Luminous Travel & Photography Books

Myanmar - A Luminous-Journey2

Myanmar – A Luminous Journey

Myanmar – A Luminous Journey is a simply gorgeous coffee table book of David Lazar’s best Myanmar photographs. The Nat Geo contributor and multi-major award winner, made these fine art travel images over a six year period with multiple extended visits, including while leading Luminous Journeys photo tours! To order the book you can go directly to Lazar’s website.


In a Rocket Made of Ice

First time author Gail Gutradt’s moving, inspirational and often humorous account of working as a volunteer with AIDS affected children in Cambodia.

Gail was a dear friend of Luminous Journeys and of Wat Opot – Partners in Compassion, one of our Luminous Giving charities, on which the book is based. The limited first edition publication of In a Rocket Made of Ice has been released by Heian-kyo Media. Net proceeds from the limited edition all go to the children of Wat Opot. The Alfred A. Knopf / Random House edition is now available in bookstores everywhere, and here at Amazon.

Gail succumbed to bone cancer in 2016. After the kids of Wat Opot, finishing this book and getting it published against all odds before she passed away was her greatest passion. And by God she did it! Gail was/is a beautiful soul who left her body with absolute grace and deep equanimity. She is greatly missed.

An extraordinary book about an extraordinary place…” — Amy Scribner, BookPage

A beautiful book. Read it, and act on the heart-lifting vision of a universal humanity it brings so movingly home to us.” – Pico Iyer, Author

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Labor of Love – A Mother’s Journey, Nguyen Vu Phuoc

An astounding work of beautiful images from Luminous Journeys photographer – and one of Vietnam’s greatest all around shooters – Nguyen Vu Phuoc.

Labor of Love documents a mother’s journey that begins with pregnancy, progresses to birth, and finishes in the afterglow in the days following birth. Phuoc’s own wife and baby daughter are part of the narrative. That’s her on the cover!

Visit Phuoc’s website to order a copy, or better yet, join LJ’s next Vietnam photo tour!

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Bangkok based Andrew Marshall’s ambitious crisscrossing of contemporary Burma, which to western eyes reveals a way of life that can at times be exotically unfathomable. The Trouser People is less analysis than witty, candid Myanmar travel reportage, highlighted by adventures into the remote territory of some of the country’s most intriguing ethnic minorities. A fantastic read.

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A History of Modern Burma, Michael Charney, 2009

“ An excellent work that deals with the period from the annexation of Upper Burma by the British in 1886 until the devastation of Cyclone Nargis in 2008. The focus is on the period from the 1930s, as self-government was gained in 1937. Charney, Senior Lecturer in the Department of History at SOAS, is well-qualified to write this work and he offers a careful account, one that is particularly nuanced in its coverage of the civil conflict and totalitarianism of recent years. What would be welcome is a similar work by Charney on Burmese history as a whole.” – The Historian

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Where China Meets India: Burma and the New Crossroads of Asia, Thant Mynt U, 2011

From their very beginnings China and India have been walled off from each other: by the towering summits of the Himalayas, by a vast and impenetrable jungle, and by hostile tribes and remote inland kingdoms stretching a thousand miles from Calcutta across Burma to the upper Yangtze River.

Soon this last great frontier will vanish—the forests cut down, dirt roads replaced by superhighways, insurgencies crushed—leaving China and India exposed to each other as never before. This basic shift in geography—as sudden and profound as the opening of the Suez Canal—will lead to unprecedented connections among the three billion people of Southeast Asia and the Far East.

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The Lost River of Footsteps: A Personal History of Burma, Thant Mynt U, 2008

An excellent and very accessible ‘personal history’ of Myanmar from past glories to the present, engagingly told. An excellent understanding of the country that will be of interest to anyone considering Myanmar travel.

Burmese Days, George Orwell, 1934

Burmese Days, George Orwell, 1934

Certainly one of the most famous me to travel Myanmar, Orwell’s first novel is a must read classic. It takes place in the waning years of British rule over Burma, where the author himself was a police officer for five years. A tale form the dark-side of “corruption and imperial bigotry”.

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The Piano Tuner, Daniel Mason, 2003

Another great first novel set in Burma, the basis for a 2004 opera of the same name, also made into a 2013 film by director Werner Herzog. The story is about a helluva lot more than a man sent into the jungles of 1886 Burma (the very year the British officially changed the name from Myanmar) to tune a piano. The artful writing writhes in intrigue.

