Book Review: To a Mountain in Tibet – Colin Thubron

Title: To a Mountain in Tibet
Author: Colin Thubron
ISBN: 9780061768262
Pages: 240
Release Date: March 1, 2011
Publisher: Harper
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Travel
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

To a Mountain in Tibet chronicles Colin Thubron’s journey to Kailas, a mountain that is sacred to both Buddhists and Hindus.  His journey starts in Nepal, and as he and his guides slowly make their way to Kailas, Thubron interacts with the local people and culture, as well as reflects on the deaths of his mother and sister.

Review:

To a Mountain in Tibet is a beautifully written book about a physical and emotional journey.  After his mother’s death, Thubron decides to undertake a journey to Kailas, a spiritual center and the source of India’s four great rivers.  The trip is difficult – he proceeds on foot with his guides, starting at Simikat in Nepal.  The air is thin on his journey as he climbs from 8,000 feet to 18,600.  He sees multiple people around him become sick and have to turn back because they didn’t properly prepare for the altitude and acclimatize.  Though the journey is slow, it gives Thubron a chance to talk to the people who live in these desperate areas and get a sense of their plight.

The people that Thubron encounters are poor.  They want a better life for themselves and their children. At the Nepal-Tibet border, Thubron realizes how lucky he is – if he were a Tibetan, he would not be able to cross the border.  Once he reaches Tibet, he doesn’t hesitate to describe what he sees there, how the political situation has affected the people’s every day lives.  At the same time, though, they do not wallow in their despair, and instead look for the joys in life.

This book is just as much an inward exploration as it is an outward one, though.  Thubron probes his grief throughout the journey, saddened by the fact that he is the last living member of his family.  It’s not overly self-indulgent, but it does give the book a personal touch, with the feel of a memoir, rather than just a travel book.

Thubron’s writing is also absolutely gorgeous.  His descriptions are breathtaking and poetic, making this book a delight from beginning to end.  His writing elevates this book from a travel memoir to something else entirely.

I really enjoyed To a Mountain in Tibet.  Though it is short, it is packed with so much – personal experiences, explorations of culture and history, grief, loss, despair, spirituality, and religion, all while undertaking an amazing physical journey.

Affiliate Links:

Buy this book from Powell’s Books
Buy this book from Amazon.com
Buy this book from your local Indiebound bookstore

Comments

  1. It sounds wonderful! I think you were insightful to point out that it wasn’t self-indulgent, because many of these personal journeys are (Eat Pray Love is a perfect example).

  2. It sounds wonderful! I think you were insightful to point out that it wasn’t self-indulgent, because many of these personal journeys are (Eat Pray Love is a perfect example).

  3. Having recently read Little Princes by Grennan, Nepal is an appealing topic and this book sounds very good. Thank you for the review

  4. Having recently read Little Princes by Grennan, Nepal is an appealing topic and this book sounds very good. Thank you for the review

  5. Wow. This sounds like something I would love. The combination of outward and inward reflection plus the excellent writing and beautiful setting ….

  6. Wow. This sounds like something I would love. The combination of outward and inward reflection plus the excellent writing and beautiful setting ….

  7. I also have been reading a bit about Nepal and think that this book sounds like an excellent choice. I love the cover as well. Thanks for the great review! I am glad that you enjoyed it so much!

  8. I also have been reading a bit about Nepal and think that this book sounds like an excellent choice. I love the cover as well. Thanks for the great review! I am glad that you enjoyed it so much!

  9. Sounds a lovely memoir. Thanks for the post.

  10. Sounds a lovely memoir. Thanks for the post.

  11. This sounds good. Thanks for the review!

  12. This sounds good. Thanks for the review!

  13. This sounds like it’s well written, but I have a feeling this isn’t the right time for me to read it.

  14. This sounds like it’s well written, but I have a feeling this isn’t the right time for me to read it.

  15. This sounds like the type of book I really enjoy – travelogue with some self-discovery!

  16. This sounds like the type of book I really enjoy – travelogue with some self-discovery!

  17. I have read many of Thubron’s books but not this one. I will read it for sure after reading this review, and this time I’ll do it English. I live in Italy and so I read Thubron in Italian but it never really struck me for his prose, I have to check the original out (I should always read books in English in their original language).

Leave a Reply

Comment Policy:  I welcome comments and read each one I receive. If your comment needs a response, I will provide it in a timely manner, as I read every comment I receive. Please keep your comments civil and polite! I reserve the right to delete any comments that are rude or inappropriate. Because of spam, I have to moderate comments on old posts. Please be patient - I will approve your comment quickly.

Before the tag in the Genesis footer: !-- Quantcast Tag -->