Book Review: Do Not Wash Hands in Plates (Taub)

Do Not Wash Hands in Plates

Author: Barb Taub © 2016

Photographers: Jayalakshmi Ayyer, Janine Smith

Publisher: Barb Taub

Genre: Nonfiction

Subgenre: Travel, Asia/India, Humor & Entertainment [Short Reads (65-100 pages)]

Reviewer: Sara

Book received from: Provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.


Once upon a time, three college friends embarked on a European backpacking trip, traveling independent of one another and planning to meet up in Luxembourg. It worked. Fast forward thirty-five years: through marriages, careers and children, they remained friends. Inspired to repeat their traveling feat, the trio plans a trip to India. And hilarity ensues.


Busy moms, whether you prefer fiction or non-fiction, Do Not Wash Hands in Plates is a delightful, and quick, read. The adventures of three middle-aged women in a country like India, with a culture and traditions that are very foreign to this (and perhaps many) Westerners are both enlightening and entertaining. Through the course of their travels they interact with dozens of locals, from tour guides to extended family of Jaya, chefs to auto-rickshaw drivers and vendors, providing fodder for many of the funny stories included in this book.

The chapters are short, stories from each leg of the journey concise, but not without a careful retelling that maintains the humor of the experience. Could the writing be stronger, to make the stories pop? Probably. But Do Not Wash Hands in Plates, is a light and easy read.

How is the photography? There are beautiful photos included in collages at the end of the chapters, until chapter nine, where an occasional image is in with the text. I am not a regular non-fiction travel reader, so I do not know if this is typical. What I do know is when I hit chapter nine and found some pictures mixed in with the stories, I liked that layout better. The collages are cute and very well organized, but it means the images are smaller and combined with those relevant to other stories in the same chapter. This resulted in some page “flipping” to match them up. The only real disappointment I had in reading Do Not Wash Hands in Plates was that with all the great stories of this trip, the one that inspired the title (which I love!) had relatively little explanation.

All-in-all, Do Not Wash Hands in Plates is a book I definitely recommend for any busy mom (or dad). Ms. Taub has a light touch in her writing, which allowed the humorous moments to shine. She also teaches valuable lessons! I might do well driving in India, but would probably struggle in terms of food and drink (I’m not a curry or chai lover). Never drink the water (plus keep your mouth shut in shower and use bottled water for tooth brushing). The trio of Barb, Jaya and Janine have had amazing and hilarious adventures and their retelling here makes for an enjoyable read. Travel vicariously through them, or be inspired by them and go on some adventures of your own!

Whatever you chose, happy trails and may the good books be plentiful!


Have you read Do Not Wash Hands in Plates? Are you a travel reader? Do you have suggestions for me, or the other readers of this post? Please leave a comment and many thanks!

The Mom Who Runs posts book reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Help others find this review by following the links to the review on the respective site and “like” or “vote” for it and many thanks in advance for doing so. 🙂

Featured image: Book cover, courtesy of Barb Taub.

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