What We Loved This Year: Our Favorite World Hum Stories

Lists: In which we pick a few stand-outs from the pieces we published in 2010

12.31.10 | 12:45 PM ET

Antarctica (iStockPhoto)

Every Friday, we typically look outward and share something travel-related that each of us loved during that week. To end the year, we’re looking inward at our favorite World Hum stories from 2010. Once we decided to close out the year this way, it quickly became clear how tough it would be for us to each narrow down our picks to just five. So many people have contributed terrific stories, rants, cartoons, graphics and more to the site, we’re leaving quite a few stories we loved off our lists. So consider this as our starting point, a handful of pieces that, we think, represent the depth and quality of the contributions to World Hum this year. Happy new year!

—The editors

Jim Benning

A Welcome Rooftop in the Heart of Pakistan
I thought this Joshua Berman piece captured the feeling so many of us have had in a far-off place, perhaps a backpacker dive, when we’re meeting other travelers, sharing ideas and even changing travel plans.

Words Are Like Icebergs
A beautiful essay from Frank Bures about language. We took the title from the piece itself, and this line: “Words in other languages are like icebergs: The basic meaning is visible above the surface, but we can only guess at the shape of the vast chambers of meaning below.” 

Ode to the Summer Vacation
I love the sense of nostalgia in Terry Ward’s piece. It had a lot of heart, and was reminiscent, I thought, of something you might find in a Joan Didion collection.

Travel Snapshot: What Are We Travel Writing About?
This just cracked me up.

Taking the Greyhound to America
I love a good audio slideshow: There’s something intimate about hearing a writer’s voice. This one from Sophia Dembling is intensely personal, and yet it somehow manages to evoke the epic feel of Simon & Garfunkel’s “America.”

Eva Holland

Travel Cartoon: A Tourist Taken Too Soon
I got a serious kick out of columnist Tom Swick’s foray into cartooning. The eight-word caption says so much.

An Unexpected Trip
Katherine Lonsdorf’s story about being assaulted by a cab driver in Jordan will stick with me for a long time. I really admire the courage and self-reflection that writing a piece like this must require.

Sea Change
Again, I was impressed by the honesty and bravery of Catha Larkin’s story about a kayaking trip to Baja prompted by her husband’s infidelity.

The Photographer and the Philosopher
This Pico Iyer story was a real treat: one of the great travel writers turning his attention and skills to two more of the greats—V.S. Naipaul and my all-time favorite, Jan Morris. I’ve never read a better explanation of her gifts of observation and description, the way she chooses precise details to get to the very heart of a place.

100 Most Celebrated Travel Books
I loved the process of compiling our list, and I also loved the end result—a travel-themed reading list that’s likely to last me for years.

Michael Yessis

23 Great Fake Travel Quotes
A goofy blog post about a goofy line about travel spurred a query for more goofiness, which evolved into a burst of cleverness and comedy from travel Tweeters. An amazing example of how the internet can bring many people together to create something none of them likely could have accomplished on their own.

Googling Romeo
Another story where the internet and travel collide in an interesting way. Claire Bushey’s story about tracking down a travel crush online was intimate and powerful.

The Elusiveness of the Northern Lights
An evocative story by Dario DiBattista, a Marine on an icy road trip from Kenai, Alaska to Baltimore, Maryland. I loved the details in this piece, from the relationship between longtime friends to the description of the Northern Lights.

The Leap at Crater Lake
I loved the rawness and vulnerability in this very personal story by Amy Eward. Amazing photo, too.

The Roads Between Us: A Journey Across Africa
Machine guns. Broken down buses. A “miniature version of MC Hammer, circa 1987.” A beautiful, big-hearted epic by Frank Bures.

8 Comments for What We Loved This Year: Our Favorite World Hum Stories

Ben Keene 01.03.11 | 10:29 AM ET

I also enjoyed Joshua Berman’s story. It made me ask myself why I wasn’t planning another trip, right that very moment.

Penny 01.03.11 | 10:49 AM ET

A great compilation of the year’s best. I loved “What Are We Travel Writing About?” So funny, yet true. I can’t wait to see what 2011 brings!

Sean O'Neill 01.12.11 | 6:17 PM ET

What a great year of writing overall! (I cast my vote for Joshua Berman’s story, too.)

Steph 01.15.11 | 10:33 AM ET

Your lists are in my own opinion, the best post of 2010. This year I am looking forward to more like these if not better. The epic by Frank Bures really touched me. Of course the 23 great fake travel quotes amused me. All the others are great read.

Alex Rascanu 01.27.11 | 3:06 PM ET

Great travel articles!

Layne 01.27.11 | 9:08 PM ET

Googling Romeo gets my vote!

Ali C 01.29.11 | 12:58 PM ET

Great use of tags - Shameless Self-Promotion, Travel Writing

We are occasionally offered articles from travel writers on guest travel writers and although some are clearly primarily for self promotion we haven’t dared to use that as a tag - YET!

Alisha @ Karnataka Tourism 02.17.11 | 2:50 AM ET

I liked The Elusiveness of the Northern Lights and Sea Change very much. Others are also good. Great collection.

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