Which books to read in Asia.

Books. We snap to attention when we hear this word and it’s a topic we can talk about for hours. We traveled India on 20+ hour trains, had to wait more than 8 hours because we missed a ferry in Indonesia, when power went off at 21 h in a small Filipino village, we were totally happy. We turned on our Kindles and dove in the literary world.

I mentioned several times that reading books from local authors is one of the cool way of exploring the country. It’s not necessary to read it in the actual country but it does add a special value. We adore Goodreads and we find a lot of interesting books there.

List of books to read in Asia


  • Shantaram (Gregory Davids Roberts): 800 pages long classic and bible of all hard-core travelers to this crazy country. Prison escape, life in slums, Indian mob, love and Bollywood. All in one book.
  • God of small things (Arundhati Roy): colorful life of twins and ties to their family situated in the south state Kerala.
  • White tiger (Aravind Adiga): from a poor driver to a rich man but with what a cost. Book describes the differences between the rich and poor which is a constant problem in India.


  • Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster (John Krakauer): one side of the story where the author was a part of tragic expedition on Everest in 1996 (known also for the famous vagabondish Into the Wild). This story is addictive so we read it even while eating in small restaurants in the Himalayas while trekking to ABC.
  • The Snow Leopard (Peter Matthiesen): exploring the endemic animals of the Himalayas but also gentle finding the meaning of life.


  • Cockroaches, Harry Hole #2 (Jo Nesbo): basic course of Thai culture and food while reading a cool crime novel starring the not-so-worn-out Harry.
  • Bangkok 8, Sonchai Jitpleecheep #1 (John Burdett): a mix of Thai and American culture stuffed in a crime novel topped with Bangkok city.
  • Ladyboys: The secret World of Thailand’s Third gender (Susan Aldous, Pornchai Sereemongkonpol): haven’t actually read this one but who wouldn’t want to reveal all secrets of these mysterious ladyboys 🙂


  • The Rainbow Troops (Andrea Hirata): a cute story about the right and strong will to get an education, situated on a small island near Sumatra.
  • Nathaniel’s Nutmeg: How One Man’s Courage Changed the Course of History (Giles Milton): today’s exotic paradise islands were one of the most important islands in history with lots of spilled blood. Who knew!
  • Snowing in Bali (Kathryn Bonella): yoga, rice fields and incense are my associations of Bali. But for some are cocaine, sex and prison. Yikes! Read this book to get another face of Bali.


  • The River of Lost Footsteps: Histories of Burma (Thant Myint-U): personal and global work about Burma now and in the past. Not so easy to read.
  • The Glass Palace (Amitav Ghosh): story how a poor Indian falls in love in Myanmar.Gentle insight of three countries.
  • Twilight over Burma: My life as a Shan princess (Inge Sargent): a true story how Austrian princess marries with a Shan prince who one day tragically disappears in a strange government siege. We felt the story even more because we’ve seen the family pictures in their home house in Hsipaw.

It's love.


On Sri Lanka, in Vietnam and Philippines we haven’t read any local literature. After some exploring on the internet I made a list of books for those of you going in there.

Sri Lanka: Mosquito, The Road from Elephant Pass, Love Marriage, The Jam Fruit Tree, Swimming in the Monsoon Sea. And there were moooooreeee!

Vietnam: The Quiet American, The Sorrow of War, Paradise of the Blind, Vietnam: Rising Dragon.

Philippines: Dusk, Ilustrado, America’s Boy: A Century of Colonialism in the Philippines, Smaller and Smaller Circles.

Of course there are many books we haven’t heard of so if anyone has a suggestion we’ll be glad to read it.

Enjoy the reading and traveling!

3 Comments on “Which books to read in Asia.

  1. Great book list!
    I’ve read a ton of books set in Nepal. My favourites:

    Annapurna: A Women’s Place by Alrene Blum

    Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan

    I just finished: The Lizard Cage by Karen Connelly which is intense and well worth the read

    • Glad you like it! Thanks for suggestions. Added to Want to read 🙂 I really want to go back to Nepal, it’s such a beautiful and inspiring place. Maybe you can add me on Goodreads so I can stalk your books 😀

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