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I am a Denver-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

The Best American Travel Writing of 2010

I’m getting more time to read as the months get colder. I’m going out for fewer hikes, as well as other things, and staying in more to curl up in a blanket on the couch and read. At times I’m even reading three or four books at a time, maybe one more than I usually do, and get getting through them faster than before. One such book that I zipped through was The Best American Travel Writing of 2010 – a collection of, well, the best American travel writing over the past year.
I loved reading the previous two collections, and was excited to get my hands on this one when I saw it on the bookstore shelf. The series holds true to switching things up each year by using a different editor, this time writer Bill Buford. Without a doubt, Buford picked some fantastic stories for the book. The sources run the gamut, from Outside to The New Yorker (five stories), and have a wide degree of varying interests – no two stories are alike.
I’d like to think that Buford did this intentionally. I got the feeling, from the very first story, that he was attempting to show the intense personal connection that travel can have for each of us. As I’ve said before, I don’t think any two people can or want to travel exactly alike just as no two people are exactly alike – everyone has one or two different preferences from the next in regards to travel. And Buford did an excellent job in trying to point that out by picking a variety of stories.
Now, I’ll be honest, I didn’t like all of his selections. Heck, I had to stop after a couple of pages on a few of them and move on to the next. When I did that, though, it wasn’t because I thought the writing was bad. As a matter of fact, the writing in each story was excellent – I just wasn’t caring for the story for one reason or another. Some of them, while writing fantastically and very deserving to be there, just weren’t for me. That’s to be expected, though, in a collection of twenty-one stories.
I do have a handful of favorite stories from The Best American Travel Writing of 2010. I enjoyed each of them for varying reasons and could definitely read them a few more times to wring out every last word to its fullest extent. My favorites were Travels in Siberia by Ian Frazier, which ran in The New Yorker; Walking: An Essay on Writing by Peter LaSalle from Agni; Lost in the Amazon by Matthew Power from the Men’s Journal; and Take Nothing, Leave Nothing by The Best American Travel Writing of 2009 editor Simon Winchester in Lapham’s Quarterly.
To be fair, though, that’s just a handful of the stories I found intriguing. I definitely liked a great many more, including, and begrudgingly so since I’m a proud Minnesotan, Garrison Keillor’s Take In the State Fair from National Geographic. I remember reading it in the magazine and loving the story, albeit in disbelief that I could love anything from Keillor – many Minnesotans dislike him for the same reasons as Sinclair Lewis, he makes us look stupid. Nonetheless, I enjoyed his story and was happy to read it again.
The Best American Travel Writing of 2010 is just that – some great travel writing. And while past years have been good, I’m most impressed by this collection. I love what editor Bill Buford, along with series editor Jason Wilson, did with the book, and will most greedily look forward to next year’s installment.
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