100 books like Trespassers on the Roof of the World

By Peter Hopkirk,

Here are 100 books that Trespassers on the Roof of the World fans have personally recommended if you like Trespassers on the Roof of the World. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon

Dane Kennedy Author Of Mungo Park's Ghost: The Haunted Hubris of British Explorers in Nineteenth-Century Africa

From my list on exploration and cross-cultural encounters.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in exploration and cross-cultural encounters is rooted in the experience of travel itself, which rests on the disorienting appeal of unfamiliar places and peoples. Exploration was also conducted for more practical reasons; sponsoring agencies sought to open up new markets, access new resources, and gain other material benefits. What interests me about the subject, then, is both its experiential and its instrumental dimensions. What doesn’t interest me is the myth of the explorer as a romantic hero, which was invented mainly to distract from these grubbier aspects of exploration.  

Dane's book list on exploration and cross-cultural encounters

Dane Kennedy Why did Dane love this book?

It’s fair to say that explorers are pretty obsessive people, and no one does a better job portraying their obsessions than David Grann in this book about the British explorer Percy Fawcett. Fawcett made a series of expeditions into the Amazonian jungle in search of a fabled lost city.

His quest ended with his disappearance and presumed death, a mystery as intriguing as the one surrounding the city of Z itself. The title alone pulled me in, and once I started reading the book, I found it hard to stop. 

By David Grann,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Lost City of Z as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

**NOW A MAJOR FILM STARRING ROBERT PATTINSON, CHARLIE HUNNAM AND SIENNA MILLER**

'A riveting, exciting and thoroughly compelling tale of adventure'JOHN GRISHAM

The story of Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett, the inspiration behind Conan Doyle's The Lost World

Fawcett was among the last of a legendary breed of British explorers. For years he explored the Amazon and came to believe that its jungle concealed a large, complex civilization, like El Dorado. Obsessed with its discovery, he christened it the City of Z. In 1925, Fawcett headed into the wilderness with his son Jack, vowing to make history. They vanished without a…


Book cover of Libyan Sands: Travel in a Dead World

Stephen Haddelsey Author Of Shackleton's Dream: Fuchs, Hillary and the Crossing of Antarctica

From my list on forgotten expeditions and extraordinary journeys.

Why am I passionate about this?

Although I’m fascinated by the history of exploration, I’m most attracted to the stories that have been lost, neglected, or forgotten. Why, for instance, is Sir Vivian Fuchs – arguably the most successful British Antarctic explorer of the twentieth century – not as well-known as Scott or Shackleton? Why do we know so little of Operation Tabarin – the only wartime Antarctic expedition to be launched by a combatant nation? These are the kind of questions that I want to answer, and these are the expeditions that I have wanted to examine. I’ve been fortunate to meet and interview some truly extraordinary men – and telling their stories has been a joy and a privilege.  

Stephen's book list on forgotten expeditions and extraordinary journeys

Stephen Haddelsey Why did Stephen love this book?

Libyan Sands tells the story of Ralph Bagnold’s extraordinary expeditions into the North African deserts between the two world wars. Remarkably for the time, Bagnold chose to use not camels, as his predecessors had done, but specially-adapted Ford Model-A motorcars, in which he covered tens of thousands of miles in extraordinarily inhospitable, waterless conditions, travelling where no motor vehicle and hardly any people had ever been before. The knowledge he accrued would lead him, ultimately, to found and lead the Long Range Desert Group in the Second World War. 

Having written about extraordinary journeys into the polar wastes, and having come to understand, through meeting many of the explorers involved, what it is that has driven them into those wildernesses, what most caught my imagination in Bagnold’s book was his incredibly vivid descriptions of the desert, a barren wilderness that he grew not only to respect, but to love deeply:…

By Ralph A. Bagnold,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Libyan Sands as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Libyan Sands" is unmistakably the work of an Englishman, a modest, machine- and desert-loving young officer whose passionate amateur enthusiasm led to the exploration of the Egyptian western desert and the Libyan Sahara on the eve of the second world war.


Book cover of Nimrod: Ernest Shackleton and the Extraordinary Story of the 1907-09 British Antarctic Expedition

Stephen Haddelsey Author Of Shackleton's Dream: Fuchs, Hillary and the Crossing of Antarctica

From my list on forgotten expeditions and extraordinary journeys.

Why am I passionate about this?

Although I’m fascinated by the history of exploration, I’m most attracted to the stories that have been lost, neglected, or forgotten. Why, for instance, is Sir Vivian Fuchs – arguably the most successful British Antarctic explorer of the twentieth century – not as well-known as Scott or Shackleton? Why do we know so little of Operation Tabarin – the only wartime Antarctic expedition to be launched by a combatant nation? These are the kind of questions that I want to answer, and these are the expeditions that I have wanted to examine. I’ve been fortunate to meet and interview some truly extraordinary men – and telling their stories has been a joy and a privilege.  

