April book reviews: Digital Nomads in Chiang Mai, Query Letters, Crazy British Traditions, and more
Traveling and reading go hand-in-hand, so I had plenty of time to catch up on my reading list this month. What I didn’t have, however, were many submissions. This month’s books include some books I picked up as they were relevant to our travels — and hey, I’ve read them, so I can review them =)
A quick disclaimer: review copies were provided or downloaded for free. These reviews cover the version of the book I received, not necessarily the version that’s currently available. A newer or updated version may be available — check for yourself using the links below.
The Complete Guide to Query Letters for Travel Writers — Roy Stevenson
Pitch letters can sometimes feel like the secret sauce of the blogging world. Many folks have a template or two they use, but few share them as openly as Roy has here. Call this what it is — a master-class of sales writing to get into magazines and newspapers.
The book itself is clean, complete, yet concise enough to be read in a single sitting. Roy’s real world experience and credentials underscore the opening chapters, which reads like common sense should — if it were still common sense. It’s up-to-date with the way things actually work here in 2015 (not the way we want them to work). A two-page template is the appetizer, with twenty query letters written by him that resulted in an article placement as the main course. You’ll soon notice the patterns used, and feel empowered to try it yourself. Note that some lateral thinking is rewarding — and that tailoring your pitch to ensure that magazine’s angle is taken care of is paramount.
Pick it up on Amazon:
Digital Nomad Escape Plan: Chiang Mai Handbook 2015 — Michael Hulleman
I loved Chiang Mai. Six months in Northern Thailand was a great chance to connect with fellow expats, entrepreneurs, and plenty of quirky characters. If you’re part of the digital nomad community, Chiang Mai has probably come up in your conversations more than once, and with good reason. If you’re not, this book is a no-nonsense, how-to-get-started book that’s about as specific as it gets.
Whether you’re invested in the lifestyle or looking to start, the author goes into the pros and cons of going ‘pro hobo’. The book is scattershot at times, though the casual language will resonate with readers. I get the sense he did a lot of research from blogs and forums, and may have favored those over his personal experience. The ED-visa info, for example, is clearly second-hand — we were never once given a language test in Chiang Mai or Phuket — and some of the info about medicines seemed overly cautious.
It’s a fair place to start, and a good shortcut to save you plenty of time if you’re coming to Chiang Mai. It’s only if you’re coming to Chiang Mai, though — there’s precious little about the rest of the country.
Recommended with reservations.
UPDATE JUNE 2017: the author has updated the book for 2017 and made it available for free.
Spain for travelers — Allison Keys
I picked this up as we’re heading to Spain — it’s a very good, basic introduction to the country. There are well-formatted sections on food, getting around, cultural experiences, places to recharge, and where to party. It’s a solid set of info that’s hard to find a fault with (though a future version may fix a few typos). I’d have loved to see few more photos, though.
Read straight through, it won’t take more than a half-hour — great whether you’re looking for a brush-up of your internet research or are landing soon. It’s a short, sweet, simple read — exactly what you’ll want when you know you’re going to Spain.
Pick it up at Amazon:
Barking Mad British Traditions, Customs, and Sports — Gary McCracken
What fun! Each ‘barking mad’ tradition merits a short entry and often a picture, along with some details on how to watch or attend the festivities. The author goes into a fair bit of detail related to the history, which is often traced back to a disagreement at a bar (also the reason we have the Guinness Book of World Records, but I digress)… You’ve likely heard of some of these, but each entry offers some more insight to a country where cheeky is part of the local charm.
Though I’m admittedly biased to the bizarre and weird, I really enjoyed this one. It’s easy, light reading for while you’re traveling, and each article naturally leads into the next. It’s also a bit of a crash course into the local dialect of English — you cannot tell me the average non-British chap knows what conkers are or could pick a nettle out of a forest. Pick this up before your next trip to the island, or if your sense of humor (humour?) needs something more than a comic strip.
Pick it up at Amazon:
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Originally published at One Weird Globe.