Or perhaps I should ask that differently… SHOULD a blog become a book? I need your help dear readers. This is a participatory post!
I published my first blog post as The Meandering Naturist on December 15th of 2012. It represents my third and most enduring attempt at advocating for family naturism on the world wide web. The first pass was a website called P and C’s Naturist Travel where we simply posted reviews from our visits to naturist places. That, in turn, led to an ill-fated project called the Naturist Family Network intended to help American families interested in nude recreation find one another. A few of us did, but the project was impossible to moderate, and if it proved anything, it revealed that there are surprisingly few naturist families in the United States of America. Or at least, few willing to go public about it.
When I launched this blog, I was in the midst of planning a one-year sabbatical from my university teaching job during which we had the opportunity to travel from one corner of Europe (northern Spain) to another (the Ionian Islands of Greece.) (SEE: Blowing Through Europe) On that very first splash page, I laid out my dreams that perhaps my meandering inspired musings might one day become a book bearing a title like Nothing in my Duffel Bag: A Naturist’s Travelogue.
Here we are, almost eight years later, and the meandering has taken us to over one-hundred naturist places over six continents. The last venture was just a couple months ago, when the borders closed, airports and hotels went dark, and social nudity reinvented itself onto plasma screens subject to internet glitches and garbled speech. It seems that the opportunity to meander in the coming months, naked or otherwise, is going to be a limited endeavor, when organizing a gathering of like-minded naturists may be contained to a 42-inch television screen in a matrix of little boxes. (SEE: Social Nudity in the Age of Isolation.) At this writing, it looks like I will need to hone in my ability to speak to the virtues of meandering naked to each of the four corners of my own backyard.
As is so often is the case, the original concept of the Meandering Naturist blog reinvented itself in the months – if not moments – following its original inception. Early on there were a few pieces about what one might expect when visiting a European spa, and of course, I had to dedicate a bit of prose to offer my own personal advice for the novice or nervous nudist. But I think it’s fair to say that over time, I’ve become decidedly more opinionated on matters related to social nudity, realizing that in the end, it’s all but impossible to contextualize a trip report about a naturist destination or ideal if you don’t have some sense of the values and criteria, explicit or implicit, of the person authoring the review. Put another way, when I read recommendations for food, wine, movies, or vacation destinations, I may conclude, “I don’t like anything this dude likes, and therefore, I bet I’m gonna love the movie he just panned.” Context and perspective matters.
The post you’re reading now will be the 156th post The Meandering Naturist has published since 2012, about half of which could be categorized as travel reports, and the other half opinion/reflection pieces. Those “reflection pieces” include advocacy for the naturist cause, rants about how such is handled by the mainstream media, or most often, simply stream of consciousness essays that capture a moment in time from one person’s perspective, that one person, of course, being… me! In this case, the author has been hell-bent on legitimizing family-oriented naturism in a country where the media references to social nudity are typically full of sexual innuendo with an inferred sense of ridicule. All the while, the reading nudity-curious public simply wants to know, “Does my skin make my butt look big?”
So maybe I should write the book!
Thing is, there are lots of books about nakedness, nudity, and naturism. A few of my favorites are of an academic nature. Philip Carr-Gomm’s A History of Nakedness (Reaktion, 2012) was pivotal in helping me understand the cultural norms that infuse many of the misgivings about social nudity today, and Brian Hoffman’s NAKED: A Cultural History of American Nudism (NYU Press, 2015) helped me translate those misgivings into the pervasive ideals about naturism in America today. And I’m still working my way through Sarah Schrank’s Free and Natural: Nudity and the American Cult of the Body (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019), a hefty volume that approaches the topic of nudity with a broader stroke, beginning with “The Nudity Colony” and ending up with “Naked Lifestyle Consumerism.” A great read, but a good bit more than your average would-be naturist really needs to know.
On the other end of the spectrum are a plethora of smaller volumes that carry titles like “How to Be a Nudist,” or “Tips for Removing Your Clothes.” (I attempted to avoid actual titles, but you get the gist. Perhaps you’ve read these books.) Many of these are self-published, often heartfelt, but more often than not, poorly edited and limited in scope. Even when combing through blogs, a writer will lose me by the second misspelling or grammatical error*. That might not be fair, but I suspect I’m not alone on that point. Moral of the story? I will need a cracker-jack editor if this is going to work.
*The Meandering Naturist fully concedes to the realization that despite fastidious proof-reading, a goodly number of typos slip through on these pages as well.
Books about nudity promoted by major publishers are marketed for mass appeal, and thus, frequently loaded with double-entendre, such as Mark Haskell Smith’s Naked at Lunch or Ross Velton’s The Naked Truth about Cap d’Agde, each of which serve as part travel guide and part parody, leaving the unsuspecting reader with that funny after-taste that concedes, “Yep, I think those people who run around naked really are a little nuts.” I love Bill Bryson’s (not a naturist author, just a great writer) use of sarcasm and humor when he goes off on a tirade about the perils of queuing up to get into the Louvre, but that has never diminished my desire to see the Mona Lisa. A serious author on the topic of naturism can’t afford the luxury of self-deprecation.