Stephen's book list on forgotten expeditions and extraordinary journeys

Stephen Haddelsey Why did Stephen love this book?

Ernest Shackleton is now best known for the heroic failure that was his Endurance Expedition of 1914-17. But the skills that he displayed to such effect on that expedition were honed during his leadership of the British Antarctic (or Nimrod) Expedition of 1907-09 – an expedition with the conquest of the South Pole as its primary objective. Of course, in the final assessment, this expedition failed as well – because Shackleton turned for home when just 97.5 nautical miles from his objective, knowing that his team would die if he didn’t. Beau Riffenburgh’s account of this much less well-known expedition is masterly: meticulously researched and beautifully written; a joy to read. 

By Beau Riffenburgh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Nimrod as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

On New Year's Day 1908, the ship Nimrod set off for the mysterious regions of the Antarctic. The leader of the small expedition was Ernest Shackleton who, in the next year and a quarter would record some of the greatest achievements of his career and would then, together with his companions, return home as a hero. Shackleton and his party battled against extreme cold, hunger, danger and psychological trauma in their attempt to reach the South Pole and to return alive. They climbed the active volcano of Mount Erebus, planted the Union Jack at the previously unattained South Magnetic Pole,…


Book cover of The Places in Between

Eyal Halfon Author Of They Were Here Before Us: Stories from Our First Million Years

From my list on traveling the world from your armchair.

Why am I passionate about this?

Long before I became a filmmaker and many years before I knew what pre-history meant, I was a restless traveler. I was an adventurer and a hiker, fascinated by maps and mountain peaks and constantly searching for the best place for a coffee break. In my list, I have tried to combine my passion for traveling with what is really important in life: people, friends, and travel companions.

Eyal's book list on traveling the world from your armchair

Eyal Halfon Why did Eyal love this book?

I had this book beside me while recovering from an urgent hip replacement. A guy who walked solo from Herat to Kabul in the winter of Afghanistan can be a great aid when you struggle in the stairwell.

Stewarta former MP and nowadays the host of The Rest is Politics podcastdid the job for me in his excellent book and brave walk. A few months after my operation, I hiked the Mont Blanc trail. It's nothing like Afghanistan, but I did come across some icy peaks.

By Rory Stewart,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Places in Between as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 14, 15, 16, and 17.

What is this book about?

In 2001 Rory Stewart set off from Herat to walk to Kabul via the mountains of Ghor in central Afghanistan. This was to be the last leg of a 21 month walk across Asia. The country was in turmoil following the recent US invasion and the mountain passes still covered in snow. Suspicious of his motives, and worried for his safety, the authorities provided Rory with two armed guards who accompanied him, but whom he soon out-walked. Later he was given a dog, whom he named 'Babur' in honour of the great Moghul Emperor in whose footsteps the two of…


Book cover of Tibet in Agony: Lhasa 1959

Andrew G. Walder Author Of China Under Mao: A Revolution Derailed

From my list on China from Mao through Tiananmen.

Why am I passionate about this?

I took my first course about Chinese politics in 1973, when the country was still in the tumultuous last years of the Mao era. In a teaching career that began in 1982, I have spent long periods of research and teaching in China and Hong Kong. China’s shifting course has been a constant source of fascination, encouragement, and at times dismay. It is hard to imagine that the impoverished and unstable country of the 1970s would rise to become such a major economic power, one that despite its impressive expansion still faces intractable barriers to its future advancement.

Andrew's book list on China from Mao through Tiananmen

Andrew G. Walder Why did Andrew love this book?

For years, the Dalai Lama was courted by Beijing in efforts to incorporate Tibet into the new Chinese Communist State. Drawing on official Chinese documents and memoirs and interviews with Tibetan emigres, Li pulls together a dramatic account of the maneuverings, miscalculations, and events during a critical period that culminated in an uprising in Lhasa that was violently crushed by the People’ Liberation Army, leading to the dramatic flight of the Dalai Lama to India. The account provides fresh new light on a dramatic failure of Chinese policy whose consequences are felt to the present day.

By Jianglin Li, Susan Wilf (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tibet in Agony as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Chinese Communist government has twice invoked large-scale military might to crush popular uprisings in capital cities. The second incident-the notorious massacre in Tiananmen Square in 1989-is well known. The first, thirty years earlier in Tibet, remains little understood today. Yet in wages of destruction, bloodshed, and trampling of human rights, the tragic toll of March 1959 surpassed Tiananmen.

Tibet in Agony provides the first clear historical account of the Chinese crackdown in Lhasa. Sifting facts from the distortions of propaganda and partisan politics, Jianglin Li reconstructs a chronology of events that lays to rest lingering questions about what happened…


Book cover of My Journey to Lhasa

Patti Shales Lefkos Author Of Nepal One Day at a Time: One woman's quest to teach, trek and build a school in the remote Himalaya

From my list on inspiration to leap out of your comfort zone.

