There’s something about traveling that provokes the urge to write. Some of the best books I’ve read have been travel memoirs or novels that take place in foreign places. There is something equally inspiring about reading these books as you’re about to go to a specific destination. Books and movies have the impressive ability to transport us to the places they describe, often inspiring the urge to travel there ourselves.
Myanmar, formerly called Burma, is one of those unique places that has inspired both writers and readers alike. From George Orwell to activist Aung San Suu Kyi, many authors have found their voice in this Southeast Asian nation.
As someone who enjoys reading books about a destination before I start planning a trip (or when I am missing a place), I decided to compile this list of the best books on Burma/ Myanmar. If you’re looking for travel inspiration, look no further! Here’s a list of some of the best books to make you start packing your bags for Myanmar.
On a side note, if you’re looking for tips on planning a trip to Myanmar, you can check out our Myanmar travel tips page or go to Flymya to get information on various trips and tours available in the country.
- The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh
- Burmese Days by George Orwell
- Golden Earth: Travels in Burma by Norman Lewis
- From the Land of Green Ghosts by Pascal Khoo Thwe
- Bones Will Crow: 15 Contemporary Burmese Poets
- Burma Chronicles by Guy Delisle
- The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason
- Saving Fish from Drowning by Amy Tan
- The Road to Wanting by Wendy Law-Yone
The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh
Throughout the boy’s life, as he progresses from poor immigrant to wealthy businessman, the struggles and history of Burma and the surrounding countries are engaged, creating a tale that is as riveting as it is informative. If you’re interested in finding about the history of Myanmar through the eyes of an immigrant, this novel is perfect for you.
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Burmese Days by George Orwell
Throughout his character’s adventures, Orwell describes the corruption and bigotry that was present in British Colonialism and is helpful in understanding the country’s development.
Golden Earth: Travels in Burma by Norman Lewis
His journey was a unique one, persevering through unwelcome conditions, failing transportation, and unexpected circumstances to see the full extent of the country. In the end, it is a love story to the country in which he saw so much beauty and charm.
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From the Land of Green Ghosts by Pascal Khoo Thwe
When his home tumbles into chaos, he reaches out to the professor and ultimately ends up as the first Burmese tribesman to attend Cambridge University. His story is one of inspiration, strength, and overwhelming courage. This book is a fantastic read and is definitely very inspiring!
Bones Will Crow: 15 Contemporary Burmese Poets
The first anthology of Burmese poetry published in the US, it contains works from a wide range of Burmese poets. Their work is moving and evocative, giving the reader a previously unexplored look into what it means to be Burmese. Regardless if poetry is your thing or not, this is collection of poems is an enjoyable read.
Burma Chronicles by Guy Delisle
The book is a relatable tale of a young Canadian family trying to find their way in a very foreign environment and is illustrated beautifully.
The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason
The tale follows Drake’s adventures as he sets out into an entirely new world full of intrigue and excitement in a foreign land.
Saving Fish from Drowning by Amy Tan
The book is a heartwarming story of perseverance, humanity, and optimism. I found it to be an interesting read despite the various characters.
The Road to Wanting by Wendy Law-Yone
Her tale unfolds in a tumultuous series of events, proving that a tough spirit can get through anything.
With so many books about or inspired by this beautiful country, you’ll find yourself wanting to plan a trip in no time. But one word of advice–remember as you read, that present-day Myanmar is a far cry from the place many of these authors described in their novels.
You can glean inspiration about the allure of Southeast Asia through these books, but you’ll want to make your own mind up about what the country is like today. It’s certainly much more amenable to tourists these days! Myanmar has long struggled with conflict within its borders, but today it is an ever-increasing tourist destination. Hopefully, after reading more about it you’ll be inspired to take a trip!
Looking for more articles on Myanmar? Take a look at a few of our best ones
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