Category Archives: Travel Books

To a Mountain in Tibet: A Book Review

In a previous post, I wrote about being excited about being invited to join Amazon Vine, a program that provides reviewers with free copies of books in exchange for reviews.  Well, it is almost the end of my first month as a member, and I ordered the maximum four books, and have read and reviewed three of them so far.  One of them was for the book ‘To a Mountain in Tibet’ by Colin Thubron.  It is just as it seems to be–a travel memoir of a journey to Kailas.  As promised, anything travel-related that I review for Amazon will also be posted here.  So, without further ado, I bring you my review…enjoy!

This is not a book about traveling ‘to a mountain in Tibet’.  This is a book about life, and death…and everything in between.

I must admit that on first read, I was not excited by this book.  I deemed it ‘not my kind of memoir’.  And yes, the language is rather flowery.   If you like flowery language, you’ll like this book.  But even if you are like me (and don’t), you’ll still enjoy ‘Mountain’.

I’ve never traveled to this part of the world.  Now I very much would like to do so, but only if I can take someone like Thubron with me.  As you follow him on his journey, you learn about everything from the flora and fauna of the areas he passes through, to the social, political, and spiritual history of the peoples and places explored, to his own relationship with his mother and father.  Even better, all of these aspects are woven together brilliantly.

Oddly, parts of ‘Mountain’ read like high fantasy, no small feat for a work of travel memoir.  I loved the line ‘I have too much imagined these mountains as mine’, and at one point the phrase ‘carved from the living basalt’–in reference to the Kailasa temple at Ellora (itself sounding high fantasty-ish)–drips with fantasy-writer-charm.  Of course, the undertones of high fantasy were not entirely due to the place names, but the place names do help–did Tolkein ever travel to Kailas?

One aspect I did find difficult was the ability to visualize places I cannot even imagine.  Much of Thubron’s work is, obviously, landscape description–but having absolutely no reference point I found it difficult.  Thus, I found myself frequently resorting to Google Image searches.  Was this a negative aspect of the book?  Absolutely not.  I’ve now learned about the geography of a part of the world of which I’d previously been unaware.  The only negative part is how difficult (impossible?) it would be for me to actually visit Tibet myself some day.

If you are even thinking about picking up this book, do it.  You won’t be disappointed.  You will be moved, inspired, awed, sometimes shocked–at one point I actually almost cried–but definitely not disappointed.

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More Proof of Hopeless Nerd Status

I’m excited today because I woke up to a surprise in my inbox–an ‘invitation’ from Amazon to participate in the Amazon Vine program!  It’s not that amazing or exciting to most people, but for hopeless-nerd me, it’s pretty darn cool.

So what is the Amazon Vine program?  It is an invitation-only program that offers reviewers the ability to review books (and other products) for free, and often before they are released to the general public.  You get to select your areas of interest, and then a list is sent two to three times per month with books (and other products) to review.

Of course I selected ‘travel’ as one of my main interest areas.  So you, dear reader, will be linked to any and all travel-related product reviews I may get to write–and anything worth featuring here will be featured here as well.

In other nerd-news, tonight’s full moon is apparently a special kind of moon–a Super Moon–meaning that it is as close to the earth as it can be.  So for those of you out there making travel wishes, tonight might be a good night to wish upon the moon–stars are way too far away.