All reviews and features are listed in full chronologically below the 'Select Review Quotes'. For individual reviews click on a quote or a media listing on the right.

Select Review Quotes

‘A must-read for any trend or research agency that wants their team to better understand Thailand.’
– Jan Chipchase, renowned design research consultant

Reviews in Full

October 9, 2013

Good Reads

Good Reads: Very Thai thread

 

www.goodreads.com/book/show/951616.Very_Thai

 

Michelle on Jul 26, 2011

rated it 4 of 5 stars

A far cry from most travel books’ “formal” culture debriefing, this book will show you what you will likely actually see and do in Thailand – through the pop and street culture. It had me ahh-ing in understanding at times and giggling madly at others (especially the section on those ridiculously flimsy tissue napkins that we Westerners seem to need 10 of to wipe the green curry off our faces…)

 

Kevin on Apr 23, 2013

rated it 5 of 5 stars

A friend marched me over to Asia Books after eating lunch one day at SUDA on Sukhumvit 14. He told me I must read it. More than that he said, I must buy it. I did. I am glad I did. I now know what a Garuda is, among other things. And just like that yellow sports car I once owned, I see them everywhere. Great pop culture education for anyone visiting or living in Thailand. Perfect for the coffee table as you will want to re-read it from time to time. Philip Cornwel-Smith should be listed as a Thai national treasure by the Thailand Ministry of Culture. Don’t look for that to happen anytime soon, but look for VERY THAI in your your local bookshop if, for some reason, you are living in Thailand or have an interest in Thailand and don’t own it already.

 

Somporn Karam on Oct 09, 2013

rated it 5 of 5 stars

It kind of Postmodern guide book that you should read before making your journey to Thailand! It’s about everyday Thai pop and streetlife stories with the fresh perspective. This book is now fully updated and expanded into a new 2nd Edition.

 

Sarah on Aug 01, 2009

rated it 5 of 5 stars

Quite simply the best book you’ll ever read about Thailand. It clears up the mystery surrounding almost every quirk of Thai contemporary culture – why are the napkins always pink, the water pipes blue and why yellow is always worn on Mondays. And explains the main complicated superstitions and beliefs from spirit houses to amulets. There’s also the quirks that ex-pats come to love – motorbike taxis and drinks in bags. All with lush brightly coloured photography. You can live in Thailand for years and never know the truth behind many of these oddities of daily life – especially as ask a Thai person and you’ll get a vague answer as it’s difficult for them to answer the question ‘Why?’

 

Alexis on Dec 13, 2011

rated it 5 of 5 stars

coffee table-ish book with informative stuff about Thai pop culture. I actually really liked this book and it made me sort of home-sick for Thailand.

 

Robert Oct 14, 2009

rated it 3 of 5 stars

A great post-trip read, this one explains a number of interesting cultural things we observed.

 

Johan De Herdt on Sep 09, 2010

rated it 5 of 5 stars

Read it during my first months in Bangkok. It clarified a lot.

 

Jason Sikora on Jun 04, 2008

rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: anyone interested in Thailand

A fantastic and original look into the real and current culture of a wonderful country. This is not your average look at traditional Thai culture, but rather a series of top-notch articles looking at the many curious aspects of Thailand one notices while there. It really answers the questions many visitors have. It makes for a very enjoyable read.

 

Megan on May 29, 2011

rated it 5 of 5 stars

Absolutely amazing book about Thai street and pop culture. Worth every penny.

 

Sarah Hughes on Oct 17, 2009

rated it 5 of 5 stars

you absolutely must have this book if you’re ever planning to visit Thailand

 

rated it 5 of 5 stars
We are planning a trip to Thailand and this book seemed like a good way to learn some useful things before we go. It is usually the popular culture in non-Western countries that is most puzzling when you visit, and this book seems to cover most aspects of Thai everyday life and ways. It is too bulky to take with us, but has beautiful full-color pictures, and I have the feeling will be a good reference source and souvenir when we return.

 

Posted in: Blog
August 6, 2013

Amazon.co.uk

2nd edition reviews

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Very-Thai-Everyday-Popular-Culture/dp/6167339376/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1385709898&sr=8-1&keywords=VERY+THAI

 

informative and pretty

By Doc B on 6 Aug 2013

5.0 out of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. It gave bite sized cultural insights that really enhanced my trip. I have advised many friends to get it for their trips as I don’t want to lend and lose my copy!

