Let me put it out there, “World Travel: An Irreverent Guide” by Anthony Bourdain and Laura Woolever was one of my most anticipated travel guides coming out this year. I was counting down the days until its release in October, excited to read more about Anthony Bourdain’s insights on the world. So you couldn’t believe my excitement when I got my hands on an early copy of this guide for this review.
Until reading “World Travel: An Irreverent Guide“, I have never laughed while reading a travel guide. I’m an information junkie and I love travel guides. But they’re usually not this entertaining.
About World Travel: An Irreverent Guide
“World Travel: An Irreverent Guide” is less practical and more of an inspiration guide to some of Bourdain’s favorite places. This is a guide designed for Bourdain super fans and those inspired by his way of travels. It is full of wit, entertaining antidotes, and sprinkled with useful tips throughout. This is the type of book you keep on your bedside table. It’s the type of book you pick up from time to time to whisk you away to a new destination. It is full of inspirational tidbits that will encourage you to deep dive into the destination. This is a starting point that does not just show you the top of things to do in each destination. Rather it shows you how to experience these places a little further and a little fuller, just as Bourdain did.
Honestly, when I saw the title of this book with Anthony Bourdain printed boldly on the cover, I jump to the conclusion that this book included new writing by Bourdain himself. Perhaps there is something in the vault, something that had yet to be released, his last thoughts and words. Yet that wasn’t the case. While I was a bit disappointed at first because I allowed myself to hope for the impossible, I quickly began to appreciate this book for what it is.
This book encompasses a collection of Bourdain’s thoughts on each destination, in the form of quotes from his television series. While it doesn’t include new writing, it strings together bits and pieces of previous work to tell his story of each destination. The co-author meticulously chose quotes of Bourdain and added in additional practical information about each destination. Unless you have watched every episode of every Bourdain series, you probably haven’t memorized these quotes and destinations. And if you do have all these episodes memorized, I’m guessing that you love Anthony Bourdain so much that you will enjoy seeing these quotes and destinations presented in a new way.
It is not the most practical guidebook. Rather it is an inspiring guide, whether you are deciding where to travel or want to experience some armchair travel. But that is why I love it! It has some practical bits of information and gives the reader some insight into how they could actually make a trip to that destination possible. (Where the destination is, how to get that, and all the good stuff.) But, more importantly, it’s interesting. For the most part, practical information changes all the time. It’s better to search for it online, where it can be updated more frequently.
This book took me a while to get through. I’m still reading and re-reading some chapters. It’s not that “World Travel: An Irreverent Guide” is uninteresting. It is actually too interesting. Every time I read a chapter, I find myself subsequently researching the destination and streaming the episodes that are highlighted in each chapter.
I really enjoyed this guide. However, my only issue about this guidebook is that it is not really a book authored by Anthony Bourdain. It is a book about Anthony Bourdain and inspired by his travels. While he may have had insight into the structure of this book before his passing, this book is truly written by Laura Woolever. It is unfortunate that her byline is after Anthony Bourdain’s as she is the true author and sourced quotes from Anthony Bourdain’s previous works.
P.S. If you buy the book here, the book sales will go to independent bookshops!
“It was never my intention to be a reporter, a critic, an advocate. It was also never my intention to provide audiences with “everything” they needed to know about a place—or even a balanced or comprehensive overview. I am a storyteller. I go places, I come back. I tell you how the places made me feel. Through the use of powerful tools like great photography, skillful editing, sound mixing, color correction, music (which is often composed specifically for the purpose), and brilliant producers, I can—in the very best cases—make you feel a little bit like I did at the time. At least I hope so. It’s a manipulative process. It’s also a deeply satisfying one.”
-Anthony Bourdain, 2012
“All of us, when we travel, look at the places we go, the things we see, through different eyes. And how we see them is shaped by our previous lives, the books we’ve read, the films we’ve seen, the baggage we carry.”
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