The best books on solo travel from a guy who roller skated across France

Who am I?

Beyond a passion for yachting and flying, sharing adventures in memoir is my true passion. For better or worse, the soul cannot return from a hair-raising adventure as the same person. From roller skating across France as a teen, to sinking ships, being circled by pirates, or surviving an airplane crash, writing these stories brings true action to the pages. Writing memoir also forces me to learn and share life lessons so others won’t have to do it the hard way. Reading true adventures and memoirs lets me share the soul of my fellow travelers for a moment, and live that adrenaline high from the comfort of a reading chair. 


I wrote...

French Roll: Misadventures in Love, Life, and Roller Skating Across the French Riviera

By J Michael Jarvis,

Book cover of French Roll: Misadventures in Love, Life, and Roller Skating Across the French Riviera

What is my book about?

From the icy peaks of Germany to the steamy beaches of France, this coming-of-age story begins when Michael, 19, gets a letter from his girlfriend asking him to meet her in Barcelona. He quits his daredevil job at the top of the German Alps and plots a risky two-month trek across the coast of southern France—alone, on roller skates. 

Even being chased down impossibly steep mountain roads by tour busses and ritzy sports cars can’t keep an American teenager down, especially when he’s delivering an engagement ring… and a dark confession. It was supposed to be fun and easy, but when disaster strikes his love life and a spectacular wipeout leaves him a heartbeat away from roadkill status, Michael must learn some difficult lessons about growing up.
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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

J Michael Jarvis Why did I love this book?

Beyond the eloquence in Strayed’s prose is a gritty story of a young lady on a long, perilous mission to accomplish nothing. There is no prize money for her effort, she had no team coaching and inspiring her to win, and not a sponsor or charity in sight to claim a victory for. I found the sheer power of “I can do this thing” drives the story step by step, page by page. A solo travel memoir reveals gold nuggets when the author puts us on the road with them, equally feeling the need to complete the mission.

By Cheryl Strayed,

Why should I read it?

24 authors picked Wild as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again.

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the…


Book cover of A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

J Michael Jarvis Why did I love this book?

Bryson makes us all laugh. His years in England baked in a dry, straight-man humor to complement his midwestern goofiness, and brings home a basket of laughter in every chapter. From the pithy title of the book (for such an ominous adventure) through a fabulous story of endurance, his need to walk 2,100 miles is often questioned internally without a quality answer. “Because it is there” is a sentiment for those with a screw loose, and one I resonate with and deeply admire. 

By Bill Bryson,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked A Walk in the Woods as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of "Notes from a Small Island" and "The Lost Continent" comes this humorous report on his walk along the Appalachian Trail. The Trail covers 14 states and over 2000 miles, and stretches along the east coast of America from Maine in the north to Georgia in the south. It is famous for being the longest continuous footpath in the world. It snakes through some of the wildest and most specactular landscapes in America, as well as through some of its most poverty-stricken and primitive backwoods areas.


Book cover of The Dog Stars

J Michael Jarvis Why did I love this book?

Blunt and perturbed, Heller’s inspirational tale astonishes and delights with laughter in this cringeworthy and vulnerable novel that will have you rereading passages with a lump in your gut. One of my most powerful reads in years, The Dog Stars reminds us of the fragile society we live in, and how it all could change with marshal law survival at stake. Trust no one, leave no trace, and fly the airplane like your life truly depends on it. As a professional pilot, I found the aviation scenes accurate and believable, even with a dropped jaw of disbelief through the tough passages. Heller’s unique prose is like nothing I’ve read before or after; a style that says so much with so few words. 

By Peter Heller,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked The Dog Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE ROAD - but with hope. Hig, bereaved and traumatised after global disaster, has three things to live for - his dog Jasper, his aggressive but helpful neighbour, and his Cessna aeroplane. He's just about surviving, so long as he only takes his beloved plane for short journeys, and saves his remaining fuel. But, just once, he picks up a message from another pilot, and eventually the temptation to find out who else is still alive becomes irresistible. So he takes his plane over the horizon, knowing that he won't have enough fuel to get back. What follows is scarier…


Book cover of A Pirate Looks at Fifty

J Michael Jarvis Why did I love this book?

