Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Books don't hurt people, but I might

Granted I could not have been paying close attention when I requested it, but there is no reason for this to be in the Oakland Library's stacks:
Mmm, pen sketches
It's a travel book from 1987 with illustrations which look like this:
How is this helpful? Left at oval!
And authors who look like this:
The hair! The hair! Why was this ever acceptable?
This is why I hate traveling. Not the traveling itself, which I love, but the guide book shopping. You have to endlessly compare and try out, scouring the internet and local bookstores to find one that is actually useful and not outdated and/or poorly executed. I want more than information vomited on me willy-nilly the minute I open the book. I want the author to clearly articulate the purpose and audience of the book. Faster I get this information, the faster I can make book purchasing decisions.

We went to Paris two years ago. The book I used then was spectacular (someday I'll remember the publisher). Great organization, clear descriptions, and concise historical information. In service of making your trip better it gave an overview of things Americans do that make French people think we're boorish morons. Chief actions listed included speaking in an outdoor voices on trains, in restaurants, museums, EVERYWHERE. Not even trying to speak the language--apparently even a horrific mangling of French is preferable to an arrogant torrent of English. The most random one to me was not greeting people when entering stores (it's like entering someone's home and ignoring them). I would have totally done that one.

The book basically says you have a better shot at people being polite to you if you pay two seconds of attention to their cultural norms of politeness. If they still hate you 'cause you're a tourist, then at least you don't look a damn fool. Which is the title of my new book: "How not to look a damn fool in country XXX, by Ish." Watch your back "Dummies" series. I'm coming for you!

[Visit Save Oakland Library. The City is threatening to close 99% of them. We really do need to save them.]

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