Friday, July 18, 2014

Review of Goodwill Tour: Paying it Forward by Keith Maginn

In mid-July of 2011, Keith Maginn, and his friend, Emily, set off from Cincinnati, Ohio, on a 3,000-mile road-trip through several southeastern states. The pair stopped in Memphis, New Orleans, Savannah, Charleston, Asheville and smaller towns in between. Goodwill Tour: Paying It Forward is a travelogue detailing a philanthropic experiment in this incredible country the two call home. What makes their trip unique—and Maginn’s book fresh—is that sightseeing wasn’t their sole purpose. Emily and Keith were determined to spread kindness as they worked to make a difference in the lives of others along the way. They gave their own money to hand-picked strangers, who then had to pay the money forward to someone else.

Goodwill Tour is the narrative of the places Emily and Keith visited and the people they met on their journey. It is an ode to the United States and, even more, a tribute to its people. From Beale Street to Bourbon Street and Graceland to the Biltmore Estate, from feeding the needy in downtown Charleston to brainstorming ideas with a female Buddhist monk to help abused teens and high school dropouts in North Carolina, readers will enjoy riding shotgun on the trip as they relive the experience of these life-altering events, and contemplate how people changed as a result.

Supplemented by quotes from Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, Douglas Brinkley’s The Majic Bus and Try Giving Yourself Away by David Dunn, this book satisfies two longings at once: to have a fun, interesting journey and to motivate readers to have an impact on the people around them. With so much negativity in the news and so many struggling in a beaten-down economy, the public is crying out for a feel-good, transformative book like Goodwill Tour.

 Many have driven around the country for adventure; countless others serve their community. Maginn and his friend set out to accomplish both at once. Their pay-it-forward mission will touch and inspire readers to take the trip that they’ve always dreamed of or to have a positive effect in the life of a loved one, an acquaintance, or even a complete stranger.

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My Thoughts: Many of us dream about going on road trips either solo or with a friend. Many others also dream about being able to make a difference in the world even if it's one person at a time. In this book, Keith Maginn was able to do both. This was an uplifting book about Keith and his friend Emily embarking on a quest to visit a few parts of the United States as well as helping out strangers.

I very much enjoyed the concept behind Keith's and Emily's mission. It made me think about how I could contribute to society, even if it's at a small scale. What I liked best was how Keith encouraged the reader to go out and explore right at the beginning:

"I hope this book inspires you to do something special. Maybe you will finally take that trip that you've always dreamed of; perhaps you will strive to have a positive effect in the life of a loved one, an acquaintance or a complete stranger. Either way, I challenge you to just get out and do it."

Wow! I absolutely loved how he began with this note because it not only inspired me right away to travel, but he also prepared me to the type of adventure I was going to read in this book.

It was amazing to read how much of a difference he and Emily were able to make in a few days. Though they did not have a lot of money, the little they gave really helped out the people in need. It was also fascinating to read how many other people were eager to be part of the "Pay-it-Forward" project. These people graciously accepted Keith's and Emily's contributions and gave the donations to someone deserving. It was wonderful to know how many good-hearted people were out there.

As much as I enjoyed the journey that Keith described, I do admit that I wanted more. I wanted to read more about his emotions and his thoughts: to read more in detail about the travels. I wanted to hear from Keith instead of him citing other works to describe what was happening. Though the quotes that were used were excellent, it would have still been nice to hear from Keith himself. The preface, the letters, the afterward, and the scene with the first person they donated to were the perfect examples on the emotions and thoughts from Keith that I was expecting from this book. These were my favorite parts because I felt emotionally connected to the situations and I felt quite inspired. I wanted more of these.

Overall, this was a short book but it still had its punch. I absolutely love the idea behind this trip and I loved the idea of how small acts could still make a big difference. I expect to read more amazing adventures from Keith in the future. I rate this:

*I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review*

About the Author:

Keith Maginn was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, the youngest of four kids. He attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, as an Evans Scholar. After earning a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology, Keith relocated to Knoxville, Tennessee, to work for AmeriCorps (a service organization like the Peace Corps, but within the United States) and for Knoxville Habitat for Humanity.

Keith recently moved back to Cincinnati after living nearly ten years in Tennessee. He likes to be around family and friends and has eight nieces and nephews that he adores. He loves playing and watching many sports and also enjoys live music, writing, meditation, yoga and reading.

In December 2012, Keith self-published an inspiring self-help memoir, Turning This Thing Around. Maginn’s second book, Goodwill Tour: Paying It Forward, is about a philanthropic experiment on the road. Released in January of 2013, the author hopes it will be his second book of many more to come. He feels writing is his life’s purpose and that he has a message to share that will help others.


  1. Wow sounds like a very interesting book! I have heard of people doing things like that. And yes, I too wish we could do stuff like that!
    I told my hubby - maybe someday, around, Christmas time, lets give some random diner waitress a $50. tip! Wouldn't that be fun!

    I love reading books like this, thanks for the review Vonnie!

    1. I love reading these kinds of stories too! And like you, I've always wanted to tip a waitress a good chunk of change.

    2. Thank you for reading Vonnies review, Wall-to-wall books! I hope that you will check my book out. I also hope you go through with your $50 tip idea; I think it'd be a great feeling!

      All the best,

      Keith Maginn

  2. Wow, this sounds really fantastic! I like their idea of traveling and paying it forward. I have such a tight budget as it is, I'm curious how they got the money. I suppose even small things are big though, even just donating your own time to help at a soup kitchen or something. Thanks for bringing this to my attention!

    1. Hi Candace, thank you for reading Vonnie's review of my book. Our trip came about so quickly that we didn't have time to solicit donations from businesses, though we would have liked to. We did ask close friends and family if they'd pitch in and then used our own money. It was a great experience and I'd love to do it again...only with more planning, more money to give away and a longer trip!

      I hope that you will check out my book. It is a feel good story and a quick read.

      All the best,

      Keith Maginn