The Voluntourist: Book summary and reviews of The Voluntourist by Ken Budd

The Voluntourist

A Six-Country Tale of Love, Loss, Fatherhood, Fate, and Singing Bon Jovi in Bethlehem

By Ken Budd

The Voluntourist
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  • Published in USA  May 2012,
    464 pages.

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Book Summary

Ken Budd's The Voluntourist is a remarkable memoir about losing your father, accepting your fate, and finding your destiny by volunteering around the world for numerous worthy causes: Hurricane Katrina disaster relief in New Orleans, helping special needs children in China, studying climate change in Ecuador, lending a hand - and a heart - at a Palestinian refugee camp in the Middle East, to name but a few. Ken's emotional journey is as inspiring and affecting as those chronicled in Little Princes and Three Cups of Tea.

At once a true story of powerful family bonds, of sacrifice, of self-discovery, The Voluntourist is an all-too-human, real-life hero whom you will not soon forget.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Not for readers easily frustrated with wandering thoughts, but a solid introduction to the world of volunteer tourism and a pleasant diversion for those who don't mind a winding road." - Kirkus Reviews

"In Kenya, Budd finally experiences a spiritually uplifting resolution of his journey of self-discovery, realizing that we live up to those who shaped us by honoring their strongest values, by caring for those we cherish, and caring for those that they cherished.'" - Publishers Weekly

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Reader Reviews

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Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Karen E. (Sandy, UT)
Very enjoyable book
It was very interesting to go on Ken Budd's journeys to different lands. I found his total honesty about his motives very refreshing. He gave such a good view of how much need there is in the world and how in small ways we all can help. I liked that everything didn't turn out perfect, because this is real life.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Chris H. (Wauwatosa, WI)
Full Circle
The life of Ken Budd as a "Voluntourist" is compelling and and while being his own personal journey I found it really resonated with me. He came to a time in his life when he felt a need for something more. This need led him around the world where he was filling needs of others. The whole coming full circle is wonderful to read. Thanks, Ken Budd, for sharing this part of your life!

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by WDH (New Port Richey, FL)
Wanderer
I enjoyed most of the book - the author has a good sense of humor and can tell a story. I also believe he had good intentions with his 'voluntourism' activities. He does wander a bit more than necessary in telling some of the stories though. I also struggled with some of the more personal aspects that seem rather self-centered on the author's part. He's sad and decides to take off volunteering and doesn't really seem to consider the impact on his existing relationships. However, having recently lost my father, I could relate to the feeling of wanting to make a difference somehow.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Sharon W. (Two Rivers, WI)
The Voluntourist
I totally loved this book. I felt like I was right there with them. I love to volunteer also, but have never gone out of the country. It's amazing what people do to help others.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by John D. (Garland, TX)
Very enjoyable
I enjoyed this book. It is well written and the author has a good sense of humor. Each of the projects he volunteered for was interesting to learn about.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Penny N. (Saginaw, MI)
Paying to volunteer
If you're thinking about the concept of paying your own way to volunteer in the world this is the book to read. The author documents his time in 6 different countries. The most inspirational and memorable one takes place in Palestine at Christmas. At the back of the book are great guidelines to follow when picking your organization to volunteer with. Ken Budd's volunteer trips start with helping to clean up the mess of Katrina and then tells the stories of working in China, Kenya, Costa Rica and Ecuador. At the beginning of the trip to Palestine the author said he was not going to judge either the Israelis or the Palestinians - as he writes about the volunteering and the things he sees happen in front of him and to him, you realize what nasty little game Israel is playing in the Middle East. The book was totally enjoyable. But I felt the author injected too much of his personal mourning for his dead father and the fact that he and his wife (both over 40) had not had a child of their own into the book.

...11 more reader reviews

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Ken Budd is an award-winning writer and editor whose writing credits include Smithsonian, the Washington Post, McSweeney's, Stuff, Washingtonian, Modern Humorist, Opium, Worldview, and AARP: The Magazine. Ken lives in Burke, Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife.

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