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Greater than a Tourist: Lake Tahoe*

Poorly Organized Set of Travel Tips

I enjoy traveling, and I am familiar with the Lake Tahoe area because we went there quite often when I was a child. I will admit it has been some time since I have been there. While I did like the tips themselves given by someone who knows the area, I thought the book lacked organization, was too short to be genuinely of much help, and was flawed in its basic design.

In terms of organization, there truly is none. This is a pamphlet of 50 random tips. Some are on similar ideas, so it would make sense to group them together. For instance, there are several tips about skiing or what to do in the snow. These would have been great to group together. Instead, there are some at the beginning, and one sneaks it at the end. This book could have been organized in so many different ways: by season, by activity, indoor versus outdoor, things to do in Tahoe itself versus things to do in other cities and towns, etc. To me, too, it felt like there was a bit of cheating to inflate the numbers. For instance, the “castle” of Tahoe is actually given two tips out of the 50, the hidden castle and learning about the castle; those certainly could have been combined into one tip! I also thought that some tips should be grouped together into one recommendation, like all the breweries in a particular town or area. This would have given more space for other tips, of which I know there has to be many because there is so much to do in and around the Tahoe area

The book is shorter than you might think from its number of pages. The text of the tips starts around the 15% mark in my Kindle for PC app and actually stops at the 63% point; the rest is a “bonus book” that purports to be about traveling light, but it is more about packing in general and some trip prep. So, only about half of the book is tips about Tahoe.

To me, there is an inherent flaw in the design of this book. Namely, it really revolves just around these 50 poorly organized tips. There’s a very brief opening paragraph, but that is the extent of the “orientation” you get to the area. So I found it lacking a true orientation to the area, which I think is really necessary for a book like this. Luckily, I know the area because I have visited it so many times, but I can imagine that a tourist from another state or country might find themselves scratching their heads while trying to read this book. If the tips had been organized, they could have had header sections that described more generalities about the combined topics before diving into the details. Orienting, overarching information grounds the reader so he or she can better take in the information.

The ARC copy I received didn’t have any maps, diagrams, or photos in it. In looking at the 10% availabe at Amazon, I see that it does have a general high-level map of the area and a diagram of sorts but no photos. I think photos are an essential part of any travel book. Armchair travelers like to imagine the places they read about, perhaps envisioning themselves there; photographs scratch that itch.

The book, or at least the ARC version of the book I received, is full of issues with grammar, punctuation, usage, and formatting. In one of the first tips, Tahoe itself was not capitalized! There were other issues with capitalization and spelling, even of some business names. I’m hoping this has been cleared up for publication. The most crucial mistakes were made after the 10% mark, so I cannot check on Amazon to see if these have been corrected.

I wanted to like this book because I am fascinated by the idea of the series, learning more about a place from a local. (And arguably, the author of this book may not be considered a local as she is not a permanent resident.) I am mostly an armchair traveler who does travel on occasion. I was hoping to find a series that I could count on for cool information about other places I might travel. But I do not think that these books, if this is a fair sample, would serve that function. Unless you have other books or information about the areas covered in this series, you would most likely find yourself more confused than enlightened by reading this book.