Wednesday, June 06, 2012

The Voluntourist by Ken Budd

The Voluntourist by Ken Budd

Completion Date: June 1, 2012
Reason for Reading: TLC Blog Tour.
n. 1. A guy who attempts to save the world in an attempt to save himself.
2. Someone who can only do it two weeks at a time.
When Ken Budd was thirty-nine, his father collapsed after eighteen holes of golf. Ken and his wife raced to the hospital—but it was too late. In the weeks that followed, as grieving friends revealed how his father had changed their lives, Ken started questioning his own life—and admitting, after years of denial, that he and his wife would never have children.
And then, still struggling with grief—his grief at losing his father, his grief at not being a father—Ken received an e-mail with the subject line: “Katrina Relief Volunteer Opportunities.” He signed up. He went to New Orleans. And he kept volunteering: Costa Rica, to teach English; China, to work with special-needs children; Ecuador, to study climate change; the West Bank, to assist refugees; Kenya, to care for orphans. His goal: to find purpose by helping others, one trip at a time.
Wry, funny, and heartbreakingly honest, The Voluntourist will linger in your mind long after you’ve turned the last page.
When I was browsing the TLC Book Site, I saw this book. I wasn't entirely sure if it was for me, but was sold by the interesting subtitle: 'A Six-Country Tale of Love, Loss, Fatherhood, Fate, and Singing Bon Jovi in Bethlehem'. I like travel-type books, but for whatever reason they do not pop up on my reading horizon that often. I have read a couple good ones over the years, but this one takes the travelling differently and sounded like it would be an interesting experience to read about. It starts in Budd's own back yard when he volunteers to help out in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, but it leads him on a path to an entirely different life. He is troubled by the fact that he is never going to be a father and finds that he has to tackle this troubling news by helping out others. It also stems from the recent unexpected loss of his own father.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. I have always wanted to travel the world myself and do some of the unique volunteer experiences available. It hasn't happened for me yet, but it was fun to read about someone else's experiences. He does things that I had never even heard about before let alone thought about doing myself. I did enjoy reading about someone else experiencing those things while I weighed the pros and cons for myself. I like how Ken Budd writes. I never felt bogged down with information and he has a conversational-type style that worked well for this type of book. It is the sort of book where I wasn't blown away, but I wasn't disappointed either. I am happy that I read it and I agree with the Booklist quote on the front: "Readers of this unique travel memoir will undoubtedly be inspired to take a [volunteer trip] of their own." I think that is what I got from this book.

Bottom line: A recommended read. Especially for those that want to have armchair travel experiences.

Other Thoughts:

Tuesday, June 5th: BookNAround
Wednesday, June 6th: Book Club Classics!
Wednesday, June 6th: The Written World
Thursday, June 7th: Travel Spot
Monday, June 11th: Lisa’s Yarns
Tuesday, June 12th: Joyfully Retired
Thursday, June 14th: readerbuzz
Tuesday, June 19th: West Metro Mommy
Saturday, June 23rd: A Life Sustained
Friday, June 29th: Knowing the Difference
Date TBD: My Bookshelf


  1. This sounds like my kind of travel memoir! I actually was going to sign up to review it but I'm too slow. The offer had expired by the time I bothered to go to the review sign-up link. Ah, well.

  2. Nobody seems to be commenting, today. You think Armchair BEA has worn everyone to a frazzle? :)

  3. Interesting! Did his marriage survive or was it strengthened by this travel?

  4. "Singing Bon Jovi in Bethlehem" would definitely get my attention as well!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.


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