15 years back, when I first got my hands on the book Annapurna by Maurice Herzog, it was like watching a thriller movie. The account of the first summit of Annapurna back in the 1950s, when it was the highest mountain ever climbed, at a soaring height of more than 8000 meters. The description of this splendid journey remained in my heart. I had a dream to see these marvelous mountain ranges, which came true when I visited Nepal this year.
The best way to research a country is to pick a book written by people who have been close to the place. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find many Nepali books translated into English. But a country like Nepal, which is a second home to many avid travelers for several decades, it’s not hard to find many good reads.
Though travel guide books are an excellent source to comprehend what not to miss in a country and helps to pick the best scenic places, outstanding eateries. I believe a travelogue or a story based out of the same country gives you an actual link to the region. Here’s a list of my favorite books from Nepal:
- Annapurna by Maurice Herzog.
I found this book enthralling because it emphasizes on the experience of conquering the mountain (highest mountain ever climbed then) and the challenges of explorers who summited the extremely strenuous mountain on their first attempt. This book is a must-read for people interested in mountaineering, and even if you are not, it would be difficult to put down this journey of courage, determination, and perseverance.
2. Into thin air
“Into thin air” is an account of the tragic accident that happened on the Mount Everest expedition in the year 1996. A total of 8 people lost their lives in this horrific combination of the act of God and human error. Even if you have watched the movie based on this book, it’s a gripping read as the book fills the missing gaps the movie couldn’t convey.
3. Palpasa Cafe
Palpasa cafe is the only Nepali book that I have read, which is very well translated in English. The novel is set during the 10-year-long Maoist insurgency in Nepal. The author Narayan Wagle has done an incredible work of weaving the history into this love story. Reading the book, while sipping my coffee in a cafe in Thamel, I lived the story, which is a perfect amalgamation of romance, art, and excellent conversations.
4. Forget Kathmandu
If you have never read about Nepal, the politics, the Monarchy, and the civil war that disrupted this small country to its roots, the book “Forget Kathmandu” by Manjushree Thapa is an excellent introduction to Nepal. The writer takes us to this journey that starts from the Royal Massacre that happened in Narayanhiti Palace, to the centuries-old history of the country and, later the travel to the remote poverty-stricken regions of Nepal which were worst affected by the Maoist insurgency. The historical information and the ups and downs of Nepalese democracy are explained with the author’s personal experiences, which makes it an intriguing read.
5. Little Princes
During our travel in Nepal, we met many foreigners who volunteered in different orphanages and paid a considerable sum for the services. In the beginning, I was curious as to why someone has to pay for volunteering. Later a friend recommended me this book and as I started reading I got the answer. “Little Princes- One man’s promise to bring home the lost children of Nepal” is a story of 29-year-old Conor Grennan, who, from his one year round the world trip, dedicated a few months to volunteering in Little Princes Orphanage in Nepal. What initially was a three-month commitment later changed the lives of Conor and several others. This book made me laugh and cry at the same time and gave me hope that the world is indeed a better place because of people like Conor and several others who helped him bring the kids back to their homes.
6. While the God’s were sleeping
“While the God’s were sleeping” is a story of an American Anthropologist Elizabeth Enslin who travels to Nepal and marries to a Nepali man. The book shows the strength and self-awareness of the author and a journey to understand the language and a culture that is entirely different from her own. The story is based in a rural village in the mountains of Nepal. It enlightens the readers with the caste dynamics and cross-cultural relationships.
7. The Living goddess
While walking around the Kathmandu’s Darbar Square, we entered into Kumari Ghar through a carved wooden gate. The crowd grew in number, and later when all the mobiles were ensured to be switched off, Royal Kumari arrived. Meanwhile, everyone bowed their heads down in prayers, I looked into her eyes, and she looked back. That night I wanted to know all about that 5-year-old girl who peeped through the balcony from the third floor. I read different articles and looked through some book recommendations before I finally picked this book by Isabella Tree. The book is an impressive combination of mythology and history, with the author Isabella’s own experiences throughout this journey.
There are so many other books from Nepal that are loved by the travelers. Do let us know your favorite book in the comment section below?