Friday, June 22, 2012

BACKPACKED by Catherine Ryan Howard


THE GIST:

A girl who really doesn't like being uncomfortable decides to go backpacking.

THE VERDICT:

In this fun travel memoir, Catherine Ryan Howard is a 20-something Irish girl who has just finished working for a fancy hotel in Disney World. She likes reading in cafes, sitting by the pool, and other activities that promote comfort and cleanliness. But when her US visa expires, she joins an adventurous friend for 10 weeks of backpacking in South America, not allowing the reality of what backpacking actually is to sink in until it's to late. Amidst dirty hostels, cold showers, and strange fellow travelers, she is out of her comfort zone pretty much 100% of the time.

This is a travel memoir for everyone who has ever thought, "Let's just stay in a hotel this time." It's about the backpacking experience without the dewy-eyed enthusiasm for roughing it shared by many young travelers. Howard is honest about the discomforts, and also the unexpected joys, of the traveling experience. She brings a fresh look to the places she visits by not idealizing the act of travel. She also manages to celebrate the beauty of the places she visits in spite of her own worries.

This is now the fourth book I've read by this author (I haven't reviewed Self-Printed yet). I'm a fan of her writing style, which is funny, snarky, and very down-to-earth. In this adventure, the portrayals of the characters are particularly strong. I haven't been on a serious backpacking adventure, but I recognize the types of some of these people. There was a pair of elderly women that could have come straight out of A Room With a View and a young man that I could have sworn I met in a youth hostel in Taiwan. This is an honest look at what it's like to travel in less than ideal circumstances and still manage to have a terrific time.

THE LINKS:

Catherine, Caffeinated
My reviews of MOUSETRAPPED, a travel memoir, and RESULTS NOT TYPICAL, a novel.

THE COST:

I downloaded this e-book for free during a special promotion, but it's $2.99.

THE QUESTION:

What's your favorite type of travel? Have you ever been backpacking?

Don't forget that my e-book, a travel memoir about the Beijing Olympics, is available from Amazon and B&N for $0.99. It's called The Olympics Beat: A Spectator's Memoir of Beijing. Only 35 days until the London Games begin!

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