Miracle in the Andes by Nando Parrado, with Vince Rause

miracle in the andesIn 1972, a charter flight carrying 45 people, including a Uruguayan rugby team, crashed on a glacier in the Argentinian Andes.  In Miracle in the Andes, Nando Parrado recounts his experience as a survivor: the grief of losing his mother in the crash and his sister soon after, the slow fading of hope for a rescue, and his resolve to attempt a dangerous trek out of the mountains in search of civilization.  Written 30 years after the crash, Parrado’s memoir still carries all the urgency, suspense, and harrowing detail as if he were telling it in real time.

Quote:
“For a brief, magical moment, all my fears lifted, and I knew that I would not let death control me.  I would walk through the godforsaken country that separated me from my home with love and hope in my heart.  I would walk until I had walked all the life out of me, and when I fell I would die that much closer to my father.”

Author:
Nando Parrado is a Uruguayan author, public speaker, and television producer.  In 2010, the World Business Forum selected him as the “Best Public Speaker in the World.”

Published:  2006
Length:  304 pages
Set in:  Argentina, Uruguay

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The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey by Ernesto Che Guevara

motorcycle diariesIn 1950, 23-year-old Guevara and his friend Alberto Granado decided to take a year off from their studies to travel South and Central America on a motorbike they called La Poderosa.  Carrying few possessions and little money, they left Buenos Aires for a nine-month journey through Argentina, Peru, Chile, and several other countries.  Along the way, they sleep in fields and barns, visit leper colonies, fall off the bike more times than they can count, work on board a steamship in exchange for free passage, and witness the poverty and injustice that would inform Guevara’s infamous revolutionary career.

Quote:
“At night, after the exhausting games of canasta, we would look out over the immense sea, full of white-flecked and green reflections, the two of us leaning side by side on the railing, each of us far away, flying in his own aircraft to the stratospheric regions of our own dreams.  There we understood that our vocation, our true vocation, was to move for eternity along the roads and seas of the world. ”

Author:
Ernesto Che Guevara (1928-1967) was a doctor, writer, and revolutionary guerrilla leader who played a large role in the Cuban Revolution of the 1950s.  He was captured and executed in 1967 while attempting to gather a guerrilla militia in the mountains of Bolivia.

Published:  1993
Length:  175 pages
Set in:  Argentina; Chile; Peru; Ecuador; Colombia; Venezuela; Panama; and Florida, United States

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The Old Patagonian Express: By Train through the Americas by Paul Theroux

old patagonian expressIn Boston, Massachusetts, Paul Theroux boards a train.  The subsequent journey takes him through lush landscapes and harsh deserts, finds him struggling with fellow passengers, and reading to the blind author Jorge Luis Borges.  From Mexico to Honduras to Costa Rica and Colombia, Theroux brings his signature wit, snark, and keen observation.

Quote:
“Reading alters the appearance of a book. Once it has been read, it never looks the same again, and people leave their individual imprint on a book they have read. Once of the pleasures of reading is seeing this alteration on the pages, and the way, by reading it, you have made the book yours.”  

Author:
Paul Theroux is the author of more than three dozen books, including both fiction (The Mosquito Coast, My Secret History) and non-fiction (Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, The Pillars of Hercules, Dark Star Safari).  He lives in London with his family.

Published:  1979
Length:  404 pages
Set in:  United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina

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The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost by Rachel Friedman

good girl's guide to getting lostThe Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost opens with Friedman’s decision to spend a summer in Ireland during college.  After Leaving Ireland, she continues on to Australia and then backpacks through South America.  Misgivings plague her throughout the book — that she isn’t living up to her parents’ expectations, that she is wasting her life traveling, that she has become disconnected from the “real world” — but they never outweigh her love of the journey.

Quote:
“As centuries of inebriated Irish before me have surely found strange wisdom at the bottom of their Guinness glasses, so too do I as I polish off my third one: apparently, I am not the center of the universe, and the earth will continue to revolve around the sun whether or not I decided to spend a puposeless summer in Ireland.  This is the kind of revelation that is liberating when you are drunk, and rather depressing when you are sober, but luckily, at the moment I am the former.”

Author:
Rachel Friedman has lived, worked, or traveled in twenty countries.  She currently teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.  The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost is her first book.

Published:  2011
Length:  386 pages
Set in:  Australia, Ireland, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Chile

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