Friday Review: Female Nomad and Friends

Female Nomad and Friends:

Tales of Breaking Free and Breaking Bread Around the World

by Rita Golden Gelman

I leaped at the chance to review this book because I was familiar with Gelman's first book, Tales of a Female Nomad and was happy to hear she'd written another one.  To understand the premise of the second book, you need to know a little about the first book (though you certainly don't have to read the first to appreciate the second).

At the age of 48, on the verge of a divorce, Gelman, who at the time led quite the privileged Hollywood-style life, decided to chuck it all and begin traveling.  Now, she lives all over the world, carrying what she needs with her, living serendipitously.  As she puts it, "In 1987 I opened my life to otherness; it became addictive.  I still have no fixed address and hardly any possessions."

And how does she manage to finance this lifestyle?  Through writing children's books.  Her first adult book, which detailed her adventures, also did well.  Well enough that readers clamored for more.  But Gelman didn't really want to write another book, she was too busy having fun.  Part of that fun included trying new and different things and she wanted no part of writing a sequel.  Still, readers clamored.

And thus Female Nomad and Friends was born.  Gelman hit on the idea of using the many stories that readers, inspired by her adventures, had emailed her.  Plus she decided to add recipes. So the resulting anthology has 41 stories and 32 recipes, all of an international bent.  Perhaps the best part of it all is that evey single penny of the proceeds from this book goes to Gelman's current pet project, which is funding vocational educations for high school graduates from the slums of New Delhi. 

For that reason alone you should buy this book.  But you'll also want to buy it for the stories and the recipes.  Its the kind of book that you can have on your bedside table and read one a night, in order if you are that type of person.  Or you can do what I did, which is to pick it up, close my eyes, and choose a story at random until I had read them all.  It is much more fun that way.

Here's a sampler of the stories you'll find in the book:

Breakfast in Malaca, by Wendy Lewis, about a delicious–and surprising–meal in Malaysia.

Chapati Love Remembered, by Jean Allen, probably my favorite story in the whole book, about making chaptis–and love.

Thanksgiving: A Different Perspective, by Ana Maria Bradley, in which a foreign exchange student comes to appreciate an American holiday.

And here's a taste of some of the recipes:

Latvian Piragi

Ginger-Cumin Roasted Chicken (I'm trying this one for sure)

Charred Sugar-Crusted Salmon

Vietnamese Soft Spring Rolls

Mousse au Chocolat Truffee

And many more…

Reading Gelman's story, and the many stories in the anthology, has made me ponder if I could do the same as her–live without a home base anywhere.  Now, I love to travel and actually wish I could do more of it.  But somehow I don't think I could live without a permanent address.  I love Gelman's lifestyle and appreciate that for her, it is all about being open to the other and making connections throughout the world.  But I want my own little house to come home to after I've been away–my pets, my art, my funny little things.

What about everyone else?  Could you travel the world without a permanent home?

While you ponder the answer to that question, here's a bit more information about Gelman and the book:

Rita Golden Gelman is the author of Tales of a Female Nomad and more than seventy children’s books, including More Spaghetti, I Say!, a staple in every first grade classroom. As a nomad, Rita has no permanent address.  She is currently involved in an initiative called Let’s Get Global, a project of US Servas, Inc, a national movement deigned to bring the gap year to the United States. Learn more at:

We invite you to join us on the Female Nomad and Friends virtual tour. The full schedule can be seen at You can learn much more about Rita Golden Gelman and her work on her website –

, , , ,

5 Responses to Friday Review: Female Nomad and Friends

  1. Nikkileighauthr 07/02/2010 at 08:50 #

    Great review Charlotte — and totally agree about reading random stories each night – that’s one of the things I love about anthologies and short story collections. I also agree about loving to travel, but I like the feeling of coming home.

    Nikki Leigh

  2. Charlotte Dixon 07/02/2010 at 14:36 #

    Nikki, I’m glad I’m not the only one who reads anthologies this way! Thanks for giving me the opportunity to review this book.

  3. Linda 07/02/2010 at 22:45 #

    I live in an RV and in under two months we’re aiming to be full-time on the road. This means no “real” address, no “real” home. Home is a state of mind. Could I go without all ties? Possibly not. But I can’t wait to start wandering.

  4. Jessica 07/03/2010 at 03:22 #

    I love the idea of being able to pick up and toddle off to a new place whenever you like, but at the same time I am very aware that for my personal mental health I need a haven to peek out of in the mornings and retire to in the evenings. I need my spot with my books and my space. So while I love to dream of being a wandering nomad, I realise that lifestyle doesn’t fit my needs in reality. But I still love the dreaming. 😉

  5. Charlotte Dixon 07/03/2010 at 08:35 #

    Linda, Wow, living in an RV and traveling in it sounds like fun. Still, I have to agree with Jessica, that I need a place to call home to come back to.

    Jessica, I think also the point is that most of us get so encrusted in our homes that we have no freedom. And I agree, love the dreaming!

Leave a Reply