Buy Thai Books!

Sawat dee Krab!

Welcome to my latest bit of blog on one of my most favorite of all things Thai next to Thai food, my books! Sometimes I’d almost rather have my nose in a good book more than even a plate of Pad Grapao smelling all that spicy, basilly Thai goodness. I guess you can say that’s one way to diet!

Long before I became a Thaiphile I was a bibliophile I’ve always loved books and collecting books too. As a kid I was the reclusive and introspective sort so diving into books (at least ones that didn’t bore me) was a natural fit. Would it sound too geeky to say some of my best friends were books? Well they were at least in high school where it was easier to escape into a good book then deal with the pressures of my high schools social life (or lack there of!)

Most of the time things were cool but sometimes constantly buried in a book was an invitation to get the snot beat out of me by some of the Neanderthal jerks at my school. Back then I was into science fiction books like the Martian landscape of Edgar Rice Burrows or Ray Bradbury and Carl Sagans books on science and everything out there among the “billions and billions of star stuff.”. Even though I was a poor student reading those books marked me as being ‘brainy’ and an instant target for those of the knuckles-dragging-the-ground mindset. I can just imagine what my tormentor’s reaction would be to seeing me reading books about Thailand. “You readin’ books on wha’? TIE-land?” Oh I could hear the bad attempts at humor now *shudder*

I didn’t have a clue back then about my adopted country but all that has changed due to my passion for reading. That plus my determined drive to get my hands on anything I could find on the subject! So today I thought I’d write about my collection of books I have on Thailand. At my most recent count I have about one hundred books on darn near just about anything and everything to do with the Land of Smiles. In fact I joking tell folks I probably have the largest privately owned Thai library in DC not counting Wat Thai or the Thai Embassy here. Too bad that’s too big to fit on a business card 😉

I’ve been buying and collecting books on Thailand for a little over a year now so I guess you can say I’ve definitely been hard core about books on Thailand so my status as a Thai fanatic should be well earned! At first I started out scouring local books shops in DC only to find the standard Thai cookbooks, Travel Guides and Phrase Books in that order.

Surfing the web I came across the Paknam web and Richard’s bookshop online at Thai-Hypermarket.com which has recently underwent a total change up as of late. Some of my best books on learning Thai and Thai grammar I bought from Richards shop.

One time while I was at the Wat Thai DC for Thai class I found a really cool book on King Bhumibol Adulyadej. It was a beautiful book full of pictures and history of Thailand’s longest reigning monarch. I had to have this book for my collection so I wrote down the publisher name, Post Books a subsidiary of the Bangkok Post, and did a Google search when I got home. That lead me to Asia Books in Thailand which is like the Barnes and Noble of Bangkok! Oh I started to drool as I made my shopping list. In fact on my list of things to ‘must do’ once I am in Thailand is to literally spend a day at their store in Siam Square only I think someone will have to hold onto my credit card for sure!

So many cool books but the problem was how to get them here! I found that shipping is cheap and easy buying from Richards book shop online but not so when buying from other shops online in Thailand. To have my books shipped to DC from Asia Books in BKK was usually 50% or more of the cost of the books! Two books I would love to have are ‘The Judgment’ and ‘Time’ by author Chart Kobjtti. I found copies of his two books that I awnt to get at Nang Mai Books.com. Together the books cost $25 dollars but just to ship them to me is another$25 dollars! Peing Chip Hai!!

That’s when I started checking with all my friends to see if they were planning a trip to Thailand or if they had family or friends in Thailand about to visit DC. My Asia books wish list made the circuit around Thai folks in DC more often than the latest Thai gossip! Jing Jing! I would buy the books online then arrange to have my ‘friend’ pick them up in person and carry them back with them on the plane. I managed to get a few books I wanted this way but that proved quite a hassle and I couldn’t help feeling like a book smuggler haha.

