Are you planning a visit to Myanmar or just interested in this fascinating south-east Asian country emerging from half a century of oppression and isolation?
I did a lot of reading around my trip to Myanmar and here are the 7 books I recommend travellers should read, either before, during or after their Myanmar travel:
Burmese Days by George Orwell
Probably the most common read for any traveller to Myanmar, you will find this slim volume sold by children hanging out by Bagan’s temples and other sites. Orwell spent five years in Burma as a police officer and effectively shows the poisonous effect of colonial rule.
Finding George Orwell in Burma by Emma Larkin
Larkin follows in the footsteps of George Orwell during extensive travels through Myanmar. Of more interest is her perspective on life in the country under the military dictatorship. This is well written and a fascinating read by a woman who has a strong case for being able to analyse the country, having spent years in south-east Asia and speaking Burmese.
The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh
This is a wonderful, immersive novel from a brilliant storyteller. Ghosh brings to life brilliantly a century of Burmese history from the beginning of British rule through to the early 20th century, including the fate of the last royal family. I love a book that charts significant historical moments through human experience.
From the Land of Green Ghosts by Pascal Khoo Thwe
A book by a Myanmar national – there must be more good ones, can you recommend some please! Pascal Khoo-Thwe grew up in a remote tribal village and describes a journey that includes him studying at Cambridge University. His truly amazing life story offers a glimpse into the unique culture of a hill tribe.
Golden Earth: Travels in Burma by Norman Lewis
I’m a fan of Norman Lewis’ writing and his enthusiasm for Burma and its people shines through Golden Earth. His travels there in the 1950s were challenging to say the least but as a master storyteller he presents an authentic and colourful picture of the country.
The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason
This enjoyable novel is a little bit ‘Heart of Darkness’, set as it is deep in barely penetrable jungle. In 1886 a mild-mannered Englishman is sent to Burma to deliver and tune a grand piano. There are a few twists and turns in this atmospheric book that kept me turning the pages as quickly as possible to the end.
Leap & Hop Myanmar
If you are travelling to Myanmar with children, this is a must-have. Isabelle Demenge’s children’s travel guides offer a way in to a country that is completely accessible, with activities like a treasure hunt at Bagan and simple explanations of local traditions. Leap & Hop books are thoroughly tested on her own children .
Have you got any other books to read for Myanmar travel to recommend? Enjoy your reading and happy travel planning!