Enter bloggers turned authors, Nick and Lins of Naked Wanderings, who have produced a series of travel guides that emulate and expand upon their ever growing web resource at www.nakedwanderings.com. Now available on Amazon, Nick and Lins’ travel books represent the most comprehensive guides I know to help a newbie or seasoned naturist find just the right place to commune with the sun. They follow in the tradition of some of the landmark naturist guidebooks, such as Lee Baxandall’s World Guide to Naturist Beaches and Recreation or Mike Charles’s The World’s Best Nude Beaches and Resorts. Nick and Lins have brought a breath of fresh air to table, but of course, the minute you release a hard-copy edition that reviews a particular place, it’s likely out of date before you can hit the check-out button on Amazon.
And thus… I’m not really interested in writing a guide book either. So what’s left to write?
One of the things I enjoy most about being a blogger is bumping into other people’s blogs, especially when I tap into a truly gifted writer who can speak to the dimensions of naturism that go beyond trends in pubic hair, sitting on a towel, or learning to look someone in the eye when you greet them on a nude beach. Perhaps it has been our naturist travels in Europe, where the per-capita percentage of the total populous is more naturist friendly than anywhere else on the planet. Naturism is a significant part of the tourism sector in Europe, well represented by the cross-section of people you encounter when you visit a European naturist resort.
All of which makes me wonder if Americans have simply fallen victim to the dumbing down of the naturist ideal. There is so much incessant banter about how “nudity doesn’t equal sex” – except for the people who totally embrace the idea that nudity does equal sex – fails to spawn more thoughtful discussion about why people are drawn into naturism (for reasons other than sex). My wife notes that the preceding statement sounds confusing and chaotic. Exactly my point!
Perhaps more importantly, why is such a large part of the population so vehemently opposed to the public display of a woman’s breasts, or a pair of buttocks, despite the fact that everyone has them. We tend to dismiss the whole matter by calling Americans prudish, or at very least, consumed by paranoia. But neither of those arguments really hold up in the age of sexting and casual sex. (SEE: Social Nudity in the Age of Casual Sex)
So, in the voice of academic language, maybe this is a qualitative study of the ongoing “research” my wife and I have conducted since she first visited a nude beach near Santa Cruz during college back in 1979. That’s nearly forty years of data collection that might provide something different than a directory of where to go, aiming for prose that’s a bit more introspective than instructions on how to take your clothes off once you get there.
But still, one might say, “That’s already in the blog. Why bother with a book?”
Blogs are linear by design, and usually consumed in bite-size pieces as they make their way across one’s news-feed. By contrast, a book should find its essence in an over-arching architectural idea. In this case, a decided extension of the recent trending campaign for #normalizingnaturism. Working from that principal, I’m thinking such a publication might be organized something like this:
- PART ONE: A series of essays extracted and rejuvenated from the blog, eliminating some of the dated references while refining a few key philosophical themes one derives from traveling naked on six continents.
- PART TWO: A general overview of what to expect if you intend to get naked in France, or Spain, or Thailand, or Honduras, or Japan, or New Jersey. Those are each distinctly different experiences, each with their implicit traditions and rules.
- PART THREE: A series of location specific reflections, not intended to serve as yet another guide-book, but instead, an effort to draw the reader into the joys of walking clothes-free on the coastline of Mallorca, or swimming naked in the turquoise waters of Greece, or who you’re likely to meet should you visit a remote naturist village on Phuket.
Remember, I’m one of those university types who thinks the best lessons are the ones that leave people with more questions than answers. In this case, the answer could only be found by making one curious enough to go experience it – naturism in a distant land – for themselves.
So, what do you think, loyal readers? What have I missed? What else goes in the book? Are there other things the thoughtful naturist (or would be naturist) really needs to know? Or more urgently, what does the gymnophobe* most need to hear?
*Gymnophobe: One who experiences anxiety about nudity
Here is your call to arms. Help me write the book!
Leave a comment. Send me an email. Take a moment to join the campaign in normalizing naturism. I’m just a blogger… I can’t do it alone!
I’d love to see a book. I read a lot of “book books” as they’re called these days but haven’t read any on naturism so yours would be the first (unless I start reading some of the ones mention in this article).
I particularly enjoy hearing about nude experiences outside the US including crowds, foods, demographics of visitors, and the natural beauty of the landscapes and water.
I agree…get a good editor because after I find a typo in self published books I usually stop reading.
Thanks for asking for input.
HAHAHA!!! I never really get a good proof of a blog post until I actually publish it, as that’s when my proof-reading wife actually debugs the thing. Somehow, I can never catch all the typos until the post has gone live.
