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Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World Paperback

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Tales of a Female Nomad: Living at Large in the World + Female Nomad and Friends: Tales of Breaking Free and Breaking Bread Around the World + Life is a Trip: the transformative magic of travel
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (May 28, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609809547
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609809549
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (196 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

When Rita Golden Gelman traveled to Mexico during a two-month separation from her husband, she hoped to satisfy an old craving for adventure and, in the process, rejuvenate herself and her marriage. Little did she know it was the beginning of a new life, not just as a divorcée, but as a nomad of the world. Since 1986, Gelman has had no permanent address and no possessions except those she can carry. She travels without a plan, guided by instinct, serendipitous opportunities, and a remarkable ability to connect with people. At first her family and friends accused her of running away, but Gelman knew she had embarked on a journey of self-discovery and a way of life that is inspiring and enviable.

We know Gelman is not your typical middle-aged housewife from LA when, on that first trip to Mexico, she randomly picks a Zapotec village and decides to live there for a month, knowing nothing about the culture or the language. When she arrives, the villagers run away from her, terrified. By the time she leaves, there are hugs and tears. From there she travels to Guatemala and Nicaragua, Israel and the Galapagos Islands. But the heart of the book--and her 15-year journey--is Indonesia, where she lives for eight years. It is Bali that forever changes how she looks at the world, facilitated by her friendship with an aging prince. Tu Aji not only invites her to live with his family but decides that the education of Rita will be his final duty in life. Wherever she goes, Gelman has an uncanny ability to slip into other ways of life and become part of a community. And she is a person for whom doors open widely--her seatmate on the plane to Bali scrawls the prince's name on a piece of paper, she talks her way into a sojourn at Camp Leakey in Borneo where orangutans are studied, and an entire village in a remote part of Irian Jaya prays for the clouds to clear so her plane can land--and they do! Gelmen's secret is her passion for people. That being the case, the book is short on descriptions of place, but long on the rarer inside view of the peoples and customs of those places. This in itself is treat enough, but Gelman's animated and intimate story comes with a kicker--it's never too late to fulfill those dreams. --Lesley Reed --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Fifteen years ago, the middle-aged Gelman (author of over 70 children's books, including More Spaghetti, I Say!) left behind an upscale California lifestyle and fading marriage to begin an odyssey that continues to this day. Using a well-paced and fluid writing style, Gelman describes how she observed orangutans in the rain forests of Borneo, canoed in Indonesia, ate psychedelic mushrooms in Mexico, and skirted landmines in Nicaragua. Wherever she travels, it is the people and their customs that intrigue her most, from the restrictive but culturally rich celebrations of a Hasidic family in Israel to the more relaxed but equally ritualized daily life of her new friends in Bali. Her enthusiasm for the people she meets and her ability to overcome the challenges faced by a woman traveling alone make for an engrossing and inspirational read. For all travel collections. Linda M. Kaufmann, Massachusetts Coll. of Liberal Arts Lib., North Adams
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

I read this book over 3 years ago and I still remember it.
Rita Golden Gelman had courage to face her fears and is having a wonderful life by being an A Nomad women fitting in every where she goes.
Denise P. Yttri
Oh, but all the discomfort and tedium is swept away when all the women assemble to make a meal!
Susan Armstrong

