Thought Catalog


Tell Me Which American Girl Doll You Owned, And I’ll Tell You Who You Are…

Posted: 24 Jul 2015 11:49 AM PDT

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1. Samantha

The Samantha doll was undoubtedly the prettiest, and you highkey made that clear to all your friends whenever you brought her over for playdates. You spent hours brushing her glossy bangs, straightening the perfection that was her plaid bow, and carefully perusing the American Girl Doll catalogue for other glamorous Victorian era items for good ol' Sam (remember how her bed was legit nicer than yours?). Arguably, the only good quality you gained from having a Samantha doll was the inherited sixth sense to tell, when meeting someone, if they also had a Samantha doll growing up.

Kit
Kit

2. Kit

The girls who had Kit were always soooooooooooo nice. And you definitely owned at least one matching outfit with your doll. You were the only person to ever actually read the accompanying American Girl doll adventure books, and you were always secretly frustrated that you could never style Kit's hair because it was so short. As a Kit girl, you love wearing wool cardigans, you own knee socks, and you get your news exclusively from print newspapers.

Molly
Molly

3. Molly

If you had Molly, you probably wanted Samantha. Molly was the least showy doll in the collection, but at least she could tap dance?? And as much as you wanted to fight it, you identified with Molly—whether it was because you were bad at math, read constantly, or wore glasses—and thus were typically the most well-rounded kid growing up; a quality that wouldn't really be appreciated until you got older. As a Molly girl, you falsely deny wanting attention, bought a beret that one time but have never worn it in public, and since your American Girl days, have gotten contact lenses.

Kirsten
Kirsten

4. Kirsten

You got Kirsten because you were blond, but didn't want Kit (it's all about the hair length). Kirsten had an elaborate hairstyle that you were always so nervous someone was going to accidentally tangle or undo (you had just learned how to do a braid, there was no way you were going to recreate that loopy thing). You were the only person in your entire school who loved studying about the colonial era. You taught yourself how to knit, are genuinely amused by cat videos, and have never considered moving out of your hometown (and never will).

Felicity
Felicity

5. Felicity

There are only two reasons why you would've owned Felicity: you had red hair or you wanted to be unique (nobody had Felicity). Your parents were always confused by the inclusion of garters in Felicity's accessories, but you were just bummed that her curls flattened only a couple days after getting her (it was that wretched bonnet cap!). You're that person who heard a song *before it became popular,* you've ridden horses competitively before, and "spunky" is one of the words you list on job applications when you're answering what the best three words to describe you are.

Addy
Addy

6. Addy

It was always questionable why one of Addy's accessories was a gourd (how were you supposed to play with that??), but you were just excited that she already came with pierced ears. Addy's backstory touched on some serious diversity topics—unseen in the other American Girl books. That made you curious and alert to your surroundings as you grew up, shaping you to always keep your eyes peeled for inequality and injustice. Thus, today, you are an avid contributor to YouTube comment sections and have 435,000+ followers on Tumblr.

Kaya
Kaya

7. Kaya

Not many people had Kaya growing up because she was released in 2002, but her hair was **on point** so you were happy to stand out with her (seriously, it was all about the hair). Even though your parents tried to tell you that her clothes weren't really made out of deer and porcupine, you continued telling your friends that anyway. ("Oooooh, Samantha's clothes are made out of cotton? LOL, peasant.") You always secretly wished your name had been ~Speaking Rain~ like Kaya's sister. You were 100% that girl who was obsessed with horses throughout your preteen years, and you've tried every single juice cleanse that exists.

Josefina
Josefina

8. Josefina

Josefina was so cool because she came with earrings and a flower in her hair. Everything about her was so laid back and casual, and she even had a rebozo and fan (American Girl excelled at going over-the-top with the accessories). HER PET WAS A GOAT NAMED SOMBRITA. As a Josefina girl, you give off that coveted ~*~chill vibe~*~ when you walk into a room, you don't wear makeup, and you're probably going to end up marrying some Australian surfer.

