Reviewed by: BigAl
Genre: Travel Memoir
Approximate word count: 20-25,000 words
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“Keith Maginn was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, the youngest of four kids. He attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, as an Evans Scholar. After earning a Bachelor's degree in Sociology, Keith relocated to Knoxville, Tennessee, to work for AmeriCorps (a service organization like the Peace Corps, but within the United States) and for Knoxville Habitat for Humanity.
Keith recently moved back to Cincinnati after living nearly ten years in Tennessee. He likes to be around family and friends and has eight nieces and nephews that he adores. He loves playing and watching many sports and also enjoys live music, writing, meditation, yoga and reading.”
“In mid-July of 2011, Keith Maginn, and his friend, Emily, set off from Cincinnati, Ohio, on a 3,000-mile road-trip through several southeastern states. The pair stopped in Memphis, New Orleans, Savannah, Charleston, Asheville and smaller towns in between. Goodwill Tour: Paying It Forward is a travelogue detailing a philanthropic experiment in this incredible country the two call home.
What makes their trip unique—and Maginn’s book fresh—is that sightseeing wasn’t their sole purpose. Emily and Keith were determined to spread kindness as they worked to make a difference in the lives of others along the way. They gave their own money to hand-picked strangers, who then had to pay the money forward to someone else.”
The idea of what I call a “travel quest,” travel with a measurable goal of some kind, is one I understand. It may be something many have done, for example visit all fifty of the United States, or much less common (one book I read recently involved riding a bicycle around the world). Goodwill Tour involves what at first blush seems a relatively simple quest, to visit a list of cities and give money to strangers with the proviso that these people would pass the money on to someone in need, paying it forward.
Of course, even the simplest trips can have complications (just working out the logistics and specifics of this trip from a high level idea and in a short time, was impressive). Following the author, Keith, and his friend, Emily, on the trip was fun and inspiring. I enjoyed hearing about their experiences doing some of the typical touristy things in each city, but obviously what is unique about this book is their struggle to find the right recipient for their money. It turns out to be more difficult than you’d think since they attempted to vet the person chosen. In several cities we also get a glimpse at the characteristics of the city off the typical tourist trail as Keith and Emily interact with residents and charitable organizations.
While I enjoyed reading Goodwill Tour, I have one quibble that, depending on the reader, might cut the other way. This was several sections that quoted other travel books (most of which I’ve read and are good) to illustrate something. They served their purpose, but there were times when I wished the author had told us in his own words rather than relying on others so much.
No significant issues with typos.
A small number of hyphens in the middle of words where not needed. (For an example, you can see this using the look inside function on Amazon where ‘involve’ shows as ‘in-volve.’ However, this issue, while happening more than a handful of times, it isn’t many more than that.)
Rating: **** Four stars