Thursday, December 27, 2012

Biittner's Book Reviews: The Voluntourist by Ken Budd

I read this book at the recommendation of some dear friends of mine (we have an informal book club of sorts on facebook), and I am so glad that this book found its way into my bedside book pile. Simply, I loved it. The Voluntourist by Ken Budd follows the author's volunteer work, undertaken as a way to deal with some major life events (turning 40, the unexpected loss of his father, realizing he would not be a father himself). I found Budd's struggles to be extremely relate-able; it reminded me of where I was not too long ago facing a wide range of decisions at the end of my PhD program with motherhood being just one. His desire to find peace through giving back to others really resonated as well.  It was his soul-bearing honesty that really struck me, in particular his difficulties navigating in different cultures. As an Anthropologist I found it really refreshing when he writes about culture shock and the barriers in communication (both in terms of spoken language and in body language) he encountered. He is a great story teller, capturing the personalities of the people he met along the way in such simple yet insightful ways and constructing a strong sense of place. I found his story engaging, compelling, heartbreaking, and uplifting. I laughed out loud at certain parts (being shocked by all the mzungu is something I've experienced many times in Tanzania), and cried at others (the relationship between the grandfather and grandson in China is so beautiful). I would highly recommend this book. 

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a great (and inspiring) read. I'll have to check it out!