9. No American Doll.

It's still a sore subject for you. TC mark

7 Reasons We Need To Stop Leaving Relationships Early Because We’re Not Sure Someone Is “The One”

Posted: 25 Jul 2015 09:22 AM PDT

via Kaitlyn Mae
via Kaitlyn Mae
The concept of 'the one' is not rooted in love, it is rooted in a desire, much like most of everything else we do, to be saved from ourselves. The idea that there is a perfect love that will induce the happiest life is a deflection and defense mechanism and it will keep us from ever actually finding it. Trying to determine whether or not someone is 'the one' – especially early on in a relationship – is the best way to assure nobody ever will be. Here, 7 reasons why.

1. The relationships we can't get over are the ones we never really have in the first place.

People think that the love they can't get past is the fated love they lost, but it's really the love they feel, in some way, they never totally had. They didn't try for, gave up on, decided they didn't want and then decided they were mistaken. The biggest problem with love isn't that we don't have it or are incapable of it, but we expect it to do things it's incapable of doing, and expect it to come from specific forms it can't always come from. All of this to say: ending relationships because we can't identify that they are some hypothetical 'ideal' not only keeps us from finding actual companionship, but it's a source of intense turmoil because we end (what could ultimately be very good for us) before we give it a chance to be.

2. Only wanting to love the 'correct' person teaches you that only ideal people are worth love.

Love doesn't happen because you meet someone who fits a set of criteria. If you choose who to extend your love to because of whether or not they meet a standard you have in your head about what's 'right,' I can guarantee you are doing the same thing to yourself in some way – holding yourself back from actual love because only ideal people are worth it.

3. It teaches you that your love is expendable.

One of the most destructive subconscious beliefs people have is that you can only hold space in your heart for one person. But the capacity of your heart is not a set quantity, it's something you decide. Your love is not a non-renewable resource that you must carefully ration. You don't love someone better only because you've only loved them.

4. It creates the belief that the point of relationships is to find what's right as opposed to build what's right.

The point of relationships is to help us grow – as some people say, they are assignments. We're not meant to have just one relationship that comforts us in some abstract way, we're meant to have a series of them that teach us what we have to know at the time. Monogamy is possible for humans (though ultimately stressful because people grow and then a different partner is better suited for them eventually, etc.) but a valid commitment to make if so you choose. The point is being aware that love is not something that happens, it's something you decide to make happen, and open yourself to.

5. If one trait doesn't align with what you assume to be the ideal partner, confirmation bias will have you seek out supporting evidence to make that so. What you seek, you will find.

If you go into any given relationship with the assumption that the person at hand is not 'the one' because of some arbitrary, rigid standard you set for them, you will ultimately find many reasons that they aren't right because your confirmation bias will start to kick in.

6. You have no way to actually know what you want in 'the one.'

Thinking you know what you want in your ideal partner speaks to the person you are and were, not the person you'll be. People are psychologically incapable of predicting what will make them happy (trying to figure that out = assuming a feeling from the past or solution to a problem can be recreated with similar circumstances). So we really have no idea how to gauge what 'type' of person would be right for us – only the people we were and we think we are currently.

7. Searching for 'the one' is not looking for love, it's a defense mechanism.

It's a way to keep yourself safe, it's the risk-free version of letting yourself love. The idea of 'the one' is the promise of everlasting, unconditionally accepting companionship in which you are safe enough to open your heart and truly experience it. The thing you won't expect is that nobody else can make you feel safe enough to open your heart. You must do that. And if 'the one' crosses your path, you'll miss them regardless. TC mark

5 Ways To Fix Your “Martyr Mom Syndrome”

Posted: 24 Jul 2015 06:47 AM PDT

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Via Melinda Freeman

Supermom. We've all heard this term, referring to the woman who does it all. With a big smile on her face.  They're ladies who are lauded for being strong and selfless—truly super. But as a mom myself, this word always makes me bristle, because in my own in experience with parenthood, and in observing and talking with others, I've found that underneath that bright Mommy smile, there's often not genuine happiness, but exhaustion, and even resentment.

