The most recommended books about Nepal

Who picked these books? Meet our 40 experts.

40 authors created a book list connected to Nepal, and here are their favorite Nepal books.
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Book cover of A Glimpse of Eternal Snows: A Journey of Love and Loss in the Himalayas

Claire Bennett Author Of Learning Service: The Essential Guide to Volunteering Abroad

From my list on international volunteering.

Who am I?

I first volunteered overseas as a teenager. Driven by an insatiable desire to change the world, I helped to found a rural development organisation, PHASE, but found myself confronted with and paralysed by the complexities of the aid world. So as not to become jaded, I since shifted my focus to tackle what I believe to be the root causes of injustice in the world through global education, including researching and writing Learning Service: The Essential Guide to Volunteering Abroad. I now mainly work as a consultant to improve the ethical practices of volunteer organisations.

Claire's book list on international volunteering

Claire Bennett Why did Claire love this book?

A poignantly written memoir about a couple’s decision to volunteer in remote Nepal with their three young sons, one with a severe disability. Jane is a doctor and her husband is an engineer, and while they attempt to make a difference in the lives of the people they live and work amongst, they also strive to provide the best possible lives for their children. This includes baby David, whose alternative life is to be stocked up with medication and given daily blood tests in UK hospitals, as an ‘interesting medical case’. 

A zoologist by training, Wilson-Howarth’s prose is wonderfully observant of the natural environment, and little David is bound to capture every reader’s heart.

By Jane Wilson-Howarth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Glimpse of Eternal Snows as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Set against the backdrop of one of the most colourful countries in the world, A Glimpse of Eternal Snows is an inspiring story of courage, love and a family's determination to give their child the best life possible. In pulsating, polluted Kathmandu and an idyllic village at the foot of the Himalayas, 'Doctor Jane' and her engineer husband Simon hope to make a difference: Jane to fulfil her vision to heal and advocate for the poor, Simon to avert the floods that threaten to devastate the country every monsoon season. The Nepali people are accepting of whatever fate flings at…


Book cover of Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal

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.

Who am I?

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?

When Conor Grennan embarked on a journey around the globe, beginning with a three-month stint volunteering at an orphanage in civil war-torn Nepal, he never imagined the children were not actually orphans but had been taken from their families by child traffickers. He became attached to the rambunctious children and decided to reunite them with their parents. Little Princes illustrates how one person can make a huge difference in the lives of others. I noticed a percentage of book profits goes to Next Generation Nepal, the non-profit he founded to assist the children. I was hooked. That cemented my resolve to tell my story of solo travel and the village that asked for my help. I founded the non-profit Nepal One Day at a Time Society, wrote my first book (noted above), dedicated profits back to the children, and created a partnership with Kathmandu-based NGO Sambhav Nepal. Thanks, Connor!

By Conor Grennan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The riveting story of Conor Grennan's year in Nepal reads like a cross between Into Thin Air and Three Cups of Tea. While volunteering at an orphanage, Conor discovers that the children are not orphans: they are trafficked. Despite the danger, Conor treks up dirt paths with photographs of the children, miraculously reuniting dozens of families.

It's 2006 and Nepal is a country torn apart by war, greed and corruption. Caught in the middle are the Nepalese children, snatched and sold into slavery, the kidnappers promising their families that they will be taken to a safe haven from where they…


Book cover of Reciting the Goddess: Narratives of Place and the Making of Hinduism in Nepal

Michael Baltutis Author Of The Festival of Indra: Innovation, Archaism, and Revival in a South Asian Performance

From my list on Kathmandu, Nepal.

Who am I?

Having spent two years living in Kathmandu over a half-dozen visits, I have had the wonderful opportunity to encounter, learn about, and be baffled by the many local cultures that intersect in Nepal’s capital and largest city. With a PhD in Religious Studies and expertise in the Sanskrit language of classical India, I turned to Nepal to examine religious life on the ground. Living in Kathmandu during the second People’s Movement of 2006 – and like everybody else then, under a “shoot to kill” curfew for three weeks – left an indelible mark on me and my scholarship on this magnificent place. 

Michael's book list on Kathmandu, Nepal

Michael Baltutis Why did Michael love this book?

This award-winning study combines accessible translations with local and global studies of the goddess Svasthani and her domestic devotees. A goddess little known outside of Nepal, Svasthani is embodied in the text itself and celebrated by families in the cold month of January.

