Around the World in Fifteen Friends by Tynan is an entertaining and short read, yet still mind-expanding and interesting. You can almost feel Tynan’s curiosity for life come through, and each story is short enough for the book to be easily finished, yet still engaging; all are well-told, and you’ll learn about things like a family in Japan famous internationally for their quality of tea and personal hospitality.
What It’s About
It’s a collection of short stories by Tynan, detailing numerous memorable situations from his travels (including the Life Nomadic project, where he and a friend sold everything and went nomadic with tiny backpacks, years and years ago – that’s also a book by him which is an interesting read, as well as a how-to).
Why I picked it
After finishing What do you say after you say hello?, I was looking for a lighter and shorter read than a psychology book (even one written with the interested layman in mind). I wanted to read something with a plot – just any kind of story – but I’ve been put off of fiction a bit lately; novels usually have to fit a plot, and therefore the main characters get plot armor, other characters are flattened into 2-dimensional archetypes to serve as plot devices, and the narrative itself is almost railroaded to its conclusion.
Tynan’s stories come from real-life situations that came about organically, with response to and with real people.
What I got out of it
Continuing the point about the narratives coming about organically, the book was an enjoyable read, and broadened my worldview a bit. Learning about different types of people I’d never imagined before helped me shake loose some preconceptions I had of how life “should” be (who knew that there’s a family that farms organic tea in Japan, and has a lifestyle reminiscent of a cross between Middle Ages farming and modern global commerce?), opening up my perspective a bit.
The stories themselves were also enjoyable, well-written, and easily digestable; I cruised through the book over the course of two dinners, and had a great time for only $5.
Who I’d recommend it to
I’d highly recommend it to anyone interested in traveling, and anyone that has lived in the same country for their entire life (like me, even if you have traveled outside). Exposure to other viewpoints and lifestyles is a great thing, and this is a small bit of that for a very small price.
Other than that, I’d recommend it casually to just about anybody. For the price of your morning coffee or a bagel, you get some cool stories told by somebody living a lifestyle you might never encounter in your life. Like reading history, it opens you up a little more to what’s out there.
A few of my favorite quotes
I didn’t take notes or highlight anything, as this was a casual read over meals, but one scene remains pretty clearly in my head: the story of how he and his friends remodeled an actual school bus, and toured lots of America in it.
That’s just cool.
Most of the stories are wacky in a great way like that, and throughout the entire collection you can feel Tynan’s enthusiasm for them.
Best $5 I’ve spent in the past few months.