This Week’s Guest Reader: Ken Budd


Ken Budd is the author of The Voluntourist—A Six-Country Tale of Love, Loss, Fatherhood, Fate and Singing Bon Jovi in Bethlehem (William Morrow). The memoir won silver in the 2013 Nautilus Book Awards and 2012 North American Travel Journalist Association Awards; an adaptation for Huffington Post received gold from NATJA in 2014. Ken has written for such publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Smithsonian, and McSweeney’s. He is the former executive editor of AARP The Magazine; his work was nominated for a National Magazine Award in 2005. Ken is donating his earnings from The Voluntourist to the places where he volunteered.  His essay about  his experiences in Kenya and criticism of voluntourism recently won gold in the Society of American Travel Writers’ Lowell Thomas awards. His web site is and you can connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.


Samples of his work:

Special Needs,” an award-winning adaptation of Ken’s memoir, The Voluntourist

Nike Infant and Toddler Scouting Report,” from

Diary of a Student at Patrick Henry College, the Nation’s First College for Home School Students, Which Offers a Major in Only One Subject: Government,” from

Excerpt from The Voluntourist

Two Flashes he admires:

The Worst Shark Attack Ever,” by Trevor Houser

Little Girls,” by Tara Laskowski



My tastes lean toward black comedies, but I’m open to anything (I’m the only man in America who read Eat, Pray, Love). I’m a magazine editor by day, and I see a lot of flabby writing that’s loaded with junk, from bland verbs to clichés. So I’m looking for lively writing and surprising stories that hook me from the opening sentence.

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