Why am I passionate about this?

Currently a journalist, author, and adventure traveller, I am a former inner-city educator from Vancouver, BC, Canada with a Masters of Environmental Education degree, a Wilderness Leadership certificate, and a post-graduate certificate in Journalism. Solo and with my husband I have completed several major treks in Europe, Tibet, and Nepal including Mount Kailash kora, Everest Base Camp north (Tibet), The Annapurna Circuit and Base Camp, Everest Base Camp south (Nepal), Upper Mustang, the Manaslu Circuit and Tsum Valley for a total of about 800 km. I am currently training to complete Nepal’s Great Himalayan Trail (low route), 1,500 km from one end of Nepal to the other.

Patti's book list on inspiration to leap out of your comfort zone

Patti Shales Lefkos Why did Patti love this book?

I was enthralled by the emotional and physical strength of Alexandra David-Neel as she journeyed across the extreme wilds of the Tibetan Plateau in 1923 to reach the forbidden city of Lhasa. Her brilliance as a scholar of many Eastern languages and dialects influenced me to study the Nepalese language as part of my own volunteer work. After reading this book I longed to see Lhasa and places like Shigatse and Gyantse myself so in 2009 I travelled to Lhasa before heading to Western Tibet to trek the pilgrimage kora (circumambulation) of sacred Mount Kailash. I silently thanked her when I reached 5,630 metres at Drolma La, the high pass on the three-day circuit.

By Madame Alexandra David-Neel,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked My Journey to Lhasa as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Originally published in 1927 by Harper and Brothers, this book is the culmination of more than twenty years of Madame Alexandra David-Neel's intensive study and daring adventure in mysterious territories of the East. In order to penetrate Tibet and reach Lhasa, she used her fluency of Tibetan dialects and culture, disguised herself as a beggar with yak hair extensions and inked skin and tackled some of the roughest terrain and climate in the World. With the help of her young companion, Yongden, she willingly suffered the primitive travel conditions, frequent outbreaks of disease, the ever-present danger of border control and…


Book cover of Seven Years in Tibet

Christina Dodwell Author Of Madagascar Travels

From my list on chosen by a long-term traveller and explorer.

Why am I passionate about this?

If I needed an excuse to be an explorer, I’d say it was inherited wanderlust. My grandparents moved to China in the 1920s and my grandmother became an unconventional traveller by mule in the wilds. My mother spent her childhood there. And much of her married life in West Africa, where I was born and raised. The wildest places fill me with curiosity.

Christina's book list on chosen by a long-term traveller and explorer

Christina Dodwell Why did Christina love this book?

This book opened a window into another world for me. Heinrich stopped his journey and became part of that extraordinary world as tutor and friend to the Dalai Lama. His writing of his years there created a spell of exotic mystery. That world is no longer in existence, but the city continues to be a magnet for travellers. I tried to get to Lhasa in 1984 but got arrested by Chinese police. Instead of jail, they made me write outlines 200 times that I’d turn over a leaf and not go to Lhasa. So still in search of new worlds, I went off to Yunnan’s mountain top hidden monasteries. And I treasure the memory of Heinrich’s book as an insight into a world that has gone forever.

By Heinrich Harrer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Seven Years in Tibet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this vivid memoir that has sold millions of copies worldwide, Heinrich Harrer recounts his adventures as one of the first Europeans ever to enter Tibet. Harrer was traveling in India when the Second World War erupted. He was subsequently seized and imprisoned by British authorities. After several attempts, he escaped and crossed the rugged, frozen Himalayas, surviving by duping government officials and depending on the generosity of villagers for food and shelter.Harrer finally reached his ultimate destination-the Forbidden City of Lhasa-without money, or permission to be in Tibet. But Tibetan hospitality and his own curious appearance worked in Harrer?s…


Book cover of The Life of Milarepa: A New Translation from the Tibetan

Lorne Ladner Author Of The Lost Art of Compassion: Discovering the Practice of Happiness in the Meeting of Buddhism and Psychology

From my list on biographies within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a clinical psychologist who also writes about and teaches Buddhist philosophy, psychology, and meditation. I've had the great good fortune to be closely mentored by a number of elder Tibetan teachers who were educated in old Tibet.  Over the decades, when seeking wisdom and compassion in the midst of life's challenges, I've repeatedly found inspiration, education, solace, and guidance along my own path in the enlightened and enlightening life stories of a number of the great scholar/yogis of the Himalayan Buddhist traditions. 

Lorne's book list on biographies within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition

Lorne Ladner Why did Lorne love this book?

