It is difficult to fathom looking anxiously forward to the release of a book talking about other people’s travels when I have so many exciting destinations of my own to anticipate. Yet, I impatiently waited at my mailbox this fall for the arrival of the latest edition of The Best American Travel Writing. I have fallen in love with the series and wanted to get my hands on the 2011 edition as soon as it arrived.
The Best American Travel Writing of 2011, edited by Sloane Crosley, is, obviously enough, the best travel writing by American writers in 2011 – well, actually from 2010, just compiled in 2011. It is a continuation of a long series of books edited by Jason Wilson. I had thus far been pleased, even a touch giddy at times, with the work that has been included in past editions. So, with the arrival of my copy, I was hopeful, but also a touched reserved so as not to be let down.
I didn’t waste a moment in cracking the binding of The Best American Travel Writing of 2011. I jumped right into it and wasn’t disappointed for a single moment. Sure, I liked, maybe even loved, some of the stories more than others, but I didn’t find a single story throughout the book that I skipped after a few pages or paragraphs – that hasn’t always been the case with the past editions.
Singling out a few of the stories to chose as favorites is difficult. I know it would not be as difficult as Sloane Crosley’s job of selecting the stories in the first place, but with eighteen interesting adventures that span the globe – Haiti, the high seas, Denmark, and Moscow, to name a few – I wouldn’t know where to start when it comes to picking a favorite. From page one to the end, each selection – even the ones I looked at and didn’t think would be of interest – were fantastic; they constructively built upon the previous stories to a very solid ending.
In the end, I’d have to say this is likely my favorite edition of The Best American Travel Writing series. The writing is crisp, the destinations interesting, and the perspectives genuine and intriguing. And for those reasons, I can’t recommend the book enough; it is a fantastic read, an excellent holiday gift, and one of the best books I’ve read all year.