 

Very Thai Everyday Popular Culture… book

By mauza on 9 April 2011

5.0 out of 5 stars

Having been to Thailand a couple of times I saw this book when leaving Thai international Airport but didn’t purchase it at the time. It is the best honest factual book on Thai culture I have ever seen. Do recommend it for a memento or as a insight to travelling there…

 

1st edition review

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Very-Thai-Everyday-Popular-Culture/dp/9749863003/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1385722479&sr=8-4&keywords=VERY+THAI+hardcover

 

Amazing book full of photos with great written insights

By N. Reith on 30 Dec 2006

5.0 out of 5 stars

I’m a student of Thai Studies and language at Leeds University, and have lived in Thailand previously for over 4 years as an English teacher, backpacker and a student.

If you have ever been in Thailand for a length of time and fallen in love with the country, like myself, then this book is perfect for you. The authors have lived and worked in Thailand for very long periods of time and have great insights into the nuances of Thai culture, from ladyboys to folded napkins, sniff kisses to Buddha amulets, the authors have compiled beautiful pictures with insightful writings.

Great for learning about Thai culture and bringing back great memories. The only negative is the price, however it is hardback, with beautifully printed pages full of photos.

If you’ve never been to Thailand, and you are thinking of buying this book, it will give you a much broader knowledge of Thai culture than many guide books provide, thus setting you up for your trip to Thailand with a greater idea about how Thais live and act, and why.

 

Posted in: Blog
February 11, 2013

Lonely Planet Thorn Tree

Thorn Tree Forums

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?newPost=true&messageID=21135166&

 

Has anyone read the book Very Thai: Everyday Pop Culture?

DCAdventurer

Feb 11, 2013 9:22 AM Posts: 1

Hey all,

I’m organizing a group trip to Thailand May 18-29 for travelers from the Washington DC Area. I try to choose a book, fiction preferred, for all of our trips, so that we can pass the time while traveling and enjoy a book discussion during our trips.

I couldn’t find any novels written by Thais that are in English that seemed appropriate as a first-time introduction to read and discuss during a vacation in Thailand. I’m thinking of choosing the non-fiction Very Thai: Everyday Pop Culture since it has great reviews and explains lots of fun things you will see in Thailand.

Have any of you read this book and is it an appropriate/fun read during a trip to Thailand with a group book discussion?

Thanks,

Nejla Routsong

Organizer, DC Global Adventurers

 

PhiMeow

Feb 11, 2013 1:03 PM Posts: 3,560

Sorry I have not.

However, have a look at this thread. Although it’s about books to read in general, there are quite a few gems in there regarding fiction in/about/ Thailand and SE Asia.

The one I just finished is a steampunk short story set in a future Thailand called Windup Girl.

Happy reading!

 

Krest

Feb 11, 2013 3:26 PM Posts: 412

By some strange coincidence I met the author Philip Cornwel-Smith last Wednesday, and watched a presentation on the subject of his book.

He was interesting and engaging, its surprising just how much of Thai culture is imported from overseas. or is even a fairly recent invention. Thai things that were not invented till the mid 20th century include Pad Thai, using the greeting sawatdee and also the use of the wai as a greeting.

His book is about to be printed as an updated edition, the new version will be ready in approx one month and contains lots of updates. Worth getting, but also worth holding off for the new edition.

 

Mike_N

Feb 12, 2013 2:59 AM
Posts: 233

I’ve got the book, it is interesting and will explain the inevitable WTFs when you get to the country (like “oh, money does grow on trees, or why toilet paper is on the table and not where it belongs) but I don’t think it is the sort of book you discuss before getting here

 

homrsickalien

Feb 12, 2013 5:23 AM Posts: 63

it’s good for sure, I’d also definitely recommend Robert Cooper’s culture shock: Thailand and Alex Kerr’s Bangkok found

 

PleistoceneMegaFauna

Feb 12, 2013 5:29 PM Posts: 540

It’s one of the best books on Thailand. It may be the best book on popular culture that you would run into on a trip. Enjoyable and written with affection for the country.

