand the people I had to learn about their
Feb 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wow, there were a ton of negative reviews about this book... but I felt Forman just came across as honest about herself and her relationships. I really enjoyed reading about places I had never heard of.... read for the 2017 Good Reads Read Harder Challenge - Read a Travel Memoir
Nov 26, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Gayle Forman and her husband take a year off to travel around the world, visiting some off-the-beaten track places. Throughout the year, Gayle interacts with locals and seeks them out actively, in a way that most tourists don't. Under the strain of travelling, her and her husband's relationship begins to suffer.

It's a very well-researched book and enjoyable to read. Ms Forman introduces us to aspects of tourism not many of us would undertake, mainly because most of us don't have months to spend
Aug 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
A 3.5 rating overall.

I picked up this book because I am now hooked on Gayle Forman books after reading If I Stay and Where She Went, and because I love a good travel book.

The book started out slow, but picked up. I felt that I was on the trip with Forman and found myself getting annoyed with her neediness and constant complaining through a few of the chapters. It was like being on a trip with someone that is driving you insane. Forman would make for an awful travel buddy, but her writing is
Nov 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book gets 4.25 stars to be exact. I liked Eat, Love, Pray more, but only because ELP was better written. You Can't Get There from Here is super interesting - in certain parts. This is another travel book about a husband and wife traveling for a year around the globe in seach of the "fringe" societies. I loved the part about the fakaleiti of Tonga (men that have sex with other men, but aren't gay) and the red light district of Amsterdam (prostitutes love doing their work).

I think this book
This was fun. Nothing earth-shattering or changing, but lots of fun to read. I never had any interest in doing this kind of traveling, (a little more comfort, please) but that is why I enjoy this kind of travelogue.

Forman visits Tonga, China, Cambodia and other places. There were times that I felt like I had read the book before - the Lemda, the African hip-hop and even the prostitutes in the Netherlands. However, enough seemed new that I don't think I had read this before.

I was led to this book
Mar 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: travel
Fun, entertaining, quick read (when you gloss over some of the repetitions in chapters).

Chapters I especially loved: the South African one, discussing the Lemba, one of the lost tribes of Israel; and the one on Tonga, talking about the "third gender" of the Leiti.

The main issue I had with the book was that in Tandem with her chapters on her visits to Tonga, China, India, South Africa, and Amsterdam -- each chapter provides fascinating insights into lesser known aspects of those places -- she
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
Award-winning author and journalist Gayle Forman has written several bestselling novels for young adults, including the Just One Series, I Was Here, Where She Went and the #1 New York Times bestseller If I Stay, which has been translated into more than 40 languages and in 2014 was adapted into a major motion picture.

Gayle published Leave Me, her first novel starring adults in 2016 and her latest
“There's nothing wrong. You are just happy because you met people who see the world differently.” 0 likes
More quotes…