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From the Land of Green Ghosts: A Burmese Odyssey, Pascal Thwe

Growing up as a Padaung Hill Tribe minority to become a rebel and then a Cambridge-educated writer, Pascal offers a moving account of his experiences. The many mysteries of Myanmar travel can be understood through the eyes of a man who understands through both Myanmar and Western eyes.

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Vietnam: Rising Dragon, Bill Hayton

BBC journalist Hayton’s readable and informative book is a laudable contribution to understanding contemporary Vietnam . After reporting from Vietnam, he’s able to peel back the layers to reveal the political, economic and social forces at work in the country during “a breathtaking period of social change”.

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Sacred Willow; Four Generations in the Life of a Vietnamese Family, Duong Van Mai

An extraordinary narrative woven from the lives of four generations of her family, illuminates fascinating–and until now unexplored–strands of Vietnamese history.

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Catfish and Mandala, Andrew Pham

Catfish and Mandala is the story of an American odyssey?a solo bicycle voyage around the Pacific Rim to Vietnam made by a young Vietnamese-American man in pursuit of both his adopted homeland and his forsaken fatherland. A vibrant, picaresque memoir written with narrative flair and an eye-opening sense of adventure, Catfish and Mandala is an unforgettable search for cultural identity.

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Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table: Recipes and Reminiscences from Vietnam’s Best Market Kitchens, Street Cafes, and Home Cooks, Mai Pham

A land of vibrant cultures and vivid contrasts, Vietnam is also home to some of the most delicious and intriguing food in the world. While its cooking traditions have been influenced by those of China, France, and even India, Vietnam has created a cuisine with a spirit and a flavor all its own.

Chef and restaurateur Mai Pham brings to life this diverse and exciting cooking in Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table. Born and raised in Saigon before emigrating to the United States, Mai has often returned to her native land to learn the secrets of authentic Vietnamese cooking from region to region. Green Mango Salad with Grilled Beef, Stir-Fried Chicken with Lemongrass and Chilies, Caramelized Garlic Shrimp, and especially pho, the country’s beloved beef-and-noodle soup. Filled with enchanting stories and stirring black-and-white photos of life in Vietnam, Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table provides a captivating taste of an enduring culture and its irresistible cuisine.

McCurry-India Photo Book

INDIA - Steve McCurry

Magnum’s Steve McCurry presents an amazing book of India photographs made. India documents the raw and exciting moments he encountered throughout the subcontinent over a 30 year period and 85 separate trips. While some of the shots are famous worldwide, McCurry’s emotive portfolio contains many images never before released to the public.


Henri Cartier Bresson - In India

Henri Cartier-Bresson’s record of his fascination with India over half a lifetime contains the very best of his photographs of that country, produced during six extended visits, the first at the time of Independence, the most recent a few years ago. Its images are shaped by an eye and a mind legendary for their empathy and for going to the heart of the matter.

Cartier-Bresson’s talent, his famous mantle of invisibility and his good connections with such figures as Nehru allowed him to capture the quintessence of India – a land renowned for its contradictions and variety. His pictures of Hindus in refugee camps after the Partition or beggars in Calcutta speak with the same passion and authority as those of the Maharaja of Baroda’s sumptuous birthday celebrations or of the Mountbattens on the steps of Government House. Considerable space is given to his famous reportages, such as the astonishing sequence on the death and cremation of Gandhi.

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THE GANGES - Raghubir Singh

Raghubir Singh (1942–1999) was an Indian photographer, most known for his landscapes and documentary-style photographs of the people of India. He was a self-taught photographer who worked in India and lived in Paris, London and New York. During his career he worked with National Geographic Magazine, The New York Times, The New Yorker and Time. In the early 1970s, he was one of the first photographers to reinvent the use of color at a time when color photography was still a marginal art form.

India is not simply a place; it is an experience. And the Ganges is not just a river: it is an aspect of the Divine. This is Raghubir Singh’s personal pilgrimage along the Ganges: from the Himalayas, where the river rises among snows, through the villages of the Gangetic Plain, past Varanasi and through Bihar, to the Bay of Bengal, between India and Bangladesh. On the way he captures the essence of the river’s many different stages and moods, its strange and stunning beauty, its turbulence and ferocity during the monsoon, and the intimate daily lives of the people who live along it.


