Enriches your knowledge about Nepal’s diverse culture, unique history and breathtaking natural beauty with these perfect reads
There is nothing more enjoyable than taking a book in your hand and experiencing other worlds through sheer imagination. Some books do this and more. We at nepaltraveller.com have compiled 7 travel books about Nepal that not only takes you in a journey through this land and its paths but also enriches your knowledge about Nepal’s diverse culture, its unique history and most of all its breathtaking natural beauty.
1. ‘The Snow Leopard’ by Peter Matthiessen
‘The Snow Leopard’ is Matthiessen's account of his two months stay at Nepal when he was invited by biologist George Schaller on an expedition to study the Himalayan Blue Sheep, more commonly known as Bharal. Rich with elaborate descriptions about the rich flora, fauna and Himalayan villages the book takes its readers through a journey of vivid imagination. It is further brightened by tinges of spirituality and the writer's struggle to cope with the loss of his wife. It is an earnest portrayal of a soul searching journey that has taken one of the top spot in the books about Nepal.
2. ‘Into Thin Air’ by Jon Kraukauer
Into thin Air is the memoir of Jon Kraukauer relating to the 1996 Mount Everest disaster that resulted in the death of 12 people including Rob Hall, a New Zealand mountaineer who was the leader of the expedition. This book has forever immortalised one of the first climbers of Everest, many of whom lost their lives in this pursuit. Most of all it questioned the commercialisation of Everest and to what extent it was reasonable to be conquered, from inexperienced people to professionals like Rob Hall. The movie *'Everest'* that was released in 2015 was also based on this book.
3. ‘The Living Goddess’ by Isabella Tree
It all started with a tiny glimpse of the Living Goddess from a window in Freak Street and resulted to one of the few books ever written about this unique cultural prodigy, the Kumari by its writer Isabella Tree. For years the tradition of Kumari has fascinated the world. Despite the tumultuous political struggles with the rapid onset of modernism this ancient tradition has persisted in Nepal to this date. Through meticulous research this book exquisitely explores this tradition with just a perfect blending of history, culture, mythology and tradition.
4. ‘House of Snow: An anthology of the greatest writings about Nepal’ by Ranulph Fiennes (Foreward) and Ed Douglas (Introduction)
‘House of Snow’ is the biggest and most comprehensive collection of writings about Nepal published till date. It includes over 50 pieces of fiction and non-fiction inspired by travels over the breathtaking lands and mountains of Nepal from translated works of writers like Laxmi Prasad Devkota and Parijat to Jon Kraukauer, Manjushree Thapa, Michael Palin to name just a few. This book is a collective celebration of the beauty and depth of Nepal through the observant eyes of the writers. It is a must read for anyone looking forward to read about the writings of Nepal and a good addition to add to a collection. All profits from this book was given to charities providing relief from the 2015 earthquake.
5. ‘Kathmandu’ by Thomas Bell
Kathmandu is a unique city of the Himalayas; a city deeply rooted in traditional culture and practices yet overshadowed by its swift run towards modernisation. It is a unique city that has overseen numerous political changes, failed democracies and environmental catastrophes. Yet it has stood against everything that has come its way. ‘Kathmandu’ is the author's story as an expat through the careful unravelling of its rich history and traditions. It is an ambitious, erudite and entertaining read for anyone wanting to know more about this unique city.
6. ‘Postcards from Kathmandu’ by Frederik Selby
‘Postcards from Kathmandu’ is a memoir of Selby that provides a charming and endearing portrait of his family's adjustment to Nepal in 1960.Underneath that, Selby provides an honest and elaborate description of the unique and magical land of Nepal before Western Culture and influence had spread around the globe. It also depicts the first arrivals of people in Nepal which was closed off to the outside world prior to 1951 due to the autocratic rule of the Rana regime, few of whom were Edmund Hillary, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip.
7. ‘Thamel: Dark Star of Kathmandu’ by Rabi Thapa
Rabi Thapa's second book ‘Thamel: Dark Star of Kathmandu’ is a biography of the place, which has become the commercial and cultural heart of Kathmandu. The writer recalls his youth spent in and around the streets of Thamel; its temples and monasteries, and then beautifully unravels its history following the modernization that occurred with the arrival of tourists, travellers and hippies. Written in a literary style, Thamel encapsulates history, memoir and sharp reportage to tell the remarkable story of a place that is forever changing to meet the desires of those who seek it out.
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Shuvekshya Limbu is a Writer at Nepal Traveller.