The Best Book on Romania I’ve Found Yet
Jessie and I have been reading a ton of books about Romania, its people, culture, language, history, etc. One of the better books was The Complete Insider’s Guide to Romania by Sam R. This book is a little rough, like most self-published books – graphic design is odd, layout could be better, some spelling and grammar errors – but it’s enjoyable and very informative.
First, though, a warning: this book is not for kids. It’s a very honest look at Romania and Romanians, not just your typical guidebook. As a result, there are some sections that could very well offend you and you may have to skip over those. For instance, Sam R openly discusses topics like Romanians’ loose views on sexuality and dress, finding prostitutes, how to hook up with a Romanian guy or girl, what kind of alcohol is the best and cheapest in Romania, etc. So if you can’t handle that kind of stuff, he does have a “missionary” version of the book that you may like better. I haven’t read it, but according to the description, it’s got less of the racier stuff and more on the religion and culture. You can find that version here.
That being said, I really liked the honesty of the book. I’m not going to look for prostitutes in Bucharest, but I like knowing about it so I know what to pray against and what we’re getting ourselves into.
The book is really funny and a lot of fun to read, which is a rarity in our stack of books on the nation. It was hard to put down. I loved Sam R’s sense of humor, and the stories and situations he talks about are often hilarious.
It’s also incredibly informative. He doesn’t have all the information on all the hotels of Romania, but he gives you the real scoop of the ones you want to stay away from and the ones you want to check out. He doesn’t give you all the history of every bit of Romania, but he tells you the stuff you need to know that really matters when you live in the country. He doesn’t have all the maps for all the public transport, but he’ll tell you where to go to find those maps and exactly how to get on a train, where to stand for the bus so you don’t get trampled, how to get around the cheapest, etc. The book is a wealth of information on the topics you really want to know about.
Where the book particularly shines more than any other is in dealing with the culture of Romania. He dissects Romanian thinking and customs, honestly talking about the positives and negatives, the good things and the really frustrating things about Romania. Most guidebooks aren’t as honest about Romania – they try to make everything look beautiful and great – but Sam R shows Romanians with all their unique national flaws, not ignoring some of the things that make living in Romania strange, difficult, or frustrating.
I definitely recommend this book. I wish the layout were better, I would like an index of topics, I’d like a little more information on everything, and some of the racier stuff could have been toned down a bit, but it’s really fun to read, had me laughing out loud at points, shows Romanians in a very real and honest way, and has all the information you need to know and none of the stuff that doesn’t matter.