I know, it's complicated. The concept of motherhood and identity is an age-old conversation, one that's ongoing and is partly influenced by culture and family-specific factors. But one of these factors has to do with mom herself, her choices and behaviors, which can lead to martyrdom. Pure intentions sometimes unintentionally transform. (I understand this well. I'm in it, too.) Ultimately, it's a good reminder for all of us, to be aware of when this happens.

Here are five things moms do that lead to martyrdom, plus effective fixes.

1. They don't empower their partners. Women are notorious for not trusting Dad to take care of the kids. Recently I even heard a few women say they asked their husband to "babysit" the kids. Um, a dad is a parent, not hired help.

The fix: The key here is a tough one for many moms to accept: You have to let Dad do things his way. Which means giving up control. This is super hard for some women, but really, so what if the pigtails are crooked? Or the kids eat off napkins in the living room? The bottom line is that he has just as much interest in keeping the kids alive as you do, and if you keep your mind open, you may well learn something from him. Consider it a fresh perspective. Also, kids love alone time with Dad, and you get… freedom!

2. They do everything for their kids. From folding clothes to picking up toys to entertaining their kids every minute, many moms shoulder it all, because that's what it means to be a "good mom," right? But actually, this behavior only teaches kids that the world revolves around them 24/7, which is not a useful life skill.

The fix: Our goal as parents is to raise kids who will live independently in the world. So, let them play alone on age-appropriate equipment at the park. Encourage them to overcome boredom on their own. In addition, you might be surprised to find that even very young children can help with household tasks. For example, toddlers can easily help gather up laundry, preschoolers can clear the table after dinner, and first-graders are capable of taking out the trash. Children can also clean up their own toys. And the best thing of all is that kids feel empowered when they do stuff without you.

3. They don't leave, ever. A few weeks ago, I overheard a mom with school-age children say that she had never been away from her kids for even one night. Her partner stood at her side, insisting he's suggested she go. This might sound extreme, but it's actually not that uncommon. Women often have a hard time legitimizing their individual needs.

The fix: The good news is that it's actually healthy for everyone in the family when parents to spend time away from their kids. For starters, you get a recharge, which positively affects your sense of well-being, making you a more effective mom. Also, it's good when kids see you as an individual, because this provides early insight into the concept of identity. And finally, it's great for kids to spend time with another loving caregiver. So go ahead and sign up for that dance class, girlfriend getaway, or solo mountain adventure.

4. They don't raise the bar high enough. Moms are always lamenting what they have to "give up" when they have kids, especially related to travel and adventure. There's no question that life changes. However, it's still possible to do so many things. It's partly a matter of expecting more from your kids.

The fix: If you don't ask your kids to jump out of their comfort zone, they never have any reason to do so. However, the minute you urge this, you may be surprised at how flexible and adaptable they are, or at how much endurance they have. For example, if you love long walks or hikes but don't think your preschooler will tolerate it, think again. Do you see how they run circles around you every day? They have enough energy. Take them out on a long walk, curb any whining, and reward them for a job well done along the way. If you keep it fun, they'll likely want to do it again, and they'll feel proud of the accomplishment.

5. They complain about all of the above with other moms. Okay, so venting is one thing, and it's healthy for all of us to do this every now and then, because motherhood (and life) is very challenging at times. But there's a line between healthy commiseration and suffocating negativity. Obsessive negativity only perpetuates more negativity.

The fix: If you hang around with a group of women who exclusively bitch about Items 1-4 on this list, take a chance and try to change the conversation. Talk about something that inspired you recently. Or something innovative you discovered in your life. Perhaps mention something that has everything to do with you as an individual. And if you find yourself caught in a negative cycle when you're e-interacting with others (i.e. on social media), pull yourself away and do something that encourages positivity instead, like reading an uplifting magazine article or blog. TC mark

How Are We To Understand The Shadowy Phenomenon Of Suicide?