Last summer my friend Chai from Bangkok came to DC for a visit and I offered to let him stay with me while he was here a month. In return for staying at my place free of charge he asked if he could bring me anything from Thailand, boy was that the wrong thing to ask! I gave him my list and told him to only pick out a few books to get for me if he could and it wasn’t any trouble. When he showed up he not only bought every book on my list but several other gorgeous and really cool books he thought I would like. He brought a whole briefcase full of books and another one with all kinds of stuff for me too! I was floored it was like the best Christmas of my life, in July even! All totaled he spent about $500 on books alone. I thought that was way too much to spend but he explained he would have spent twice that much on a hotel here and I was letting him stay with me for free! Can’t go wrong with that logic!

From my books I have learned so much about Thailand so now you know my secret for being such a farang expert on the land of Luuk Kreung, 7-11’s, Muay Thai and sanuk. I love looking at the pictures of people and places in Thailand but they make me so envious to actually be there! I know I’m shortcutting the process by trying to bring Thailand here through books and CD’s when I should be planning to go there but it’s such an easy out. Guilty as charged!

I even love the smell some of my books have. It’s like that new car smell that you just love to breathe in before it fades away. Geez, can you be committed for being this geeky? As a free service Asia books wraps each cover in a clingy clear cover to protect the books which is also really cool so I can enjoy them for a long time. Some of my most favorite books are also bilingual so I can read the Thai or English in one go if I want which is so cool too.

There a few more books on my wish list that I want to get then that’s it I’m cutting off my fiendish book addiction to start saving to finally get a plane ticket over there and live life in Thailand for real and not just through the pages and pictures in my books. I’ll always keep and cherish my collection of books though, some of them are no longer in print and irreplaceable so I turn into the over protective parent sometimes when my friends come over and browse through my shelves. The only problem is when the time comes to move to Thailand how am I going to move all these books? OY!

โชคดีครับ !
วิทย์

5 responses to “Buy Thai Books!

  1. Think about it – the books ‘moved’ you first. So, now its your ‘duty’ to move the books!

  2. Great blog, Wit! Nice to see that you like books too.

    If you saw Richard’s private library, you’d be amazed! His quality collection consists of hundreds of really cool books about Thailand, some of them rare or out-of-print. It’s a real treasure-trove, I tell you! 🙂

    For another nice treat on rare and very old books, I recommend you to visit the Siam Society library. You can even find palm-leaf manuscripts, and other such curiosities there.

    If I recall correctly, the library is membership-based, but they issue short-term membership suitable for temporary visitors.

    And of course, the bookstore is always a good choice for contemporary books. The Farang section is a mixed bag, as the shelves are full of crap written by ‘barstool-writers’. Just need to separate the quality.

    However, the Thai section is really interesting! There are some really interesting books and magazines out there, that give you a glimpse of what Thais like to read. 🙂

    Good luck and have fun reading! 🙂

  3. Hey Wit, how you gonna get all those books to Thailand?

    After I sold or gave away most of my library of 2,000 volumes, I discovered a wonderful “M” rate overseas bulk mailing program at the U.S. Postal Service. You bag your books in these monster white canvas mailbags provided by the postal service (about 50 lbs. each, full), and ask for the “M” rate.

    There were about 200 books I just could not part with, and since books weigh like bricks, I couldn’t fathom air-shipping them at $3.50 per pound. So, thanks to my “M” discovery, and for about $100 in shipping, they all arrived safely at my school in Isan–five months later. (You know, the proverbial slow boat to China).

    Added suggestion: bind your books into approx. 1’x 1′ cubes, add protective padding, and wrap tightly with twine or duct tape, as they do get quite a beating.

  4. Hi I like to collect Thai books as well, Although my collection runs up to a few dozen only so far. I have just finished an old one called “Land of the Lotus Eaters” by Norman Bartlett, Published in 1959. It is really interesting reading this book about life as an expat in the late 1950’s and comparing the similarities to an expat in Thailand today.

    Cheers

    Nick

  5. Well, it’s absolutely wonderful to find someone else who has so many Thai books. I’m a fanatic for the place, plan to move there and read everything I can get my hands on.

    Thanks to JD above for a good suggestion on how to get my books over.

    Peace,

    Thailand Gal
    ~*~*~*