Her only recent depiction as an icon in her own temple is a testament to the ever-changing forms of religion and culture in a corner of the world where living goddesses have long held significant power. 

By Jessica Vantine Birkenholtz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Reciting the Goddess is the first book-length study of Nepal's goddess Svasthani and the popular Svasthanivratakatha textual tradition. In the centuries following its origin as a simple local legend in the sixteenth century, the Svasthanivratakatha developed into a comprehensive Purana text that is still widely celebrated today among Nepal's Hindus with an annual month-long recitation. Jessica Birkenholtz uses the Svasthanivratakatha as a medium through
which to view the ways in which political and cultural shifts among Nepal's ruling elite were taken up by the general public.

Drawing on both archival and ethnographic research, the book examines Svasthani and the Svasthanivratakatha…


Book cover of Annapurna: A Woman's Place

Cathryn J. Prince Author Of Queen of the Mountaineers: The Trailblazing Life of Fanny Bullock Workman

From my list on barrier breaking women.

Who am I?

I have loved writing since I was in grade school and after graduating university with a degree in International Affairs I became a journalist. I’ve written six non-fiction books and also teach Journalism at SUNY Purchase.  I’ve always been fascinated about the way one person’s life or one seemingly small episode in history allows us a way to examine the larger picture: whether it was how Fanny Bullock Workman showed what it meant to be a woman in a predominantly male world of mountain climbing or how the deliberate sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff in the closing days of WWII showed that war is never black and white, that there are layers to people and stories and events that we should always try to consider.

Cathryn's book list on barrier breaking women

Cathryn J. Prince Why did Cathryn love this book?

It illustrates how one woman’s courage to forge ahead in a male-dominated world produced scientific work that challenged gender stereotypes and led to all-male clubs breaking their male-only rules.

By Arlene Blum,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In August 1978, thirteen women left San Francisco for the Nepal Himalaya to make history as the first Americans—and the first women—to scale the treacherous slopes of Annapurna I, the world’s tenth highest peak. Expedition leader Arlene Blum here tells their dramatic story: the logistical problems, storms, and hazardous ice climbing; the conflicts and reconciliations within the team; the terror of avalanches that threatened to sweep away camps and climbers.

On October 15, two women and two Sherpas at last stood on the summit—but the celebration was cut short, for two days later, the two women of the second summit…


Book cover of Beyond the Sky and the Earth: A Journey Into Bhutan

Jessica Mudditt Author Of Our Home in Myanmar: Four years in Yangon

From my list on living abroad.

Who am I?

I left home in Melbourne to spend a year travelling in Asia when I was in my mid-twenties. I ended up living abroad for a decade in London, Bangladesh, and Myanmar before returning to Sydney in 2016. My first book is about the four years I lived in Myanmar and I’m currently writing my second, which is about the year I spent backpacking from Cambodia to Pakistan. My third book will be about the three years I worked as a journalist in Bangladesh. My plan is to write a ‘trilogy’ of memoirs. Living abroad has enriched my life and travel memoirs are one of my favourite genres, both as a reader and a writer.

Jessica's book list on living abroad

Jessica Mudditt Why did Jessica love this book?

I know that I have really loved a book when years later I can still remember not just its plot, but exactly where I was when I read it. I have fond memories of reading Zeppa’s book in my guesthouse in Kathmandu in Nepal after pouncing on a secondhand copy. It felt like meeting a new friend. 

Zeppa swaps her dull existence for a two-year teaching post in a Himalayan village. She has fascinating experiences and falls in love with a Bhutanese man. Some of the detail about Bhutan is darker than I expected.

I’ve wanted to go to Bhutan ever since. I came close to getting there was when I lived in Bangladesh, but ultimately, I never did manage it. It’s one of those places that have gotten away from me, but I hope to get there one day.

By Jamie Zeppa,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Beyond the Sky and the Earth as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jamie Zeppa was 24 when she left a stagnant life at home and signed a contract to teach for two years in the Buddhist hermit kingdom of Bhutan. Much more than just a travel memoir, Beyond the Sky and the Earth is the story of her time in a Himalayan village, immersed in Bhutanese culture and the wonders of new and lasting love. Whether you're travelling to Bhutan, looking for the best travel writing around, or wishing to be transported to a culture, mindset, and spiritual ethos wonderfully different from your own, Beyond the Sky and the Earth is a…


Book cover of The Explorer's Garden: Rare and Unusual Perennials

Robert Pavlis Author Of Garden Myths: Book 1

From my list on practical gardening.

