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I am a New York-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 2009

As soon as I finished and put down The Best American Travel Writing of 2008, edited by Anthony Bourdain, I knew I had to pick up the 2009 edition. I enjoyed the previous one enough, my first taste at the series, and wanted to read more. Thankfully the 2009 book was already on the shelves so I could easily run down to the store to pick up a copy. But, I didn’t do this without some trepidation.
So many great books I’ve read, or movies I’ve seen, have been followed up with flop sequels. Of course, this is a bit different as it’s a series of books opposed to a regular sequel that you might get with something else; kind of an apples and oranges comparison. Still though, I was a bit concerned that the new 2009 book, this one edited by Simon Winchester, was going to be a bit disappointing and not nearly as enjoyable as the Bourdain copy.
I had nothing to base this concern on but my own cynicism. And truthfully, it was more like a cautious optimism, or even a joyous pessimisim, than anything else as I just feared a fall off. I ended up being pleasantly surprised as I turned the pages of the book. I really quite enjoyed it, even more than the 2008 one, and found the vast majority of the stories to be along the lines of trips that I would go on.
So often now it seems like travel writing goes to extremes, which is shown with a particular story here to Darfur, rather than trips or places that most normal people – those without a death wish – would travel to. These stories seem to buck that little trend and get back to places that I would consider going to on my own vacation. I think this is part of what attracted me so much to this edition as it wasn’t extreme adventure vacationing where you’re risking life and limb, with the exception of the Sudan story, and more along the lines of unique perspectives of great destinations or stories.
I would really recommend this compilation of great travel writing to anyone interested in articles in such publications like National Geographic, The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, and many more excellent print and online sources. Of course now, after reading what I see as a nice step up from the 2008 copy, I’m concerned and wary of what might be published in the 2010 edition. My only hope is that series editor Jason Wilson keeps up with what I’ve greatly enjoyed in these two editions and keeps on going.

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