Posted: 23 Jul 2015 10:02 AM PDT

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Via Katbillings

In May 2013, I organized a suicide note creative writing workshop. It was part of a two-week art installation, in a tiny space on Manhattan's West 21st Street called 'The School of Death' that I curated with my friend Sina Najafi. The pop-up school came about as a rather sly and admittedly smart-alecky reaction to something called The School of Life in London, which retails a rather nauseating philosophy of self-help to the English upper-middle classes in search of some vague notion of enlightenment. It was also intended as a way of poking a stick into the ever-growing ash pile of creative writing classes.

Despite the time of year, it was chilly and it rained constantly on the Saturday afternoon I was scheduled to run the class as a way of closing the show and putting an end to The School of Death. To my surprise, fifteen or so people turned up, along with a journalist from The New York Times, who lurked awkwardly in the doorway. The glass doors of the small space were open in order to allow for people to spread out. Everyone was huddled in coats and jackets against the cold and we sat on the floor. suicide_300x300_gif_070815

One always speaks to someone in a suicide note. Suicide notes are attempts at communication. They are a last and usually desperate attempt to communicate – final communications. They are also failed attempts in the sense that the writer is communicating a failure to communicate, expressing the desire to give up in one last attempt at expression. The suicidal person does not want to die alone, but wants to die with another or others, to whom the note is addressed.

The suicide note might have existed in antiquity, perhaps even as far back as ancient Egypt. But it rose to prominence in its recognizable, modern form in 18th century England as a consequence of literacy and the rapid rise and spread of newspapers. The peculiar thing about 18th century suicide notes is the fact that they were routinely sent to the press by those intending to take their lives. The modern suicide note is in origin, then, a publication, an intensely public act, a perverse piece of publicity. The historical evidence might give us pause when we shroud the suicide note in secrecy, as we now tend to do, and consider it the sacrosanct domain of the spouse or family. Sometimes it is; but often it is not.

Indeed, the desire to keep the details of suicide secret is questionable. As everyone knows, the Golden Gate Bridge is a popular suicide destination. Yet all the suicides jump from the side of the bridge that faces San Francisco. No one wants to jump from the side that faces out to the Pacific Ocean. Peculiar, no? It is, unless one accepts that suicide is very often a public act, an act of publicity. This perhaps begins to explain the popularity of certain suicide locations, like the Brooklyn Bridge, Beachy Head on the south coast of England, Toronto's Bloor Street Viaduct, or the now heavily securitized and fenced-in bridges that span the gorges of Cornell University in upstate New York, a popular Ivy League suicide spot.

The suicide note, then, is a form of display, the symptom of a deliberate exhibitionism. True, for their readers, suicide notes are a kind of pornography. We are allowed to become voyeurs into a hidden or forbidden state of mind and the notes exercise a kind of sick attraction. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't look. We might learn something. It is also arguable that the exhibitionism of the suicide note is a characteristic of the melancholic or depressed person. The odd thing about melancholics – which, lest we forget, includes very many of us – is that they don't keep quiet, but tend to proclaim endlessly and volubly about their misery.

Of course, the paradigm case here is the suicidal Hamlet, who is not just content to feel suisfineprofound grief at the murder of his father and the hurried remarriage of his mother to his father's murderer, but who tells us about it in soliloquy after soliloquy. But what is most striking about Hamlet's speeches is not their delusional quality, but their perspicacity. What he complains about – the nature of grief, the futility of war, the illusory power of theatre, the obscurity of our parents' desire (especially our mother's) and most of all his doubts about the nature of existence – is powerfully true. The ceaseless self-accusations of the melancholic are very often accurate. What we see in Hamlet is a powerful cocktail of depression and exhibitionism.

