I was not so much “running away” from anything as I was “running towards” everything.
It’s been far too long since I added a virtual title to the book shelves of my Travel Porn book review series. Truth be told, up until recently, it had been a while since I read something in the wanderlust genre that really inspired me. I was starting to feel that old literary longing, a desire to read words so stirring that they inspire flight searches. But I was coming up empty. Then, in March, I arrived in Guatemala and crashed with my friend Luke Armstrong, an accomplished musician, traveler, and writer. When I mentioned I was in the market for a good read on my way up to Lake Atitlán, he presented a beautiful gift — his own recently self-published title, The Nomad’s Nomad: Intrepid Stories From The Road.
And I’m so glad he did.
A Look Inside
The Nomad’s Nomad is a collection of thirty-nine short stories of hope and hilarity.
What makes the Nomad’s Nomad special is that he’s not just a fantastic writer but a truly spectacular traveler. If I did not know the author personally, I might raise an eyebrow at the veracity of some of his tales, from trying to meet a Kenyan dictator at a soccer match, to financing a trip to the United Kingdom by selling loose cigarettes on the streets of London, to getting interviewed by Christiane Amanpour for his work running a malnourished children’s center in Guatemala, to dropping everything to hike a volcano in search of a rare butterfly with a Scottish entomology hobbyist, to joining fisherman for a day of work in a remote bay of Colombia. But having been lucky to tag along on a few of his day to day adventures myself, I can assure you that each one of them rings a thousand percent true (plus, I totally watched the Amanpour interview on YouTube.)
And, in a beautiful little bonus chapter, The Nomad’s Nomad introduced me to the poem Ithaka, by Constantine Cavafly, a new favorite I’ve now returned to countless times in the past months.
What I Liked
I loved this book. The short story format is one of my favorites, especially on the road! I love being able to absorb a bite-size story on the beach, in a bus, or sitting on my backpack in line somewhere.
While the book hops across the globe along with the author, common threads tie the geographically-spread stories together. There is the reckless search for adventure, the constant love for a close-knit family, and a struggle every nomad can relate to, the constant questioning of when to go home, and where this place called home exists. As he muses, “At some point, we all long for home. Home not as a place, but as a state of affairs where we can find familiar comforts and the intersecting lives of those we love.”
Luke’s love for Guatemala is tantamount to my own for a little place called Thailand — “a place that both felt like home and somewhere foreign.” Many of the stories circle around to Antigua, and anyone who has spent time as an expat will relate to his complex relationship with that city.
Yet as deep as the philosophizing goes, so too does the humor. I often laughed out loud, hard, and almost wore through the pages as I underlined phrases I wished I had written so vigorously.
It was a joy reading this book, from reminiscing about places I’ve been, to revisiting existential questions I’ve asked myself, to even reacquainting myself with some of the characters I’ve been lucky enough to meet in person.
What I Didn’t Like
When Luke and I chatted about the book upon my return to his couch in Antigua, I confessed that I had but one criticism. I don’t think the cover — the one thing I am not, in fact, meant to judge a book by — reflects the sophistication of the stories within. But once you crack the spine, it’s really golden.
Who This Book Is For
Backpackers, adventurers, armchair travelers, philosophers, Guatemala fans, expats, and aspiring writers looking for inspiration.
Now It’s Your Turn
Today I’m giving away a brand new copy of The Nomad’s Nomad: Intrepid Stories From The Road to one of you! Think of it as a virtual free bookshelf at your favorite hostel. Readers from all countries are welcome to enter.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Travel Porn is a feature in which I review books from my beloved travel literature genre. So far I’ve reviewed titles like Bangkok Noir, a short story collection that brings the noir genre to the steamy streets of Thailand, Hotel Honolulu, a fictional account of a Waikiki hotel manager’s quirky life in a paradise lost, Walking the Amazon, the true story of a man who spent 860 walking the entire length of the Amazon, Turn Right at Machu Picchu, a tale of the “discovery” of the world’s most famous lost city — and more! This genre, this kind of book — it’s travel porn, plain and simple. Find all reviews here.
What an opportune post. I have recently been inspired (by Camels and Chocolate & Adventurous Kate) to make a concerted effort to read more. I will be sure to add this one to my list. Do you have any non-travel related recommendations?
Those ladies amaze me with their reading! I recently finished The Chemistry Between us which was a fascinating look at brain chemistry and how it effects our behaviors in relationships, love and sex. Highly recommended if you’re into non-fiction!
How great, I was just browsing Amazon this morning to find some inspiring travel-related books. Thanks for this tip! 🙂
What perfect timing! Amazon, along with all bookstores, are a dangerous place for me!
Thanks for sharing Alex! I’m going to have to check out the rest of your Travel Porn series. I’m always on the hunt for a new travel book to read! I actually just FINALLY finished The Alchemist myself. Lovely little story, and a quick read if you haven’t yet!
I haven’t! I’ll check it out. Let me know if there are any in my virtual bookshelf that you end up enjoying!