Who am I?

I love gardening and learning about unusual plants but I find that many gardening books don’t provide a lot of useful advice. I grow over 3,000 different types of plants and have a background in chemistry and biochemisty. I teach gardening to new gardeners and garden design to more experienced gardeners. My students want to learn practical things like solving pest problems and growing plants with more flowers. I am always on the lookout for books that provide them with hands-on practical advice they can use right away. 

Robert's book list on practical gardening

Robert Pavlis Why did Robert love this book?

I am a plant collector and love growing unusual plants, especially perennials. When I first picked up The Explorers Garden, many of the plants in it were new to me. I fell in love with Daniel Hinkley and his plant selections and have now grown many of the plants in this book.

Unlike many perennial books that all show you the same 100 common plants, this book is full of plants nobody else talks about. Daniel Hinkley travels the world to discover new plants and describes some of the best in this book. These plants are uncommon, but many are now available in better nurseries.

By Daniel J. Hinkley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Explorer's Garden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Dan Hinkley's quest for distinctive plants has led him on expeditions to China, Korea, Nepal, Chile, and remote areas of North America. "The Explorer's Garden: Rare and Unusual Perennials" presents the most fascinating perennials found during Hinkley's treks around the globe, describes the assets each plant brings to the garden, and explains how it is best cultivated and propagated. Illustrated with Hinkley's own splendid photographs as well as those of Lynne Harrison, this new paperback edition includes a new preface by the author and a completely updated list of sources for plant material.


Book cover of Annapurna: The First Conquest of an 8,000-Meter Peak

Craig Storti Author Of The Hunt for Mount Everest

From my list on the climbing history of the Himalayas.

Who am I?

I fell in love with the Himalayas in the 8th grade and vowed to go there one day. Eighteen years later I fell in love again, with a woman this time, who was living in Nepal. While living there I trekked extensively and read everything I could about the mountains, especially Everest. I thought it was odd that all the Everest books started in 1921, but the mountain was discovered in 1853. What took them so long? Hence my book The Hunt for Mount Everest.

Craig's book list on the climbing history of the Himalayas

Craig Storti Why did Craig love this book?

Annapurna is a classic: a classic book about a classic climb. Annapurna is only the 10th highest mountain in the world, but it is the most dangerous of all 14 of the giants, those peaks over 8,000 meters. It should not even have been attempted under the circumstances described in this book. But never mind: the odds were utterly against success. No worries on that front; the French—they were the ones trying—were never going to be the first to summit a giant. Only no one told them. (Craig Storti’s forthcoming book retells this classic tale.)

By Maurice Herzog,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Top 100 Sports Books of All Time, Sports Illustrated "Those who have never seen the Himalayas, those who never care to risk an assault, will know when they finish this book that they have been a companion of greatness."-New York Times Book Review In 1950, when no mountain taller than 8,000 meters had ever been climbed, Maurice Herzog led an expedition of French climbers to the summit of an 8,075-meter (26,493-foot) Himalayan peak called Annapurna. But unlike other climbs, the routes up Annapurna had never been charted. Herzog and his team had to locate the mountain using crude maps, pick…


Book cover of The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World

Rachel Rose Author Of Creating Stillness: Mindful Art Practices and Stories for Navigating Anxiety, Stress, and Fear

From my list on helping you know through creativity.

Who am I?

I've been making messes with paint, string, and words, as well as in love, mothering, and in virtually every other way imaginable my whole life. Eventually, an expertise began to grow, and the confusion in my life began to make sense through my creations, while at the same time, the seemingly irrelevant words and textures I was making started to tell me something about my life. Eventually, my lived experience and training in the Expressive Arts Therapies have led me to the roles of teacher, educator, and contemplative artist. If we pay attention to what we express and how we express things, we can find our way through any mess we find ourselves in.

Rachel's book list on helping you know through creativity

Rachel Rose Why did Rachel love this book?

A great insight in my life has been realizing that the Western world has tricked us into believing there is only one way to know and understand the world.

What do stories of ancient cultures from across the world have to do with creativity and healing? Wade Davis has spent his life living intimately with other cultures and plants; the lessons captured in this book require us to take pause and realize everything we have taken for granted about what we know and how we know it.

