10 Books about the Himalayas

Posted on March 8, 2020 by

Mountaineering is not an easy job and one needs a lot of courage along with gentle initiation into the environment to not go mad. And before you begin the journey, here are a few books you should delve into for the Himalayan feel. Learn about the beautiful mountains and see them through the eyes of the author.

1.Seven Years in Tibet by Heinrich Harrer

This is one of the strangest books I have read and shows the journey of Harrer’s escape from British PoW camp. He traveled over the Himalayas and into Tibet near the end of the second world war. What intrigued me most about this book was the suffering of Harrer throughout the book and also his meeting with the then young, Dalai Lama.

2.The Confessions of Aleister Crowley

Crowley is also a significant mountain climber and the routes he essayed up for the ascension of K2 and Kanchenjunga were proven to be the final routes chosen for climbing those mountains. Though he never made it to the top, he succeeded in climbing around 25000ft which is a marvel considering the climb was made in 1902 with tweeds and nailed boots. The book has more than just the accounts of these climbing experiences and while it is an autobiography, not everything is to be believed.

3.Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster by Jon Krauker

A special account of May 1996 disaster as told in the words of John Krauker. Journalist and Mountaineer Jon Krauker did not know that there was a storm brewing on the not-so-distant horizon. The storm not only killed five people but also left many people in a state of disarray. This book was very enlightening about how the body adjusts to high altitudes and how the tiniest decision can be important for survival.

4. Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the conquest of Everest by Wade Davis

This book is a monumental work of adventure and history where the question asked isn’t whether George Mallory was the first to reach the Everest summit but more a question of why he kept on climbing. The writing of this book is so magnificent that it left so many lines for my collection of favorite quotes. Just inspiring words and a book that shows such heroic events is absolutely worth reading. It tells the story of twenty-six British climbers all of whom endured a lot in their quest of climbing Everest. Everest has become a symbol of radiance.

5.Lost Horizon by James Hilton

A thrilling tale of four people who got kidnapped and were transported to the Tibetan mountains. A story about Shangri-La and a mysterious Chinese man. Reading this is like slowly getting your senses overwhelmed. It is a legendary book that one can’t help but love. It is one of the magical books that cast a spell.

6.Red Shambhala by Andrei Znamenski

This book is mainly about the role played by Shambhala in Russian geopolitics during the early twentieth century. This book presents a completely different look at the subject of Soviet history which is both fascinating and Erudite. All in all, it is an interesting book about how Stalin’s oppressive secret police were penetrated by Himalayan inspired Mysticism. The story begins in the aftermath of the revolution. The attempt to convert Tibet into a Buddhist-community stronghold makes this book a good read.   

7.Himalaya by Michael Palin

Though there is a TV series as well based on the accounts of this novel, we suggest reading the novel as it covers more ground and Palin’s writing is certainly something a reader should experience. The book is quite enjoyable to read as it shows the offbeat accounts of his travels. We might not be much into celebrity writing but this list would be incomplete without the mention of this book. Even for those who aren’t into adventure, this book can prove to be an inspiration making them want to go on adventures.

8.Left for dead: My Journey Home from Everest by Beck Weathers

The journey of the life of Beck Weathers who was left to die on the summit of Mount Everest and how he escaped hypothermia and a murderous storm. The book has also been adapted into a movie but a book is always better as it has more details. This book is inspiring and shows great heroic bravery. A man’s story of survival against all odds. It did get boring at times but it is a great book overall.

9.The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest by Anatoli Boukreev

After mentioning Into Thin Air by Jon Krauker, it would have been entirely unfair to not include this book so the readers can view the disaster situation from another set of eyes. Anatoli Boukreev remains the most respected mountaineer despite Krauker’s efforts of painting the picture otherwise. This book is incredibly well written and an enthralling account of events shown in a descriptive manner. This book is one of my favourites because of the honest portrayal. The mountain-climbing business is booming and people with no experience try to attempt it without proper knowledge. It just shows the repercussions involved.

10.The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

This Man Booker Prize Winner novel set in Northeastern Himalayas, at the foot of Mountain Kanchenjunga may not be entirely about the mountains but it does keep the feel in the background as the story goes on. The book is one of the most memorable ones for its characters and themes with comprehensive storytelling. The only problem is that the pace is a little slow at times.

People who travel to the Himalayas often share their experience through writing. Amongst many books that we read, skimmed, pondered over and even reread, these are the few that we would like to go back and read again. These real and imagined journeys taught us a lot about the Himalayas.

One thought on “10 Books about the Himalayas

  • Some truly superb info , Glad I observed this. “Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are stiffened.” by William Franklin Billy Graham.

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