Whenever I go somewhere new I like to read about it. Ideally, I would read up on a place before I get there to get a better sense of what I’m getting into, but more often than not I end up reading while am traveling or after I’ve gotten back home and want to make more sense of all I just saw and experienced. This is what happened during my recent trip to Burma. While I had meant to do more research before heading to the country, I ended up reading throughout my trip and continuing to look up books about Burma after my week in the country. Here are a few of what I’ve been reading.
This is probably the first book that comes to people’s minds when thinking about Burma. Burmese Days by George Orwell follows the story of an Englishman living in a settlement in Burma under British colonial rule and draws on Orwell’s own experience and perceptions fro living in India and Burma.
Finding George Orwell in Burma
I read Finding George Orwell in Burma by Emma Larkin while traveling in Burma last month and found it completely fascinating. Larkin is one of the few writers who can weave history, social commentary and a personal storyline together sharing important historical facts with intriguing insight and connections. She follows Orwell’s time in Burma during the age of British colonialism seeking how the places where he was based as a police officer threading in information on Burma’s past, culture, political situations and more current standings highlighting how his three most famous books, Burmese Days, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four, symbolizing Burma’s political history from colonization, to the beginnings of communism, to the current military regime. For a book that could have been dry and difficult to get through, it was interesting and lively while still being full of information important for trying to understand the present-day country.
The River of Lost Footsteps: A Personal History of Burma
This one’s a bit heavier than the others but a must-read if you’re interested in getting to know the country better and understand how its present has evolved from its past. Written by Burmese-American historian, Thant Myint-U, The River of Lost Footsteps tells the story of modern-day Myanmar with anecdotes of his own family’s personal history to
Have you been to Myanmar or read much about the country? What other books about Burma would you recommend?
Hey! I'm Alana and I've spent nearly the past decade living in Chiang Mai, Thailand, working as a writer and photographer. I started Paper Planes as a place to share local insight, special places, and how to travel well through a range of experiences — from hostels to high-end hotels, street meat to multi-course meals.
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I read two of those books when I was on the Thai side of the border. Burmese Days wasn’t that great but it was good to read it because of its fame. Emma Larkin’s book was awesome.
I really loved her book…working on The River of Lost Footsteps now, good info but a lot to get through!
I just came across No Bad News for the King by Emma Larkin. I haven’t read it yet, but it looked like an interesting read about more mordern day Burma.
Thanks for the recommendation, if it’s anything like her other book I’m sure it’s fascinating.
Love this! Saving it for future travels. Reading countries related to where I’m traveling always enhance the experience so much — one of my best book experiences in recent years was reading Graham Greene’s “The Quiet American” in Vietnam. Memorable.
Will check it out – thanks!
6 Comments on Book It: Burma Edition