I love-hate you

Freud gives us the recipe for this cocktail with chilling clarity in his brilliant paper, 'Mourning and Melancholia', from 1917. If mourning is the grief that we feel in response to the death of someone beloved that leads us to lament and plaint, then in melancholia the object of this grief is no longer the dead beloved, but ourselves. What happens in depression, for Freud, is that the self turns against itself, the subject makes itself into an object and complains bitterly. 'Why, what an ass am I!' as Hamlet says. In depression, the self sees itself ass-backwards, as it were, and finds itself horribly wanting and deficient. The self's sadistic urges flip over into a lacerating masochism, where we ceaselessly berate ourselves for our faults. In Freud's terms, the ego's narcissistic self-love becomes the basis for self-hatred.

For Freud, this is the solution to the riddle of suicide, which makes melancholia so fascinating (for we are compelled by Hamlet's endless, staged antics) and so dangerous. The argument here has two important steps. First, Freud writes:

So intense is the ego's self-love, which we have come to recognize as the primal state from which instinctual life proceeds, and so vast is the amount of narcissistic libido which we see liberated in the fear that emerges at a threat to life, that we cannot conceive how the ego can consent to its own destruction.

As Freud writes elsewhere, hate is older than love. Namely, that the primal constitution of the self takes place in a narcissistic libido that seeks self-preservation at all costs. But if that is true, then how is suicide possible? This requires a second step:

The analysis of melancholy now shows that the ego can kill itself only if, owing to the return of object-cathexis, it can treat itself as an object – if it is able to direct against itself the hostility which relates to an object and which represents the ego's original reaction to objects in the external world.

Please ignore the mumbo-jumbo about 'object-cathexis', as Freud's point is crystal clear: given our intense self-love, in order to kill ourselves we have to turn ourselves into objects. More precisely, we have to turn ourselves into objects that we hate. Thus, suicide is, strictly speaking, impossible. I cannot kill myself. What I kill is the hated object that I have become. I hate that thing that I am and I want it to die. Suicide is homicide.

It is this idea of suicide as homicide that David Foster Wallace describes with great precision and pathos in the extraordinary commencement speech given at Kenyon College in 2005, This Is Water. He admits that it is a banality to say that the mind is a great servant but a terrible master. But nonetheless, it is true. And this is the reason why, he goes on, people who commit suicide with firearms shoot themselves in the head rather than the heart. They want to kill that terrible master. This is Freud's point. Suicide is the determination to rid ourselves of what enslaves us: the mind, the head, the brain, that vague area of febrile activity somewhere behind our eyes.

This also partially explains the phenomenon of the suicide note and its mixture of depression and exhibitionism, where self-love becomes hatred and one dies apologizing for one's actions. Before drowning himself in the River Seine, the poet Paul Celan underlined the following line from a biography, 'Sometimes this genius goes dark and sinks down into the bitter well of his heart'. Through writing the suicide note, one turns oneself into an object, an object that is hated and must be drowned in a bitter well. A fifty-year-old Massachusetts man wrote,

'I'm done with life

I'm no good

I'm dead.'

But there is a further twist to the dialectic of the suicide note. The hatred that permits us to overcome our self-love and kill ourselves is also the occasion for the most extreme exclamations of love. It is as though the intensity of self-hatred allows a final, heartfelt and equally intense proclamation of love. These twinned energies of love and hate dramatically pull apart, and we fall into the abyss that opens up beneath us.

iloveyou

The suicide note is the stage where the profound ambivalence of love and hate plays itself out. Kurt Cobain wrote more than one suicide note. On letter paper from a hotel in Rome in March 1994, he wrote 'Like Hamlet, I have to choose between life and death. I choose death'. Cobain's final note, from 5th April 1994, is powerfully revealing. He begins by expressing a yearning for the loving innocence of childhood: 'I'm too sensitive. I need to be slightly numb in order to regain the enthusiasm I had as a child'. The ambivalence then swings around before swinging back:

Since the age of seven, I've become hateful toward all humans in general…I'm too much of an erratic, moody baby! I don't have the passion anymore, and so remember, it's better to burn out than to fade away. Peace, love and empathy, Kurt Cobain.

