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When I was younger I would read in the car on road trips and my parents would have to start yelling my name to get my attention. Being on the move just lends itself to reading. Now, I don’t have a smartphone or an iPod (really…), so in the downtime on flights, long bus rides and quiet hotel nights, I read.
I usually like to have a mix of material to choose from, but I especially enjoy reading travelogues and about places where I am going to visit or have just been too. Even if they’re fictitious, books help you get a better understanding and fuller picture of the place, its people and history.
‘Book It’ will be a new series every month highlighting some of my favorite travel reads.
To start off, since I’m currently winding my way through the crazy streets of the city, I wanted to highlight the Bangkok 8 series by John Burnett.
I don’t tend to read mysteries or crime thrillers, but I thoroughly enjoyed these books. Centered around Thai detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep (try saying that three times fast…), the series works through a number of bizarre, sexual, drug-fueled cases. While the cases themselves are a little sensational, many of the details are not – many police here aren’t on the straight and narrow, with their hands dipping into drug and other…questionable…pockets. There were a couple parts that bothered me, like the main character’s tendency to reference the reader as ‘farang‘ (foreigner) which in real life can sometimes have a negative or dismissive connotation. Overall though, the three books were entertaining and opened up a fictional, yet very real, world. The beliefs, practices, routines and places that Burnettt weaves into the stories are very much a true part of Thai culture, Bangkok and Buddhism, and I recommend the books as a good read to get a different perspective on the country.
The books aren’t for the faint of heart, however. There’s a Girl with the Dragon Tattoo feel to them with dark overtones, sexual abuse and grisly murder.
Bonus books: I also just realized there’s a fourth, and even fifth, book in the series! Where was I? Ordering now…
Interested? The links below go to where you can purchase the book for yourself from Amazon.
I’m also always on the lookout for new reads – what are your favorite travel-related books? Let me know!