The White Tiger

The White Tiger is the debut novel by Indian writer Aravind Adiga. It was first published in 2008 and won the 40th Man Booker Prize in the same year. The novel provides a dark but very funny perspective of India’s class struggle in a globalized world as told through a retrospective narration from Balram Halwai, a dirt poor village boy with an inexplicable hyper-fear of iguanas. Even dead iguanas. Especially dead iguanas.

From serving as chauffeur to a rich landlord, he escapes to Bangalore after the landlord is murdered, where he becomes an entrepreneur. The novel, while evoking a nearly constant stream of smiles and/or LOL’s from the reader, examines issues of religion, caste, loyalty, corruption and poverty in wild and wooly India.


A Passage to India

A Passage to India (1924) is a novel by English author E. M. Forster set against the backdrop of the British Raj and the Indian independence movement in the 1920s. It was selected as one of the 100 great works of 20th century English literature by the Modern Library and won the 1924 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction.

Time magazine included the novel in its “All Time 100 Novels” list.[3] The novel is based on Forster’s experiences in India, deriving the title from Walt Whitman’s 1870 poem “Passage to India”, in Leaves of Grass.


City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi, by William Dalrymple

When it comes to Indian travelogues, Dalrymple is king. City of Djinns is the first account of the British writer’s love affair with Delhi, where he has lived on and off for 25 years. Written more like a novel, the book follows various figures including his Sikh landlady, British survivors of the Raj and eunuch dancers. Dalrymple’s Mughal series also come recommended.


Nine Lives, by William Dalrymple

This fascinating non-fiction book tells the stories of nine Indians following different religions. Acclaimed historian Dalrymple met them all to write this absorbing account, which begins with a Jain nun who decides to fast to death after her friend and fellow nun passes away.


The Last Mughal, by William Dalrymple

Geoffrey Moorhouse of The Guardian wrote: “Dalrymple has here written an account of the Indian mutiny such as we have never had before, of the events leading up to it and of its aftermath, seen through the prism of the last emperor’s life.

He has vividly described the street life of the Mughal capital in the days before the catastrophe happened, he has put his finger deftly on every crucial point in the story, which earlier historians have sometimes missed, and he has supplied some of the most informative footnotes I have ever read.


A House for Mr Biswas, by V. S. Naipaul

This 1961 novel by V. S. Naipaul was his first work to achieve worldwide acclaim. It is the story of Mohun Biswas, an Indo-Trinidadian who continually strives for success and mostly fails, who marries into the Tulsi family only to find himself dominated by it, and who finally sets the goal of owning his own house. Drawing some elements from the life of Naipaul’s father, the work is primarily a sharply drawn look at life that uses post-colonial perspectives to view a vanished colonial world. It is generally regarded as one of the Top 100 novels of the 20th century.


The Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri

“Interpreter of Maladies” established this young writer as one the most brilliant of her generation. In The Namesake, Lahiri enriches the themes that made her earlier short story collections so brilliant – the immigrant experience, the clash of cultures, the conflicts of assimilation, and most poignantly, the tangled ties between generations. Here again Lahiri displays her deft touch for the perfect detail — the fleeting moment, the turn of phrase — that opens whole worlds of emotion. The Namesake takes the Ganguli family from their tradition-bound life in Calcutta through their fraught transformation into Americans.


The Mountain Shadow, by Gregory David Roberts

The Mountain Shadow is the hotly anticipated follow-up to Roberts’s publishing sensation Shantaram. The page-turning thriller, inspired by the writer’s own experiences living in the Mumbai slums, is one of the few books that manages to capture the overwhelmingly multi-sensory experience of living in India.

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India After Gandhi: The History of the World’s Largest Democracy, by Ramachandra Guha

An insightful look at modern day India, this historical book gives a lucid account of how the largest democracy in the world continues to thrive. Guha’s take on Indian politics post-independence was named book of the year by The Economist and The Wall Street Journal in 2007. Updated in 2017.


Behind The Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity, by Katherine Boo

Written by a white American during her time living in Mumbai, this non-fiction book centers on one of the city’s biggest slums, following everyone from a young litter picker to a female “slumlord” and a university student. The book was adapted into a play by David Hare in 2014.


Q&A, by Vikas Swarup

The novel that spawned the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire tells the story of a young waiter who becomes the biggest quiz show winner in history, only to be sent to prison after being accused of cheating. Written by an Indian diplomat, the novel was nominated for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.