We found a BUNCH this morning. You should refresh and give it another read. 🙂
There are still plenty of people out there oriented to books and libraries. There is so much lesser quality on the net, which is drowning in a plethora of aspects of naturist. Some of the newbies, the novices, might look for a book, or one may catch their eye. I couldn’t be knowledgeable about the market for a book. I would guess that one can’t really know, only mostly an educated guess “till ya get it out there.
I’ve been developing my blog for fun and social change for nearly five years now. I’m enjoying the newer media, where we can experiment with our photography and meld it into further expression with my writing. I am not limited to any specific style and the topics vary, week to week. I’m enjoying myself. People are enjoying themselves and their sense of body and naturism is evolving. As far as writing about naturism, writing my blog and writing for other blogs and magazines is enough for me.
Jbee and DF
I love your blog!
I also love to write, especially about naturism, so I’m not particularly concerned about “the market” for another naturist book. Would just like to think that if I go to the effort to comment ink to paper, that it will actually serve some greater purpose in the end.
Sort of the old adage from teachers… “If you touch just ONE life!” We’ll see how it goes. 🙂
First things first, the Google Chrome plugin Grammarly has helped (and is still helping) us enormously with eliminating typos.
Interesting that you mention how reviews are just a one-person experience. Lots of people forget about this. Online reviews are quickly replacing word of mouth, except that you have no clue who those reviewers are.
Now and then we receive a comment that our reviews are almost always positive and that because of the message at the bottom that we’ve been invited to this or that resort, we’ve probably been bribed. We understand the concern but don’t really see it that way. In the end, our reviews are the experience of 2 people, of a certain age and background, who stayed a couple of days in one place. It’s true, we’ve sometimes neglected to mention how bored we were at a certain resort. Not because we’ve been bribed, but because we think it’s a very unfair thing to say without having been there for a longer period. As far as we know, the resort could run full of party people the moment we leave. So basically, whether we write down all our annoyances or just focus on the positive aspect, it doesn’t make a single difference in how you may or may not experience the place. So we prefer to stick to the facts and tell them in a positive way because positive posts are just more fun to read.
And thanks (again) for the mention. We do like to add that next to our guides, we’ve actually written a real book as well (you can find it at three times the normal price on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Alles-uit-Dutch-Edition/dp/9089247084/).
It’s only available in Dutch though because it’s published by a publisher who uniquely works in Dutch (wrong choice from our side).
The goal of this book was to provide an alternative for the books you’ve mentioned. It’s not a heavy piece full of expensive words and scientific or historical data. Instead, it’s about what naturism/nudism means to us, our personal experience with our own story as the red line. From the first scary steps into the public spa to our nude trip around the world.
In fact, quite a similar structure to what you have in mind. If your book looks too much like ours, we’ll see each other in court 😉
Hahaha… If we see you in court, we won’t know what’s going on, because we don’t speak Dutch!! And oh!!! That’s going to make the plagiarism part difficult as well. lol
So true about the review business, and in fact, we’ve ended up embracing “mom’s Golden Rule” on that front: If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all! And thus, there are places we’ve visited that I simply haven’t written/won’t write about.
I DID link to one of your books on Amazon, figuring smart shoppers will click right on through and buy them all! That’s MY plan. 🙂
Please write and publish the book! By the way, we live at Cypress Cove and I volunteer at the American Nudist Research Library.
It seems you have the book… the collection of blog posts is your first draft. Working title: "Naturist, a journey of discovery." You weave the how you got started, why you do it, where you have visited and the philosophical and social aspects of the journey into the narrative. Your challenge is to enlarge what you have already presented with more photos (yours or others), interesting asides, and challenges you faced that were left out of your original blogs.
I look forward to reading it all in any case.
Sent: Sunday, May 10, 2020 at 5:31 AM
Thanks Rory. I appreciate BOTH your encouragement and your imagination. 🙂
Really enjoy your blog! The good news from France tonight is that tourism will gradually reopen from May 11th, starting with the so-called Covid-19 ‘Green Zones’ along the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts but subject to strict guidelines. For example, international tourists arriving at airports in Marseille and Nice will still be required to self-isolate for two weeks. Upon arrival they will be directed to a segregated zone to pick up their luggage and then will board special buses which will transport them to the port of Hyères. There a temporary structure has been opened where tourists will be requested to disrobe prior to boarding one of the several daily sailings to the Ile de Levant to commence their two week self-isolation…
Only in my dreams, Dan! Hope this will be over sooner than later and will look forward to your future writings.
Oh man! Had me going there! Was almost to the airport! Hahaha!!!! Thanks for the kind words.
Dan, please write and publish your edited and (perhaps) revised blog posts as an e-book. I prefer not to buy paper books these days, for the environment; and we *are* naturists, aren’t we (rather than nudists)? I believe you could weave your blog posts through time and through your evolving thoughts into something that ‘newdbies’ and seasoned naturists would appreciate. Part travelogue, part serious reflections on what naturism is for you (and many of us). You could bring in some of your thoughts (and those of other writers, perhaps) from The Discerning Nudist. I believe you have a lot of positive thoughts that would benefit from collation.