I like this feature cause it always give good ideas for new books ! I personnaly like the cover of the book and think it would definitely catch my eye on a shelf !
Beauty and good book covers are in the eye of the beholder, I suppose 🙂
Great review! Sounds like a travel book worth checking out – I love good travel writing, so I’ll look forward to checking this one out. Thanks for sharing!
You’re so welcome Paul. Let me know what you think when you do check it out!
I would love to win the book! I’m an avid reader and even more avid traveler – what a perfect fit! 😉
Fingers crossed 🙂
Thanks for the recommendation! I’ve been searching for a new book to read- especially something in the travel genre!
I’m always on the lookout for good ones as well. Hmmm, this might be an upcoming question (slash recommendation request) on the Alex in Wanderland Facebook page!
I’m leaving for El Sal in 2 weeks, pick meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
And I have my posts from there coming up any day now! Stay tuned!
that sounds great! Would love to win a copy 😉
Cross your fingers to the Rafflecopter gods 🙂
I’m always on the look-out for new travel reads to add to my list, so I love reading fellow travellers’ book reviews. Unfortunately I haven’t gotten around to reading many of those on my list, as writing for my blog and travelling seem to take up most of my time! However I love the fact that this book comprises of lots of little short stories, which means I can pick it up on my lunch break at work 🙂
Exactly! I think that’s why I love short stories so much — great for being on the go. Plus I just love the format. And this is a truly fantastic collection.
Any chance of a e-book version of this coming out soon? I’m trying to keep my paper books to a minimum, but I’d love to read this!
Hey Mary, check Amazon via the links in this post! I believe it is currently available in an e-book format.
I don’t see a Kindle option on Amazon (and I have a Nook anyway :-/) I’ll put it on my goodreads list and check back later!
Aw, sorry about that! I’ll let Luke know there’s a demand for it 🙂
Should be out within the next three days 🙂
The Kindle version just came out today. . . Nooks, stay tuned. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00XBJBML8
Wow, this looks like a great book! I am a huge fan of the short story format, so I might have to pick this up at the library. 🙂
I’m not sure if most libraries would have this title as it is self-published, however I would love it if I were wrong on that!
Great review, and sounds like a book I would enjoy too!
Let me know how you like it, if you end up reading!
I love reading short stories, especially those of the travel genre. They can be disastrous, sexy, heartbreaking… and can make the reader feel completely connected to the writer. Paul Theroux is hands down my favorite ‘travel’ writer of all time!
He is indeed fantastic… I’ve reviewed one of his books 🙂
Going to Guatemala in Dec so would love to read those stories!
This book will definitely get you hyped up for the trip! Hopefully so will some of my upcoming blog posts. Happy planning 🙂
This book looks great!
Two thumbs up from me 🙂
After reading this post I realized it has been ages since I read something in the travel genre. This book sounds awesome, especially because it’s about Guatemala 🙂
Guatemala definitely is the heart of the book, though there are stories about everywhere from Kenya to Iceland to Chile! It’s an adventure indeed.
This sounds great!
It really is, Elisa! Hope you enjoy it.
I love wanderlust-inspiring books! I foudn myself thinking lately that I should stop approaching reading as a luxury, sneaked away only when I have an hour to spare (not often) and start making time every day 🙂
I know how you feel! I feel like the only time I read is when I’m on the beach and physically can’t use my computer. I need to make it more of a priority.
I’m always down for more travel book inspiration! It’s so hard to find good ones
Agreed. I’ve felt pretty “meh” about a lot of things I’ve read lately!
Always love a good book tip!
Possible typo, or either Luke didn’t care to travel too far… “financing a trip to the United Kingdom by selling loose cigarettes on the streets of London” …unless it was meant to be a trip ‘around’ the UK 😉
I see how you could write it both ways, but I don’t quite see it as a typo… thanks to credit cards people often pay things off while or after they are doing them these days, for better or for worse 🙂
This book sounds like the perfect summer travel read! I have been in desperate need of some light literary inspiration. I will definitely be picking up a copy to accompany me on my travels!
Let me know how you like it, Jessica!
Damn I’m one day too late to win the book! I’ll have to hunt it out somewhere else then 🙂
It’s worth every penny, I promise 🙂
Sounds like a great read, thanks for the recommendation. I’m currently looking to restock my kindle for my holiday in Thailand in June!
Ah, Kindle…. my new found love! Happy reading!
Happy to have stumbled on your blog. I have been craving some travel inspiration! I look forward to following your adventures.
Thank you Kristen…. welcome to Wanderland 🙂
Sounds like an interesting read, though I have to agree the cover does not do anything for it.
Well, you know what they say about judging books by their covers 🙂
This looks like a great read! I’ve been trying to find another travel book to read for a while and I think this format sounds great with the short stories!
Short stories are my favorite, especially for travel. Let me know how you like it if you decide to give it a go 🙂
I’m currently working my way through reading 52 books this year and so suggestions for a good read are always welcome. Especially a good book that fuels my wanderlust!
Ah, that is an amazing goal! I’d love to challenge myself to that some year…