The Best American Travel Writing, 2005

Jamaica Kincaid (ed.)

Published just in time for cozying up by the home fire and fantasizing of traveling to far-off lands, the latest collection in this 6-year-old series might be the best yet: 25 stories that take us from the shores of Lake Superior (William Least Heat-Moon’s “By the Big Sea Water,” from Gourmet) to Chiang Mai, Thailand (Tom Ireland’s “My Thai Girlfriends,” from The Missouri Review). These are gems, chronicling the pleasures and rewards, the pains and difficulties, and ultimately the self-discovery of traveling. The best of the best? Perhaps Simon Winchester’s “Welcome to Nowhere,” from National Geographic Adventure, in which, on the nearly deserted South Atlantic Ascension Island, he experiences an “astonishing grand conjunction—of new friendship, of tropical warmth, of strawberries and cream, and cool white wine, of white sand and sea swimming, and of Brazilian sea turtles, an eclipse of the moon, and the rising of a comet … perhaps the greatest wealth of experience any one individual could experience in a one moment.”