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The Best American Travel Writing 2013

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Number-one New York Times best-selling author of Eat, Pray, Love and Committed: A Love Story, Elizabeth Gilbert transports readers to far-flung locales with this collection of the year’s lushest and most inspiring travel writing.
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The Best American Travel Writing 2013

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Number-one New York Times best-selling author of Eat, Pray, Love and Committed: A Love Story, Elizabeth Gilbert transports readers to far-flung locales with this collection of the year’s lushest and most inspiring travel writing.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Elizabeth Gilbert is best known as the memoirist of Eat, Pray, Love and Committed, but she is also a National Book Award finalist biographer, and a novelist. (Her new novel, which appears this month, is featured on page XXX.) She has also edited three annuals in the Best American series, of which this new trade paperback and NOOK Book original is the third. Like its predecessors, The Best American Travel Writing 2013 comprises dozens of diverse pieces about far-flung places. For armchair travelers, the best buy of the year.

Publishers Weekly
Guest editor Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) anthologizes a variety of pieces that adhere to her maxim, "No story is automatically interesting; only the telling makes it so." Among the 19 contributors, John Jeremiah Sullivan reflects on a journey to Cuba to visit his wife's family, capturing both the picturesque landscape and the inherent strangeness of being an American there. Colleen Kinder recalls wearing a niqab to a marketplace while on assignment in Cairo. In "The Year I Didn't," Daniel Tyx lampoons self-indulgent travel trend pieces, writing about the road not travelled at all as he opts out of his plan to walk the U.S-Mexico border. Peter Jon Lindberg embraces the idyllic at Pine Point, Maine, and David Farley seeks an elusive recipe in Vietnam made exclusively by one family for generations. Sam Anderson muses on the nature of literary tourism on his trip to the English theme park Dickens World, while Marie Arana provides a hard-hitting look at child labor and the exploitation of workers at a Peruvian gold mine, articulating a powerful plea for the education of young girls. Lynn Yaeger's "Confessions of a Packing Maximalist" addresses the preparation stage of travel and adding a light-hearted touch to the collection. Gilbert made excellent choices for this collection, not a single piece is out of place here. (Oct.)
From the Publisher

Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love, 2006), guest editor of the latest volume in this always rich yearly anthology, boldly avers that she chose travel stories that “were told the most marvelously in 2012.” All the pieces included here are treasures of excellent writing, regardless of genre. – Booklist

The latest installment of the travel-writing series upholds the tradition of world-expanding excellence.The wonder continues in the fact that, regardless of subject, each story takes its place in the collection proudly and deservedly. – Kirkus

Library Journal
This highly anticipated annual collection of essays comes this year from Eat, Pray, Love author Gilbert and series editor Wilson. This well-told story takes readers around the world, letting them dip their literary toes in many aspects of travel from understanding another culture to learning a place's history and current political situation to finding out new things about ourselves. Travel the streets of Egypt first dressed fully covered in a niqab and then as a Westerner. Learn the history of pirates in New Orleans. Run with the bulls in Pamplona. Visit the illegal gold mines in Peru. Relish the peace of returning yearly to the same vacation spot. Go snowboarding in Sarajevo and experience cockfighting in Afghanistan. Laugh as David Sedaris describes his French dental care. See the changes in modern Cuba. Essays in this year's edition focus primarily on earnest reporting rather than the reflective, adventurous, or humorous aspects of travel but nonetheless are a treasure to read. VERDICT Once again, this collection is a delight for armchair travel readers and will be of interest to anyone who wants a broader understanding of the world.—Sheila Kasperek, Mansfield Univ. Lib., PA
Kirkus Reviews
The latest installment of the travel-writing series upholds the tradition of world-expanding excellence. Series editor Jason Wilson begins this collection with a tale of overcoming adversity. After years, he found volume editor Gilbert's (Committed: A Love Story, 2010, etc.) schedule finally jibed with his, and thus, the 2013 collection was born. This is not a book full of traditional travel stories. Instead, under Gilbert's stewardship, the articles are tidbits from another place, time or culture, and one from the mind of a man who contemplated travel but never got around to it. Readers won't find any pieces to help them plan a trip, but they will be inspired to travel somewhere. "Some of these stories find their authors flinging themselves into mad acts of danger and some do not," writes Gilbert, "but every piece contains awe in strong enough doses to render the reader enchanted, delighted, compelled, or forever unsettled." The stories range from typical subjects with atypical treatments--e.g., Kevin Chroust's recounting of running with the bulls in which he examines not the thrill of the terror, but the sheer stupidity of it--to the completely unexpected--e.g., Sarah A. Topol's "Tea and Kidnapping," in which an event that should be terrifying is surprisingly giggle-inducing. "Travel should be just as much about light delights as about dark daring," writes Gilbert, and both are represented here, well-balanced. So Grant Stoddard's article about making up his own Manhattan tours and David Sedaris' piece about his dentist in Paris slide into the collection seamlessly while offering a needed comedic break. Other contributors include Ian Frazier, John Jeremiah Sullivan and Christopher de Bellaigue. The wonder continues in the fact that, regardless of subject, each story takes its place in the collection proudly and deservedly.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547808987
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 10/8/2013
  • Series: Best American Travel Writing Series
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 127,736
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Gilbert