 

deeral

Feb 12, 2013 6:40 PM Posts: 873

IMO If not the best book it is certainly one of the best books on modern Thai culture in the English language; well informed and well researched with some references and a bibliography.

There are a lot of those who post on TT who really could do with reading it before they post.

My only criticisms are that it is published in an annoyingly small typeface and that it hasn’t to my knowledge had an updated edition published.

 

Krest

Feb 12, 2013 6:43 PM Posts: 412

The author addressed this when I met him last week. he said the new version coming out in a month will have a larger typeface.

 

deeral

Feb 12, 2013 11:42 PM Posts: 873

He may well sell me another copy then!

 

I’m the author of Very Thai. Thanks for the feedback. I’m glad you enjoy it.

The 2nd Edition of Very Thai is now out. I launched it at London’s 1st Southeast Asian Arts Festival in October.

It is 64 pages bigger, with four extra chapters (in a new section called Thaianess) and has over 200 new photos (out of nearly 600 pictures in total). I heavily rewrote it to cover the massive changes in Thailand in recent years.

This December you’ll start to see reviews and interviews coming out about the book. I’ll also be doing some talks, mainly in Bangkok. The next one will be at the National Museum, but it just got postponed due to the political rallies.

And yes, deeral, we increased the font size!

If you are interested in the subject, I’m about to relaunch the verythai.comwebsite, which will also have feeds from the #verythai hashtag threads on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. And there is a Facebook page on the book at Facebook.com/VeryThaiBook. So you can interact about the book, post your own pictures and hear about upcoming events.

 

Yes-bought it last week, I’m reading the second edition right now – I noticed the font size – better,

I still believe it is the best book on vernacular Thai culture and a must for anyone visiting, living in or in any way interested in Thailand. As you say there have been massive changes in Thailand over the last decade – and I’m hoping your book has kept pace

Are you speaking anywhere near Chonburi? – please PM me if you are or would like a gig.

So done the Facebook, twitter etc….where’s my T-shirt???

 

Thai Culture books ?

by johna37

Lp’ers book recommendations for Thai culture plz…
I have some general knowledge and nit noi language skills..

What top FIVE social things have you learnt that are distinctly Thai ?

Lost in translation

1

the two most important:

  1. anything a thai wants you to do is part of thai culture
  2. anything a thai doesn’t want to do, is not part of thai culture

joking aside, the basic are well know, don’t violate the head or air space above it.

visiting a wat/house of worship, dress as you would visiting you own house of worship.

the rest is basic courtesy you were raised on, hopefully, i was. respect elders, don’t argue, talk back and basically treat people like you want to be treated.

rule to survive…………you are a guest, don’t attempt to change anything, it is their house/country.

2

2 years ago

Very Thai – Philip Cornwel-Smith and John Goss – 2005
ISBN 974 9863 00 3

Probably the standard for any EL commentary on Thai culture.
I would like to think there is a new edition on the way

 

 

Posted in: Blog
October 23, 2012

Trip Advisor

“Very Thai” Review of Central World Plaza

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g293915-i3686-k4472797-Books_about_thai_culture-Thailand.html

By Globetrottinggourmet on 23 October 2012

‘A vast mall, rebuilt after the recent riots. But worth a detour this month, just to see Philip Cornwel Smith’s massive photos of everyday life gracing the mall exterior. Go in the evening when they are lit. (I also liked his book, same name: Very Thai).’

 

 

Thailand Travel Forums

Books about Thai culture!

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g293915-i3686-k4472797-Books_about_thai_culture-Thailand.html

Kauai1234 (PA) posts: 114, reviews: 4

May 12, 2011, 2:15 PM

Anyone have any recommendations about good books about Thai culture? Ever since I have returned from Thailand I am fascinated with this country and want to learn more about the people, their culture, etc.

Let me know:)!

 

6. Re: Books about thai culture!

iwsteve1 (Isle of Wight) posts: 28, reviews: 3

May 13, 2011, 9:10 AM

‘Very Thai’ published by River Books

Gives a good insight into modern Thailand & what makes it tick

also answers a lot of those questions you wonder about but don’t know who to ask

 

7. Re: Books about Thai culture!

ctrunfree (Melbourne, Australia) posts: 2,266, reviews: 93

May 13, 2011, 11:14 AM

+1 for “Very Thai”- very informative, and funny!

Posted in: Events