These five books cover the whole essence of Nepal, its people, places and rich history to the changes it has seen over the years. Reading them on your travel might just give you ideas for your next adventure.
If asked about the essentials when I travel, books would definitely come high up on my top 10 list. Nothing is better to keep you company on your long flights and sleepless nights than a gripping read. While I'm not implying that you miss the whole trip reading your book but reading a few chapters here and there when you’re alone and need to pass time is fine.
The following books cover the whole essence of Nepal, its people, places and rich history to the changes it has seen over the years. Reading them on your travel might just give you ideas for your next adventure.
1. Gaiety of Spirit
The Sherpas of Everest - Frances Klatzel
The Sherpas are an extraordinary ethnic community, who settled in the remote valleys of the Himalayas about 500 years ago. Culture seeped in rich philosophical traditions of Himalayan Buddhism, this book dives into the lifestyle and reflections of the tight-knit society.
Since the birth of modern mountaineering, the term Sherpa has been used to refer to Himalayan men working as guides on expeditions in and around the area of Mount Everest. Known mostly for their remarkable mountaineering skills and expertise, Sherpas are much more than mere high-altitude porters.
For three decades, writer and naturalist Frances Klatzel has lived and worked with Sherpas near Mount Everest. During this time, she has gained intimate access and profound knowledge of the people, helping to create the Sherpa Cultural Centre at Tengboche, the largest Buddhist monastery in the region.
Infused with the author's own reflections and experiences, and complete with colour photos highlighting Sherpa life from the metaphysical to every day, Gaiety of Spirit will take the reader on a magnificent journey toward a richer level of understanding of Sherpa culture, traditions, symbols, beliefs and history.
2. Annapurna Circuit
Himalayan Journey - Andrew Stevenson
Annapurna Circuit is a trek around the Annapurna Massif, which leaves everyone with an unforgettable experience. Starting the journey from jungles filled with greenery to canyons so deep that sunlight only penetrates at noon, travelling through alpine forests and finally to the mountains with tantalising vistas. Annapurna Circuit will always have a surprise in store for travellers passing through.
Many disenchanted westerners have gone to the Himalayas in search of renewal, but few have written about the experience as perceptively or as intimately as Andrew Stevenson. A traveller all his life, Stevenson responds to people and places with an openness unique to the cultural nomad. His portraits of the people of the Annapurna, and of the fellow trekkers who intermittently shared his journey, are a delight, and his descriptions of the landscape and the physical hardships of the trek are enthralling. Like every travel book of quality, this is also the record of a spiritual journey, and Stevenson movingly records his impressions of the Buddhist teachings lived out around him. A richly rewarding read on every level.
3. Picturesque Nepal - Percy Brown
Nepal, where the wonderful natural scenery and the creative genius of a man have combined to make a powerful appeal to all lovers of picturesque and of the imaginative art. This book depicts the transition that the craftsmen and the country itself have gone through with the influence of time.
The brief photographic survey included in these pages is an attempt to preserve some of the main features of unique craftsmanship, now falling rapidly into decay and may.
A scholar’s choice edition of this book has also been released and is part of the knowledge base of civilisation as we know it.
4. Just for the love of it - Cathy O’ Dowd
Many revere the highest peak in the world, many dreams of conquering it, some conquer it and some achieve the unthinkable. Cathy O’Dowd tries to do the unthinkable and shares her story in this book.
This is an expanded edition, containing an extra chapter written exclusively for the softcover and eBook editions. The original book tells the story of Cathy O'Dowd's first three Everest expeditions: her successful ascent of the south col route in 1996 (becoming the 1st South African to climb Everest), her unsuccessful attempt on the north ridge route in 1998 and her successful return in 1999 (1st woman in the world to climb Everest from both sides).
Featuring a new chapter, Cathy shares the previously untold story of her fourth Everest expedition, an attempt to climb a new route on the seldom visited and very risky east face of Everest.
5. Thamel Dark Star of Kathmandu - Rabi Thapa
For long, a sleepy rural enclave, Thamel is today the beating commercial and cultural heart of Kathmandu. A dizzying square of hotels, bars, cafés, bookshops and temples to which visitors and residents gravitate, drawn to its dazzle and its possibilities.
In this unusual biography of the place, Rabi Thapa revisits the haunts of his youth. Tramping around its temples and monasteries, he unravels its layered history as well as the tales of the kings, monks and travelling merchants who laid its foundations. From residents—both Nepali and those who visited and never left—he pieces together the story of Kathmandu of the ‘flower-power’ sixties, the legendary Freak Street, and the rise of modern Thamel. On its streets, he encounters the stories of glue-sniffing children, local toughs battling for turf, transvestite prostitutes turning tricks, and entrepreneurs looking to make it big. What emerges is a finely detailed portrait of a place that is not only a vibrant, ever-evolving reflection of the social mores of Kathmandu but also an enduring staging post for Western fantasies of the East.
Written in the best traditions of flânerie, Thamel combines history, memoir and sharp reportage to tell the electric story of a place forever in flux, forever reinventing itself to suit the appetites and desires of those who seek it out.