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SMITHSONIAN JOURNEYS

Bhutan's Peaceful Kingdom

READING AND TRAVEL GUIDE

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Books for

Enrich your travels with reading! Here's a hand-picked list prepared for your journey in conjunction with the book experts at Longitude.

Essential Reading

Item EXHML82. Buy these 5 items as a set for $107 including shipping, 15% off the retail price.
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So Close to Heaven, The Vanishing Buddhist Kingdoms of the Himalayas

So Close to Heaven, The Vanishing Buddhist Kingdoms of the Himalayas

by Barbara Crossette

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 1996
  • PAPER
  • 297 PAGES
  • FAVORITE

Asia correspondent for the New York Times Crossette portrays Bhutan and neighboring Ladakh and Sikkim as strongholds of Tantric Buddhism in an increasingly homogenized world. (NPL04, $16.95)

Himalaya, Personal Stories of Grandeur, Challenge, and Hope on the Roof of the World

Himalaya, Personal Stories of Grandeur, Challenge, and Hope on the Roof of the World

by Broughton Coburn | Richard C. Blum | Erica Stone

  • CULTURAL PORTRAIT
  • 2006
  • HARD COVER
  • 256 PAGES

A beautifully photographed overview of the geology, history and people of the Himalayas. (HML78, $35.00)

Lonely Planet Nepal

Lonely Planet Nepal

by Lonely Planet

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2012
  • PAPER
  • 420 PAGES

A comprehensive, practical guide to Nepal. (NPL28, $27.99)

Odyssey Guide Bhutan

Odyssey Guide Bhutan

by Francoise Pommaret

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2009
  • PAPER
  • 326 PAGES

An authoritative overview of the kingdom, enhanced by color photographs, well-chosen literary excerpts and many maps, this guide by Bhutan expert and ethnographer Pommaret is exceptionally good. With a general introduction to the history, geography, economy, flora and fauna, festivals and the arts. (BHU03, $23.95)

Himalaya Map

Himalaya Map

by Nelles

  • MAP

A colorful regional map of the Himalayas at a scale of 1:1,500,000, including Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet and Sikkim. (HML09, $13.95)

 
Bhutan, A Trekker's Guide

Bhutan, A Trekker's Guide


by Bart Jordans

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2008
  • FLEXI-BOUND
  • 332 PAGES

A compact, practical guide to 27 treks and walks throughout the mountain kingdom with color photographs and detailed sketch maps throughout. (BHU23, $24.95)

Lonely Planet Bhutan

Lonely Planet Bhutan


by Lonely Planet

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2014
  • PAPER
  • 304 PAGES

A guide to Bhutan with a good overview of culture, history and nature, sketch maps, a section of color photographs and plenty of practical detail on sightseeing and treks. (BHU11, $29.99)

Shangri-la: A Practical Guide to the Himalayan Dream

Shangri-la: A Practical Guide to the Himalayan Dream


by Michael Buckley

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2008
  • PAPER
  • 191 PAGES

With marvelous chapters on the many meanings and myths surrounding Shangri-La, Buckley's practical guide covers the contenders for this mythical Himalayan paradise in Southwest China, Tibet, Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan. With many maps and color photographs. (HML84, $25.99)

Against a Peacock Sky, Two Years in the Life of a Nepalese Village

Against a Peacock Sky, Two Years in the Life of a Nepalese Village


by Monica Connell

  • CULTURAL PORTRAIT
  • 2014
  • PAPER
  • 224 PAGES

Connell tells about her experience in the Nepalese Himalayan village of Talphi where she lived for two years. The place was so remote, she writes, it was a ten days' walk from the nearest road. (NPL89, $34.00)

Bhutan, Between Heaven and Earth

Bhutan, Between Heaven and Earth


by Mary Peck

  • CULTURAL PORTRAIT
  • 2012
  • PAPER
  • 144 PAGES

Peck portrays the people and landscapes of Bhutan in 50 beautifully reproduced duotone images. (BHU42, $35.00)

Fortress Monasteries of the Himalayas

Fortress Monasteries of the Himalayas


by Peter Harrison

  • RELIGION
  • 2011
  • PAPER
  • 64 PAGES

This slim book recreates the dramatic and colorful fortifications of Tibet, Ladakh, Nepal and Bhutan, recounting their history through foreign incursions, religious conflicts and civil wars to the Tibetan uprising and flight of the Dalai Lama from Potala Palace in 1959. (HML117, $18.95)

Sherpas, Reflections on Change in Himalayan Nepal

Sherpas, Reflections on Change in Himalayan Nepal


by James Fisher

  • CULTURAL PORTRAIT
  • 1990
  • PAPER
  • 205 PAGES

A detailed study of the change that mountaineering brought to Sherpa society. (NPL13, $29.95)

The Blessings of Bhutan

The Blessings of Bhutan


by Russ and Blyth Carpenter

  • CULTURAL PORTRAIT
  • 2002
  • PAPER
  • 192 PAGES
  • HARD TO FIND ELSEWHERE

Head-over-heels in love with Bhutan, the Carpenters introduce their adopted home, its people, customs, religion and history. (BHU16, $26.99)

The History of Bhutan

The History of Bhutan


by Karma Phuntsho

  • HISTORY
  • 2014
  • HARD COVER
  • 661 PAGES

This is the first book to offer a comprehensive history of Bhutan, a very young nation and the happiest country in Asia. (BHU43, $50.00)

