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Essential Thailand Reading List

A good friend from Portland recently asked me to recommend a reading list for an American expat who planned to live and work in Thailand for a 1 to 2 year period. He asked for a list that was restricted to non-fiction titles.

The books below won’t tell the entire story, but for anyone wishing to have a greater understanding of Thai culture, history and language, it is a good jumping off point. There is no written examination for anyone who reads all of the nine titles below. Your passing mark will come from the knowing smile of Thai nationals with whom you have business or social contact after you have absorbed the knowledge in these books.

Disclosure of financial interest: In case you are wondering, I receive no commission or kickback from amazon.com on any sale. I closed my affiliate account with amazon as they were incapable of mailing cheques to Thailand. I was pleased to read amazon has gone into the grocery business. That move seems to suit their local business model. For Heart Talk I receive a royalty for each copy sold.

The Reading List

In His Majesty’s Footsteps (2006) by Pol Gen Vasit Dejkunjorn (The first personal memoir written in English by a palace official and published in Thailand.) Available from Heaven Lake Press.

Heart Talk (July 2006) by Christopher G. Moore (a guide to expressing feelings and emotions in the Thai language). Having written he book I am naturally biased. It is the book I would have wished to could have bought when first arriving in Thailand 23 years ago. Available from Heaven Lake Press.

Siam Mapped (1994) by Thongchai Winichakul (this is a classic must read work)

Available from amazon.com.

The Revolutionary King by William Stephenson (controversial and banned in Thailand) Available from amazon.com.

Letters from Thailand by Botan (another classic, the story of Chinese immigrants to Thailand)

Available from amazon.com.

The Dream of a Thousand Lives: A Sojourn in Thailand by Karen Connelly (a first hand account by a young Canadian woman) Available from amazon.com.

Four Reigns by Kukrit Pramoj (another classic that is highly recommended) Available from amazon.com.

A History of Thailand by Christopher Baker and Pasuk Phongpaichit (a good introduction to the history of Thailand by two resident experts) Available from amazon.com.

Bangkok Inside Out by Guy Sharett, Daniel Ziv (playful and colourful presentation of the City of Angels) Available from amazon.com.

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