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Y Lin on May 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
I bought this book on a Friday evening, gobbled it up except for two chapters, finished it first thing in the morning, and lent it out by that afternoon. I was very interested in the reading the reviews that gave lesser ratings to this book. There were comments on poor or simplistic writing style and insufficient narrative or description of people and places... how utterly fascinating.
We all look at the world through different filters; thus the details Rita chose to share were those that were meaningful to her. She spends quite a few pages describing the long endearing antics she went through to avoid eating alone in a restaurant when she first arrived in Mexico... while she compresses 8 or so years in Bali into a chapter or so. This is the journey of a woman who reinvents herself at 48--it is the story of courage, of connection in far away places, of incredible growth, of living "successfully" as a single person. It is about Nicaragua, Bali, the Galapagos etc only as it relates to her story, and since *her* story is the one I needed to hear (as a 31 year old single female), I was very satisfied, inspired and grateful for the sharing.
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81 of 90 people found the following review helpful By Lady Murasaki on December 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
Gelman's book, "Tales of a Female Nomad," is a testament to the human spirit, courage, and to our basic need to connect with others. It is a very personal account of her life as she goes through a divorce and discovers her individual self, without her husband, and through her numerous adventures. She goes to many places: Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Israel, Galapagos Islands, Indonesia, New Zealand, Canada, and Thailand. What surprises me about Gelman's style is her very personal approach. She reveals intimate details, especially about fears and insecurities, which made me I more and more drawn to her story. It is though she is inviting the reader to be a friend and to share her experiences. She travels unconventionally - without much of a plan and not just to capital cities. Her stories of the people she has met warms the heart and reveals a beautiful humanity that is shared among all cultures.
This book is wonderful for anyone, but I strongly recommend it to women all ages and walks of life. Shows how one can live their dream and take the road not taken.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Christy Reves on July 15, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I absolutely loved this book and wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who has an appreciation for travelling and the lessons one can learn about themselves from such experiences. Rita's travels and lifestyle change left me in complete awe and filled me with absolute admiration for the guts, courage, and trust that were required of her. This book will not only inspire the reader to embark on travels of his/her own, but will cause some much needed introspection into the routines that so many of us lead in our daily lives. This book serves as a shot in the arm to get out and experience life, others, and other places.
In the book, Rita allows the reader to vicariously experience her life with her. The reader cannot help but feel as if Rita Gelman is a good friend by the last page. And once the book is over it is hard to stop thinking about the incredible adventures and gutsy lady that comprise Rita Gelman.
Definitely read this book and check out some of her great children's books while you're at it. Rita is a true jewel and anyone who loves to read should be reading her books.
I look forward to future books and the book tour!
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Sister Bert on October 13, 2004
Format: Paperback
I (finally) finished this book, it dragged its little textual feet for me there at the end. I adore the idea of this book, this is a perfect example of the I-find-no-satisfaction-with-the-material-world scenario, and a brilliant execution of a solution. Though this sort of lifestyle certainly wouldn't work for many people, (reaching out of comfort zones, being open minded to both other cultures, along with "playing along" as it were: using your outsider status appropriately, not letting your will get in the way of people's set lives), I can certainly identify with the urge to have such freedom, live so humbly, learn so much.

That said, I was disappointed with the quality of the writing in this book. There were a few sentences here and there that made me happy, but often they would be used repetitively soon after; in general the style seemed tired and sloppy. I excepted better writing from a WRITER. (Be fair, she mainly does children's books, but still.) I found myself unable to come along with her when she went on her quasi-mystical moments, because they just weren't presented very effectively.

I wanted to like this book so badly. In the end I treat it as technical writing: a step by step account of glorious people and lives, the scents and colors, and let the intended format slip away as it does by itself anyway.
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35 of 41 people found the following review helpful By D. Mckinstray on July 14, 2003
Format: Paperback
It's rare that I can't finish a book, but this one defeated me. The subject matter should have been interesting (middle aged woman splits up with hubby and travels the world for 15 years) but after a couple of chapters, I started to find Rita irritating.
Firstly, she claims that she lived in various communities as a local. However, she wasn't averse to accepting freebies and favours afforded to her simply because she was American (eg the government sponsored trip to Camp Leakey in Borneo). That's fair enough, but obviously a local would never have been offered these opportunities.
Secondly, I found the tone of her writing very smug and (dare I say it?) a little too American for me. When others don't share Rita's enthusiasm for herself, she gets quite bewildered.
At Camp Leakey, she seemed quite put out when the busy female scientist didn't drop everything to become Rita's new best friend. At this point, I'd had enough. Which is a pity, as I'm sure she had some great adventures. Maybe she should have employed a ghost writer.
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