JASON WILSON is the drinks columnist at the Washington Post, the series editor of The Smart Set, and the author of Boozehound: On The Trail of the Rare, the Obscure, and the Overrated. He teaches at Drexel University.

ELIZABETH GILBERT is the author of the story collection Pilgrims, a finalist for the 1998 PEN/Hemingway Award. It was a New York Times Notable Book and was listed as one of the Most Intriguing Books of 1997 by Glamour magazine. Pilgrims also won best first fiction awards from the Paris Review, the Southern Review, and Ploughshares. Her fiction has been published in Esquire, Story, GQ, Paris Review, Ploughshares, and the Mississippi Review. She is also a Pushcart Prize winner, and her nonfiction writing has earned her a 1999 National Magazine Award nomination. Annie Proulx called Gilbert a "young writer of incandescent talent." Currently a writer-at-large for GQ, Gilbert lives in New York's Hudson Valley.


While Elizabeth Gilbert's roots are in journalism -- she's a Pushcart Prize-winning and National Magazine Award-nominated writer -- it's her books that have granted her even more attention.

Gilbert departed from reporting in 1997, with the publication of her first collection of short fiction, Pilgrims. A finalist for the 1998 PEN/Hemingway Award, Pilgrims was also selected as a New York Times Notable Book, was listed as one of the "Most Intriguing Books of 1997" by Glamour magazine, and went on to win best first fiction awards from The Paris Review, The Southern Review, and Ploughshares.

Since then, Gilbert has successfully alternated between fiction and nonfiction -- a high-wire act that has paid off in a string of critically acclaimed bestsellers that includes her first full-length novel, Stern Men (2000); The Last American Man (2002), a National Book Award for Nonfiction; and Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia (2006), a celebrated spiritual memoir that landed on several year-end Best Books lists.

Good To Know

Some fun and fascinating outtakes from our interview with Gilbert:

"I was once observed talking in my sleep, smiling with deep bliss as I said, ‘Ah...the writer's life!'"

"I was a terrible crybaby and coward as a child. I still cry a lot and am afraid of many things, like, for instance, surfing, skiing, and the possibility that somebody somewhere might be mad at me."

"I once accosted Wally Shawn in a restaurant where I was a waitress and he was a patron. I said to him something like, ‘You're a lovely, lovely man who writes lovely, lovely plays! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, Wally Shawn!' He backed away slowly."

"I am far more of a loner than people would imagine. But I am the most gregarious and socially interactive loner you ever met. The thing is, I am fascinated by people's stories and I'm very talkative and can't ever say No to anything or anyone, so I tend to over-socialize, to give away too much of my time to the many people I adore. Therefore, one of the only ways I can ever be alone is if I go traveling solo. This is the secret reason I travel so much, and to such distant places. To get away from everyone I know. I love my friends and family, but I also love it when they can't find me and I can spend all day reading or walking all alone, in silence, eight thousand miles away from everyone. All alone and unreachable in a foreign country is one my most favorite possible things to be."

"The Disney movie Coyote Ugly was based on an article I wrote for GQ about my experience as a bartender in an East Village dive. I just had to add that bizarre fact because I still can't really believe it myself."

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    1. Hometown:
      Hudson Valley, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 18, 1969
    2. Place of Birth:
      Waterbury, Connecticut
    1. Education:
      BA, New York University, 1991 (Political Science)
    2. Website:

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 31, 2014

    Interesting selection - worth reading

    The selection of the articles is certainly eclectic. A few are worth a second read. Most are a delightful read. As with any collection of stories, there's at least one to just skim over. I like the length of the stories. Makes a great ebook that allows interesting reading while waiting for an appointment, since you can pick it up and enjoy the moment.

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