In The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost, author Rachel Friedman is obsessed with finding her place in the world. At the threshold of her senior year of college, she was about to enter the phase of her life where she must “make something of herself”. So she decides to go to Ireland for four months with little else but $600, a work visa and a large suitcase. I was fascinated by her adventures of living, working and making her own timid way in an unfamiliar country. For instance, she knew the hostel she booked in Dublin was co-ed, but she didn’t expect to find herself sharing a room with three gigantic Dutchmen! Along the way she makes a life-long friend and finds out a lot about herself as she learns about the cultures and customs in Ireland, Australia and South America.
We’ll Always Have Paris is about a mother-daughter odyssey that is propelled by by the mother’s belief that she will die young. Jennifer Coburn and Katie, her then 8-year-old, super-cool daughter, start in Paris, where after a few mishaps they learn how to navigate the city. At various times up until Katie becomes a high school senior, they take more trips to other countries like Italy and Spain. What drew me in were the vignettes of Jennifer’s childhood with her musician father who died at the age of 49, when she was just 19. The author skillfully weaves them in among the memories she and her own daughter are making.
Susan Spano, travel writer for the NY Times and the LA Times, has put together a collection of her some of her many travel adventures in French Ghosts, Russian Nights & American Outlaws. A seasoned traveler from age 14, there is no uncertainty about whether or not she should go, she just does. The essays are loosely grouped into three sections: Unforgettable, where she tells of some, well…, unforgettable trips; Footsteps, where she traces the lives of famous people like Julia Child, Mao Tse-tung and Mary, Queen of Scots; and Souvenirs, where she tells of places that evoked personal memories for her. I loved that her trips often seemed to be to see things or go to places that most of us don’t even know exist.