Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Where the Hell is Matt?: Dancing Badly Around the World by Matt Harding

Released: June 2009

One of the most entertaining and fun travel books I've ever read, Where the Hell is Matt is not a memoir to pass up!

Several years ago, Matt Harding was a software designer in Los Angeles when he realized he didn't want to waste away sitting in an office day after day working on projects he hated. After quitting his job, he decided to take a break from corporate America and travel to various destinations across the globe. With what started as a silly whim, he began having people videotape him at each locale while dancing his now-popular, nearly trademark dance screaming of white-boy syndrome (which is actually shown as cool flip-art in the book).

Where the Hell is Matt explains how Harding's traveling and dancing became an international phenomenon and is chock-full of his numerous, hilarious traveling anecdotes. By doing what he loved best and sincerely enjoying his travels, the book also explains how he landed the best gig possible: sponsorship by a major company that funded his additional travels around the world.

First of all, I highly recommended watching the YouTube video that helped Harding achieve his massive popularity because it will help you enjoy the book more. After finishing Where the Hell is Matt, I was drawn to watching it a second time so I could match his experiences in the book to the video. The direct link to his YouTube video is here: Video -- Where the Hell is Matt? and is only four and a half minutes long -- definitely worth every second.

Where the Hell is Matt is enjoyable for a number of reasons: for one, Harding is a normal guy who had the guts to quit his boring 9-5 job and visit places the majority of people will never visit in their lifetime. Second, his humble and completely amiable personality makes Harding entirely likable and you can't help but sincerely enjoy his tales.

Where the Hell is Matt encompasses everything a travel memoir should, while genuinely igniting interest in the most cynical of readers. From an informational perspective, this book is also a great volume to reference when you want to select or weed out potential vacation locales. I definitely don't want to visit the Demilitarized Zone in Korea or Lancelin, Australia (those sand dunes kick my ass every time) but Fiji, Poland, and Tonga sure do look like fun places to visit.

Where the Hell is Matt now ranks at the top of my list in favorite travel memoirs along with There's No Toilet Paper...On the Road Less Traveled by Doug Lansky (2005), Plane Insanity by Elliott Hester (2003) and most travel memoirs by Bill Bryson.

               There's No Toilet Paper . . . on the Road Less Traveled: The Best of Travel Humor and Misadventure (Travelers' Tales)      Plane Insanity: A Flight Attendant's Tales of Sex, Rage, and Queasiness at 30,000 Feet      I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After 20 Years Away

What is your favorite travel memoir? What is the funniest travel memoir you have ever read?

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