As Davis says, "rediscovering the diversity of the human spirit" requires us to unshackle ourselves from our biases and recognize that some things can’t be explained or understood through the narrow lens of the Western world.

Creativity and the imagination are fundamental to being human; this book caused me to question what I was missing by not fully recognizing them as a way…

By Wade Davis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Every culture is a unique answer to a fundamental question: What does it mean to be human and alive? In The Wayfinders, renowned anthropologist, winner of the prestigious Samuel Johnson Prize, and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Wade Davis leads us on a thrilling journey to celebrate the wisdom of the world's indigenous cultures.

In Polynesia we set sail with navigators whose ancestors settled the Pacific ten centuries before Christ. In the Amazon we meet the descendants of a true lost civilization, the Peoples of the Anaconda. In the Andes we discover that the earth really is alive, while in Australia we…


Book cover of The Incorporated Wife

Susanna Erlandsson Author Of Personal Politics in the Postwar World: Western Diplomacy Behind the Scenes

From my list on everyday gendered practices and political power.

Who am I?

I am a historian with a doctorate and years of experience in diplomatic history. While researching a foreign minister’s policy decisions, I stumbled across his wife’s diaries. Later, I went back to read them. What started as sheer curiosity turned into a mission when I realised how vital diplomats’ wives were to the functioning of twentieth-century diplomacy. Yet I had spent years in the field without reading about the influence of gender. I wrote a book to bridge the gap and challenge the idea that diplomatic history can disregard gender if its focus is political. The books on my list show how everyday gendered practices are connected to political power.

Susanna's book list on everyday gendered practices and political power

Susanna Erlandsson Why did Susanna love this book?

In 1975, Hilary Callan published a paper on diplomats’ wives using the term incorporated wife.

In this edited volume, she and Shirley Ardener applied that concept to a broader set of occupations. I find it brilliant because the term alludes to the idea of marriage as two bodies becoming one while calling out the asymmetry of this corporeality, wives being “drawn into the ‘social person’ of their husbands”, as Callan puts it in the book’s introduction.

The term also connotes the couple as a corporation, which has helped me to think about how diplomatic couples work together. With its collection of articles, the volume acknowledges differences depending on context. At the same time, it shows how one general mechanism – the incorporation of wives – has consequences far beyond the personal.

Book cover of The Royal Ghosts: Stories

Michael Baltutis Author Of The Festival of Indra: Innovation, Archaism, and Revival in a South Asian Performance

From my list on Kathmandu, Nepal.

Who am I?

Having spent two years living in Kathmandu over a half-dozen visits, I have had the wonderful opportunity to encounter, learn about, and be baffled by the many local cultures that intersect in Nepal’s capital and largest city. With a PhD in Religious Studies and expertise in the Sanskrit language of classical India, I turned to Nepal to examine religious life on the ground. Living in Kathmandu during the second People’s Movement of 2006 – and like everybody else then, under a “shoot to kill” curfew for three weeks – left an indelible mark on me and my scholarship on this magnificent place. 

Michael's book list on Kathmandu, Nepal

Michael Baltutis Why did Michael love this book?

Samrat Upadhyay’s English-language novels and short stories often read like anthropological work on Nepal’s middle class.
The Royal Ghosts fictionalizes the sluggish economy in and urban migration to contemporary Kathmandu, the decade-long civil war that ended along with the collapse of the Hindu monarchy in 2006, and the political tensions that defined Nepal in the first decade of the current millennium. His attention to the previous king’s grasp at power using political propaganda in the form of monumental billboards in 1990 (in “Supreme Pronouncements”) reflects my own interest in similar rhetoric fifteen years later.

I also like the use of the popular religious imagery when in “Chintamani’s Women”, the main character pauses briefly at the picture of the elephant-headed Ganesh on his kitchen wall as he offers a quick prayer for his deceased mother and sick father (RG 130). 

By Samrat Upadhyay,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

With emotional precision and narrative subtlety, The Royal Ghosts features characters trying to reconcile their true desires with the forces at work in Nepali society. Against the backdrop of the violent Maoist insurgencies that have claimed thousands of lives, these characters struggle with their duties to their aging parents, an oppressive caste system, and the complexities of arranged marriage. In the end, they manage to find peace and connection, often where they least expect it— with the people directly in front of them. These stories brilliantly examine not only Kathmandu during a time of political crisis and cultural transformation but…