Alex Sheshunoff is in his late 20s and the owner of an internet company in New York when a panic attack makes him realize he is very unhappy with his life. His business is not going too well, he’s working too much, and an employee is threatening to sue. A few weeks later, he resigns from his job, dumps his girlfriend, sublets his apartment, and decides to go on a search for Paradise in the Western Pacific with 100 books to keep him company. But it turns out that there are 25,995 islands in the Pacific. After a quick google search, he chooses to start with Yap Island. Once there though, he finds out that the place has no beach and has a leprosy problem. Not a very likely candidate for paradise… Undeterred, he continues his search for the perfect island. In the process, he learns a lot about himself and unexpectedly falls in love.
Moving to a tropical island is something a lot of people think about when life gets difficult but rarely do. Alex Sheshunoff had the courage to drop everything, explore the Western Pacific and tell us all about it. A Beginner’s Guide to Paradise is not a self-help book but a tongue-in-cheek memoir about the author’s journey to happiness, and it is hilarious and very entertaining. The reader can easily identify with Alex and imagine life on a Pacific island. In addition, the fact that the author brings books with him to catch up on some reading makes him even more likable. As the story progresses, he meets interesting people and learns fun life lessons. Alex spends the first half of the book traveling alone which allows for some introspection. Then he encounters Sarah, and they decide to build a house together.
The physical book itself looks great, with a well-designed cover and smart layout. At the beginning of each chapter, Alex Sheshunoff gives a humorous sneak peek: “What You Can Expect to Learn in This Chapter” that makes you want to know what happens next. In the middle, the reader can look at pictures of Alex, Sarah, and their monkey. At the end of the book, there are recipes and a list of “14 Things to Know Before Building a House on a Remote Pacific Island”. A Beginner’s Guide to Paradise was the non-fiction winner of the Faulkner Society Words & Wisdom Competition, and this was definitely well-deserved. I highly recommend this book if you ever wondered what life would be like away from it all.
A Beginner’s Guide to Paradise was sent to me for free in exchange for an honest review.
About the author and his work: Alex Sheshunoff’s Website.
Fun facts about the author and the book:
- Surprisingly, what Alex Sheshunoff missed the most on the remote island of Pig were chairs to sit on.
- Alex and Sarah had a pet monkey when they lived on Angaur Island.
- On the island of Yap, people use stone money that is 12 feet high and weighs 2 tons.
- The author jogged with the president of Palau.
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