Amazing true adventures are the heart and soul of memoir. As Jimmy Buffet and his crew plan a seaplane adventure to celebrate his 50th birthday down Latin America, across to Colombia, and further into the Caribbean, I was ready to read the depth of stories the likes of which might inspire so many of my favorite songs. The adventure was lost on me when he followed the seaplane by jet, meeting the crew in Costa Rica. Further south, they ran into “trouble in Cartagena.” As a boat captain and pilot with Colombian pirate experience, I was looking for stories of real, relatable trouble. Good stories, but the grit I was looking for from a Jimmy Buffet adventure wasn’t there. 

By Jimmy Buffett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Pirate Looks at Fifty as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For the millions of fans of Jimmy Buffett's music as well as his bestselling books, Tales From Margaritaville and Where Is Joe Merchant?, here is the ultimate Jimmy Buffett philosophy on life and how to live it.  As hard as it is to believe, the irrepressible Jimmy Buffett has hit the half-century mark and, in A PIRATE LOOKS AT 50, he brings us along on the remarkable journey which he took through the Southern hemisphere to celebrate this landmark birthday.
        
Jimmy takes us from the legendary pirate coves of the Florida Keys to the ruins of ancient Cartegena.  Along the…


Book cover of Outliers: The Story of Success

J Michael Jarvis Why did I love this book?

Gladwell observes coherent insights and delivers answers as to what made an extraordinarily successful person. Outliers, as I now understand them, are not entirely self-made, but the product of a few lucky circumstances, ethnicity, genetics, family background, and breaks combined with 10,000 hours of practice and hard work in their field. My perceptions of success and being successful have changed. If you work that hard at anything, I believe the luck and the breaks will ultimately find their way to your door.

By Malcolm Gladwell,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Outliers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the past decade, Malcolm Gladwell has written three books that have radically changed how we understand our world and ourselves: The Tipping Point, Blink, and Outliers. Regarded by many as the most gifted and influential author and journalist in America today, Gladwell has the rare ability to connect with audiences of tremendously varied interests. There are over 10 million copies of his books in print. Now, Gladwell's landmark investigations into the world around us are collected together for the first time. Beautifully repackaged and redesigned, with newly added illustrations throughout each book, COLLECTED is a perfect treasury of prose…


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A Last Serenade for Billy Bonney

By Mark Warren,

Book cover of A Last Serenade for Billy Bonney

Mark Warren Author Of Indigo Heaven

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Composer Archer Teacher Grateful

Mark's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

In this deeply researched novel of America's most celebrated outlaw, Mark Warren sheds light on the human side of Billy the Kid and reveals the intimate stories of the lesser-known players in his legendary life of crime. Warren's fictional composer and Santa Fe journalist, John Blessing, is assigned to report on a jailed prisoner who calls himself "Willima H. Bonney," but what begins as a formal interview evolves into an unexpected relationship and a self-examination of Blessing's own cultured, city values.

After the Kid's death, Blessing embarks on a journey to find Billy's comrades and acquaintances - those who loved the Kid... and others who despised him. Ride along with John Blessing as he unravels one of Western history's most fascinating enigmas.

A Last Serenade for Billy Bonney

By Mark Warren,

What is this book about?

In this deeply researched novel of America's most celebrated outlaw, Mark Warren sheds light on the human side of Billy the Kid, and reveals the intimate stories of the lesser-known players in his legendary life of crime. Warren's fictional composer and Santa Fe journalist, John Blessing, is assigned to report on a jailed prisoner who calls himself "William H. Bonney," but what begins as a formal interview evolves into an unexpected relationship and a self-examination of Blessing's own cultured, city values.

After the Kid's death, Blessing embarks on a journey to find Billy's comrades and acquaintances - those who loved…


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