One Year Lived By Adam Shepard – Book Review

I owe Adam Shepard kind of an apology. Last year when he sent me his book One Year Lived, I had 4 books ahead of his to get through first. Then over the course of a month while traveling back and forth from my consulting gig out of state I read it kind of piecemeal because you know how time can go, and actually finished it in the middle of last June.


That’s when I should have written the review, but time gets away from you. So I’m writing it today, and I’ll be letting him know about it (Hi Adam). And y’all did catch that he sent it to me, a digital copy, so there’s my disclosure up front.

Some background on Adam. He’s a former basketball player at Merrimack College who, just after graduating, took a challenge of trying to show that someone with almost no money and no assets could turn their life around and find a way to take care of themselves to the extent where they could afford a place to live, have a job and put some money away. The resulting book was called Scratch Beginnings, and I have to admit I haven’t read that one but I did see many interviews with him talking about it; fascinating stuff, so I will be trying to get around to reading that book.

By 2011 he got restless and decided he wanted an adventure before settling down and doing what others probably expected him to do with his life. He decided to sell almost all of his possessions, take the money he got from it and travel around the world for a year. But not the type of trip many people fathom, that being to exotic locales, warm waters, high class society and 5-star hotels. He didn’t have that kind of money or background, so he planned much differently.

Instead, he started his trip from Raleigh, North Carolina, went to Antigua first, then through countries in South America, New Zealand, Australia, the Philippines, Spain and finally Slovakia before coming back home, 17 countries and 4 continents in all. Slovakia wasn’t on the itinerary by the way, but he met someone special and that’s where she was from, so… 🙂

The thing is, he didn’t just visit all these countries and hang with the people enjoying himself, though he did have some fun. Part of his quest was to help build things, work with the people on different projects, participate in some of the things that were close to those living in the places he visited, and basically taking it all in, seeing how other people lived much differently than what he saw in the states. He talked about some of the kids he met, some of the dangerous people he encountered, getting into a bullfighting ring and getting hurt, and eventually meeting someone who became pretty special for him, hence the trip to Slovakia.

He didn’t have a lot of money but found that it didn’t cost him much being in South America, cost him a lot more being in Australia, learn how expensive alcohol can be around the world, learned how to budget his flying money by finding major hubs to fly to and from, and sacrificed some comforts to save money because he had the time to do so. In a strange way, it reminded me of the story of my friend Rasheed, which turned out to be my most popular blog post of all time, who figured out how to fund his dream of traveling to 44 states in 2 months by making balloon animals.

My thoughts about the book, not that I’ve given you some of the things about it are thus.

One, I probably never would have even picked up this book in a store, let alone read it, as it’s way outside my genre.

Two, after reading it and enjoying it a lot, I’ve read other books of its type, with people chronicling their adventures. I thought about how I write this blog and tell stories to then highlight lessons of some sort, and how this book has that going for it.

Three, I initially wondered whether this was the type of thing every person could conceive of doing in today’s “bucket list” culture and almost thought of it as the musings of a privileged guy deciding to slum it for a while. Once I got into the first 25% of the book I changed my mind because his trip wasn’t easy and in a way I enjoyed living through him, as I knew these would never be the types of experiences I’d ever try on my own.

Four, I thought about how money conscious he was to be able to do all of this traveling while starting out with just under $20,000 American dollars; that seems inconceivable but he did it. Creativity and having a dream really can get us through almost anything we put our minds through, right?

The finale? I think most of you would like this book because it’s full of adventures and lessons and realities of lives that most of us will never experience and probably know nothing about. I’ve seen poverty but the kind of poverty seen in foreign countries with governments that seem to throw up more things to fight those who are trying to help than helping their people is a different kind of experience we don’t see all that often in more developed countries.

I’m linking to the book page so you can see where you can purchase it on your own. Get it!

Of course this book went live last April, so I’ll ask the question here and hope Adam stops by to answer it: Does your life still include Ivana? 😉 Meanwhile, for the rest of you, check out the little video below:


9 thoughts on “One Year Lived By Adam Shepard – Book Review”

  1. Well to be honest I’m not a big fan of reading lot of book but after reading this review of “one year lived” I’m attracted to read it once.


  2. I hardly read books because I sometimes find them boring when we living in the world of audio and video, but my sister always suggests me some or the other book, as per her, books can be your best friends. I never took her seriously but after reading this review, I think I would love to read this one.

    1. Prerna, it’s a more depressing world when people stop reading because they think it’s boring. In my day, reading helped imaginations and creativity, and I remember many a hot, summer day being made to feel better by reading a book from the library. Those were the days…

  3. It has been a dream for many of us to create and chase an adventure, and then write about it. I read a lot, and love ‘real life adventure’. It’s great to see that some people are still doing both! Thanks, Mitch.

  4. Not the sort of book that I would read Mitch. Having said that I must admit he did all that starting out with only $20,000. I’m assuming he managed to pick up funds along the way by finding work when he could. Does he state this in the book and if so does he say how easy/hard it was to find work in the different countries?

    1. Actually Pete, he really didn’t. He volunteered almost all the time so what he did was budget and prove that he could get it done. That’s why he started in South America, where he knew his money would last him for a good long time. It’s not the type of book I’d have normally picked up either but I’m glad I got to read it. I might need to learn to broaden once again the types of things I read.

  5. Sounds like very interesting book. To some extends it reminds me of my life. I wish I can find time in the near future to read it.

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