For me personally, this book changed my life more than any other, opening me up to the inspiring possibility that a deeply imperfect person could become enlightened through sincere and mighty efforts. This work is one of the world's great stories. The name Milarepa has inspired people for a millenium throughout Central Asia, being almost synonymous with being a yogi and with redemption through heartfelt efforts. It includes Milarepa's life story and some of the many poems which he spontaneously composed to educate and enlighten others as he wandered through the Himalayas.

By Lobsang P. Lhalungpa, Unknown,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Life of Milarepa as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Life of Milarepa is the most beloved story of the Tibetan people amd one of the greatest source books for the contemplative life in all world literature. This biography, a true folk tale from a culture now in crisis, can be read on several levels: a personal and moving introduction to Tibetan Buddhism, it is also a profoundly detailed guidebook in the search for consciousness. It presents the quest for spiritual perfection, tracing the path of a great sinner who became a great saint. But it is also a powerful and graphic folk tale, full of magic, disaster, feuds,…


Book cover of Tea Horse Road: China's Ancient Trade Road to Tibet

Jane Pettigrew Author Of Jane Pettigrew's World of Tea: Discovering Producing Regions and Their Teas

From my list on tea and tea history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell into the world of tea by chance in the 1980s when I gave up a career in higher education to open a 1930s style tearoom in southwest London. I grew up in the 1950s in a typical British family that drank tea throughout the day but little did I know, as I baked endless supplies of scones and cakes for the tearoom at 4 am every day, that I would end up writing books and magazine articles, editing a tea magazine for the UK Tea Council, speaking at world tea conferences, training staff in hotels, travelling to almost every major tea producing country, and eventually working today as Director of Studies at the UK Tea Academy.

Jane's book list on tea and tea history

Jane Pettigrew Why did Jane love this book?

This hefty tome is a dream book for anyone fascinated, as I am, by the ancient trade road, dating back to the 7th century AD and stretching over 1000 miles, along which tea was carried on the backs of pack animals from southwest China up to Lhasa, where it was traded for Tibetan ponies. Freeman’s wonderful photographs and Ahmad’s text capture and explain the life of the villagers in the famous tea mountains of southern Yunnan, where tea trees live up to 3,000 years; the rituals of the Buddhist priests in their temples; the different ethnic peoples that live in the remote regions along the road; the ceremonies that take place to honour the ancient tea trees, and views of the landscape where rivers wind, yaks graze, and life revolves around tea.

By Michael Freeman, Selena Ahmed,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tea Horse Road as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the longest and most dramatic trade routes of the ancient world, the Tea Horse Road carried a crucial exchange for 13 centuries between China and Tibet. China needed war horses to protect its northern frontier and Tibet could supply them. When the Tibetans discovered tea in the 7th century, it became a staple of their diet, but its origins are in southwest China, and they had to trade for it.

The result was a network of trails covering more than 3,000 kilometers through forests, gorges and high passes onto the Himalayan plateaus, traversed by horse, mule and yak…


Book cover of Enlightened Beings: Life Stories from the Ganden Oral Tradition

Lorne Ladner Author Of The Lost Art of Compassion: Discovering the Practice of Happiness in the Meeting of Buddhism and Psychology

From my list on biographies within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.

Why am I passionate about this?

I'm a clinical psychologist who also writes about and teaches Buddhist philosophy, psychology, and meditation. I've had the great good fortune to be closely mentored by a number of elder Tibetan teachers who were educated in old Tibet.  Over the decades, when seeking wisdom and compassion in the midst of life's challenges, I've repeatedly found inspiration, education, solace, and guidance along my own path in the enlightened and enlightening life stories of a number of the great scholar/yogis of the Himalayan Buddhist traditions. 

Lorne's book list on biographies within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition

Lorne Ladner Why did Lorne love this book?

This book does a remarkable job of exploring the nature of spiritual biography itself. It compares and contrasts Western hagiographical traditions with the unique ways that Tibetans (and other Central Asians) use outer, inner, and secret biographies not only to share the stories of great Buddhist masters but also to share history, inspiration, and implicit teachings to apply to one's own practice of the path. Willis explores these themes in complex ways and also provides translations of the life stories of 6 Tibetan lamas of the Ganden tradition who combined profound scholarly and deep yogic pursuits in unique ways.

By Jan Willis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Enlightened Beings as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Here, for the first time in any Western language, are the sacred biographies of six great tantric meditators from the Gelukpa school of Tibetan Buddhism. These life stories - or namtar - are actually tales of liberation. Part of a distinct tradition in Tibetan Buddhism, they are meant not only to inspire but also to instruct others on the path to enlightenment.

In Professor Willis's introduction and detailed annotations, you'll gain a wealth of information about how to read and interpret namtar texts, as well as some valuable insights into the religious and political worlds in which these early Tibetan…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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