At the foot of the page, Cobain writes in huge capital letters: 'I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU!' When Courtney Love first read out Cobain's note, she finished by saying to the crowd, 'Just tell him he's a fucker, OK?…and that you love him'. The ambivalence of Cobain's suicide note of love and hate is captured precisely in Love's hate. This is what Jacques Lacan called 'hainamoration', 'hate-love'.

One of the most poignant suicide notes I know is simply:

'Dear Betty:

I hate you.

Love,

George.' TC mark

This article is excerpted from "Suicide" by Simon Crithcley available now from Thought Catalog Books on iBooks and Amazon

"Suicide" is available now on Amazon.

24 Fucked Up Feelings You Can Only Experience In 2015

Posted: 26 Jul 2015 05:57 PM PDT

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Via Learnfern

1. When you catch yourself thinking about a fun future event in terms of the awesome photos you’ll get to post to social media because of it.

2. The sadness that sets in when you realize how much time you've spent comparing Instagram filters—right before returning to the all important task of finding the *exact* right one.

3. The accidental “like” fear that looms while cyberstalking your significant other’s ex.

4. The deliciousness of spotting an ugly (obviously untagged) photo of your significant other's ex in a friend of a friend’s archives.

5. The satisfaction of knowing in your heart that your ex still Googles you sometimes.

6. The relief that accompanies getting someone's voicemail when you return their call out of obligation but you want nothing less than to speak to an actual human.

7. The specific joy that comes with receiving a cancellation text just as you're drafting one, sparing you from hitting send—and from looking like a total flake, like everyone else in your generation.

8. The guilt that sprouts up on occasion as you curate the giant lie that is your online presence.

9. The to-delete-or-not-to-delete conundrum that torments you after noticing a typo in the Tweet you just shared.

10. The moment you realize everyone at the table is staring at their smart phones instead of engaging their real life dinner companions—and that no one feels at all weird about it.

11. The awkward expression you make when you still have no idea what someone said after asking "what?" three times because you're not really used to talking out loud.

12. The stilted way you laugh when you've asked someone to repeat a punchline twice and you still don’t get the joke because it's not a meme and there’s no GIF or graphic.

13. Learning through the Internet that a derelict you looked down on in high school is now vegan and has definitely lapped you in the race to settle down.

14. Learning through the Internet that you might actually like the grown-up version of someone you loathed in high school.

15. Learning through the Internet that you actually kind of hate your celebrity crush.

16. The pleasure of re-watching all the TV commercials that marked your youth on Youtube.

17. The sadness that sets in while re-watching a movie you adored as an adolescent, only to realize that you no longer have the attention span for it.

18. The maddening act of brainstorming yet another new username and password while creating an online account.

19. Then being notified that some version of your go-to password isn't "strong" enough to meet the security requirements.

20. The cognitive dissonance that accompanies rushing to yoga class because your phone says you have to leave NOW to get there on time.

21. Feeling slightly snubbed by someone who consistently "favorites" your Tweets but never ever ReTweets you.

22. The awareness that there are a bunch of people you feel super close to online whom you'll definitely never meet IRL.

23. Nostalgia induced Instagram scrolling.

24. The frustration of leaving your smart phone at home accidentally and being told it's a "blessing in disguise" to be digitally disconnected. AS if. TC mark

13 Books That Will Make You Want To Wander The World

Posted: 20 Jul 2015 06:10 AM PDT

On the road, long journeys require good books. Off the road, there’s nothing like a good book to inspire you to set off to some unknown land. Books inspire, transform, and educate us. Travel books especially teach us about the world around us as we get ready to travel the world and explore lands. Here is a list of some of the funniest, craziest, and most inspiring travel books for you to read on and off the road.

DoTravelWritersGoToHellThe Beach

In Alex Garland's tale about backpackers and their search for paradise, we follows Richard and his quest to "do something different" in Thailand. The book is part adventure and part exploration of why we always search for these utopias and the consequences of that quest.