The Life and Revelations of Pema Lingpa

The Life and Revelations of Pema Lingpa


by Sarah Harding

  • RELIGION
  • 2003
  • PAPER
  • 200 PAGES

A translation of the stories, meditations and discussions of Pema Lingpa (1450-1521), an important figure in Bhutanese religious history. (BHU24, $14.95)

The Raven Crown

The Raven Crown


by Michael Aris

  • HISTORY
  • 2005
  • HARD COVER
  • 160 PAGES

Michael Aris chronicles the rise of the Wangchuk dynasty in this beautifully illustrated history of the kingdom and its 20th-century monarchy, featuring 106 rare photographs. (BHU02, $60.00)

What Makes You Not a Buddhist

What Makes You Not a Buddhist


by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse

  • RELIGION
  • 2007
  • PAPER
  • 128 PAGES

Born in Bhutan in 1961, a Tibetan lama and filmmaker (Travellers and Magicians), Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse gives a decidedly modern take on dharma, happiness, suffering and enlightenment in this engaging primer. (TBT96, $15.95)

Power Places of Kathmandu: Hindu and Buddhist Holy Sites in the Sacred Valley of Nepal

Power Places of Kathmandu: Hindu and Buddhist Holy Sites in the Sacred Valley of Nepal


by Keith Dowman | Kevin Bubriski

  • ART & ARCHITECTURE
  • 1995
  • HARD COVER
  • 130 PAGES

This handsome book by two authorities on art and architecture documents the most significant spiritual sites along the pilgrimage route in Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur. (NPL12, $39.95)

The Snow Leopard

The Snow Leopard


by Peter Matthiessen

  • EXPLORATION
  • 2008
  • PAPER
  • 368 PAGES
  • FAVORITE

The most perceptive, acutely observed and personal of all his books, Matthiessen's account of a five-week journey through Nepal with naturalist George Schaller combines their quest for the elusive cat with a moving introduction to Buddhism and the people and culture of the Himalayas. (NPL03, $17.00)

Beneath Blossom Rain

Beneath Blossom Rain


by Kevin Grange

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 2011
  • PAPER
  • 352 PAGES

From his arrival at Paro International Airport to the last of 11 mountain passes, 24 days and 216 miles later, Grange writes with verve of his adventures on his trek across Bhutan. (BHU38, $19.95)

Beyond the Sky and the Earth

Beyond the Sky and the Earth


by Jamie Zeppa

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 1999
  • PAPER
  • 303 PAGES

Zeppa's memoir of her time as a teacher in a remote Bhutanese village shows her growing love and commitment to the people and culture. (BHU08, $16.00)

From Heaven Lake, Travels Through Sinkiang and Tibet

From Heaven Lake, Travels Through Sinkiang and Tibet


by Vikram Seth

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 1987
  • PAPER
  • 178 PAGES

An unconventional, award-winning travelogue of a 1981 trip to India from China via the Himalayas by the marvelous Indian novelist Vikram Seth. (HML19, $15.00)

Married to Bhutan

Married to Bhutan


by Linda Leaming

  • BIOGRAPHY/MEMOIR
  • 2011
  • PAPER
  • 256 PAGES

Enraptured by the customs, land and people of Bhutan, where she has lived and worked for ten years, Leaming writes with humor and candor about her often-bumpy cultural immersion, her romance with a Buddhist artist and her unexpected path to happiness. (BHU36, $14.95)

Radio Shangri-La

Radio Shangri-La


by Lisa Napoli

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 2012
  • PAPER
  • 304 PAGES

Napoli writes with easy grace in this memoir of her time working on a fledgling Bhutanese radio station. With frankness and clarity she discusses the contradictions, poverty and reality of much mythologized Bhutan as it lurches into democracy and the modern world. (BHU35, $15.00)

Snake Lake

Snake Lake


by Jeff Greenwald

  • BIOGRAPHY/MEMOIR
  • 2010
  • PAPER
  • 384 PAGES

A touching memoir by journalist Greenwald who returns to his old haunts in Kathmandu during the Maoist uprising. He struggles to balance his journeying with obligations to his depressed brother back home in the United States. (NPL75, $15.95)

Lost Horizon, A Novel

Lost Horizon, A Novel


by James Hilton

  • LITERATURE
  • 2012
  • PAPER
  • 272 PAGES

First published in 1933, this novel (and subsequent movie) introduced the world to the Himalayan paradise of Shangri-La, which a group of Americans and Englishmen discover after a plane crash. (HML73, $14.99)

A Naturalist's Guide to the Birds of India, Including Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan

A Naturalist's Guide to the Birds of India, Including Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan


by Bikram Grewal

  • FIELD GUIDE
  • 2015
  • PAPER
  • 176 PAGES
  • COMING IN MAY

A handy field guide to 280 bird species common to the Indian subcontinent. In beautiful John Beaufoy style, the guide's colorful and high-quality photographs are accompanied by detailed species descriptions, size distribution, preferred habitats and nomenclature. (IDA731, $17.95)

Travellers and Magicians

Travellers and Magicians


by Khyentse Norbu

  • FILM
  • 2005
  • DVD

The first feature shot on location in Bhutan, this film, directed by a respected lama, follows a young official on his odyssey across the country. Along the way he is joined by a mischievous monk, an elderly peddler and an old man with his daughter. (BHU22, $29.99)

More Recommendations

Here are some other groups of books that might be of interest

Longitude provides recommended reading for travelers in partnership with the leading tour operators and travel programs for hundreds of destinations worldwide. We've got the classic, new and hard-to-find books and maps to help you get the most out of your adventures.