Why did I love this book?
If Emily Hahn’s real-life adventures were in a novel, you’d say they were completely implausible. I discovered this unorthodox travel journalist when I was in my twenties, longing for my own travel experiences. Born in 1905 when women’s options were limited, Emily simply saw life as an adventure and didn’t let her gender or youth stop her from traveling the world solo. She voyaged to Africa on a steamer; worked for the Red Cross in the Belgian Congo; became a concubine and got hooked on opium in Shanghai; moved to Hong Kong where she helped with underground relief work — all the while writing books and articles for publications like The New Yorker. She inspired me to live life as an adventure and then write about it. (But obviously, without all the affairs and opium!)