The Alchemist

This story, one of the most-read books in recent history, follows a young DoTravelWritersGoToHellshepherd boy from Spain to Egypt as he follows his heart, goes with the flow, learns to love, and discovers the meaning of life. I find this to be the classic travel story about going off in search of adventure and learning about yourself and how to live a more meaningful life. If I could give just one book to someone looking to be inspired, this would be it.

Cruising Altitude

CruisingAltitudeHeather Poole's a flight attendant and her quick, light and funny read explores what it's like to work at 35,000 feet. Heather details how flight attendants are picked, their training, what their day-to-day life is like, and how they deal with unruly passengers. The most valuable parts? Tips on how to get on a flight attendant's good side (and potential upgrades and freebies).

Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?DoTravelWritersGoToHell

Thomas Kohnstamm caused a lot of controversy when his book exposed the underbelly of travel writing in 2008. He writes about freebies, plagiarism, and Internet research that writers engage in. As a travel writer, I can tell you while some of what he says happens, he exaggerated a little bit. However, the book itself is smart, witty, and seriously funny.

EatPrayLoveEat, Pray, Love

The staple of all female travel books, I think this book about a privileged white girl on the road makes a wonderful example of how not to travel. This self-indulgent book is wonderfully written but celebrates vapid travel (notice how all the countries she visits being with the letter “I”?). However, if you want a light beach read, this book is for you.

InASunburnedCountryIn A Sunburned Country

Follow Bill Bryson's journey through Australia visiting tiny little mining towns, forgotten coastal cities, and off-the-beaten-path destination inspired me to go to Australia. I think this is one the most well written travel books ever. In typical style, Bryson also includes lots of trivia information as he travels around in awe – and sometimes in fear – of this enormous country.

On the RoadOnTheRoad

Written in 1957, Jack Kerouac's Beat Generation classic is a timeless travel novel. The story follows his character, Sal, and desire to see the world. He leaves New York City and heads west riding the rails, making friends, and partying. Along the way, he learns about life, himself, and what it means to be truly happy. It’s an inspiring tale about leaving convention behind.

OracleBonesOracle Bones

Written by Peter Hessler, this novel about China provides a fascinating look at many aspects of the country in the late 1990s and early 2000s – from its culture to its politics to its food. It’s a great look into life in a very changing time in China from the perspective of its minorities.

ParisWasOursParis Was Ours

This book features thirty-two writers from around the world who share personal stories of how they learned to cook, study, love, and integrate into Parisian life. It demonstrates just how much of a lasting effect Paris can have on people for as Hemmingway said, “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”

SmileWhenYoureLyingSmile When You're Lying

Written by the slightly jaded Chuck Thompson, this book is a humorous criticism of the travel writing industry as it rails against the gloss of travel magazines, overused euphemisms, and the Lonely Planetization of the world. It gives you a lot of insight into the world of travel writing and magazines.

LoveWithAChanceOfDrowningLove With a Chance of Drowning

I couldn't put this down this book by travel blogger Torre DeRoche. It beautifully captures her attempt to overcome her fear of the ocean as she sails across the Pacific with her boyfriend (it was either that or watch him sail away). The way she vividly describes the scenery, the people, and her experience makes me want to follow in her footsteps. It's the best and most inspiring travel book I've read all year.

MarchingPowderMarching Powder

This book is an amazing look into one of the most corrupt prisons in the country and examines how people learn to survive within the system. It’s all about drugs, friendship, corruption, and adventure. All you need in an interesting travel read imagining you’re some swashbuckling adventure down south.

SevenYearsInTibetSeven Years in Tibet

This classic tells the tale of Austrian mountaineer Heinrich Harrer's 1943 escape from British India, his trek across the Himalayas, and his stay in Tibet as the tutor to the young Dalai Lama. It’s fascinating story of culture, friendship, innocence, and history during one of the biggest changes in Tibetan history. TC mark