Call it a long essay or a short book -- either way, Wallace's exuberantly detailed account of life aboard a Caribbean luxury liner is easily the funniest thing ever written about the cruise industry.
"The funniest travel book I can think of." -- Ed Park, author of "Personal Days" and editor at Amazon Publishing's Little A imprint.
"I fully grant that mysterious invisible room-cleaning is in a way great, every true slob's fantasy, somebody materializing and deslobbing your room and then dematerializing -- like having a mom without the guilt. But there is also, I think, a creeping guilt here, a deep accretive uneasiness, a discomfort that presents -- at least in my own case -- as a weird kind of pampering-paranoia. Because after a couple of days of this fabulous invisible room-cleaning, I start to wonder how exactly Petra knows when I'm in 1009 and when I'm not."
2. "Holidays in Hell" (1988)
By P.J. O'Rourke
"Trouble tourist" O'Rourke takes his defiantly conservative attitudes -- "To extend civilization, even with guns, isn't the worst thing in the world" -- to political hot spots of the 1980s, including Lebanon, Gaza, Syria, the Philippines, El Salvador and points in between.
"'Holidays in Hell' is the first travelogue I read where I felt the author held nothing back. All those nuggets that journalists and travel writers tell each other over drinks, O'Rourke actually wrote. It's wildly funny, in the 'it's funny because it's true' sense." -- Eric Weiner, author of "The Geography of Bliss" and "Man Seeks God."
"O'Rourke dared to write out loud what everyone who has covered serious stories has always known -- that trouble, almost invariably caused, as it is, by human folly and hubris, can be funny. His waspish dispatches from various frontlines remain a bracing antidote to the pomposity of news coverage, and remind that we're not obliged to take things seriously just because other people have decided they're worth killing for." -- Andrew Mueller, author of "I Wouldn't Start From Here" and "Rock and Hard Places."
"Each American embassy comes with two permanent features -- a giant anti-American demonstration and a giant line for American visas. Most demonstrators spend half their time burning Old Glory and the other half waiting for green cards."
1. "A Walk in the Woods" (1998)
By Bill Bryson
After 20 years in Britain, American Bill Bryson's attempt to reconnect with his homeland by hiking the famed Appalachian Trail results in an immortal sketch of bizarre characters and one show-stopping observation after another about everything from the astonishing wonders of the chestnut tree to the government (mis)management of public lands.
Our expert panel split its votes between so many of Bryson's more than 20 books that we decided to break the Gordian Knot by selecting this one -- his bestseller -- as the funniest travel book ever written by the legit king of the genre.
"Nearly everyone I talked to had some gruesome story involving a guileless acquaintance who had gone off hiking the trail with high hopes and new boots and come stumbling back two days later with a bobcat attached to his head or dripping blood from an armless sleeve and whispering in a hoarse voice, 'Bear!' before sinking into a troubled unconsciousness."
What's your favorite funny travel book? Share your pick in the comments.