Everyone prepares differently for a holiday but reading can be a way to explore a country’s past, present and future before you arrive. You become more aware of the separate elements that have helped to created the country you wish to experience. Here are a few of my most recent additions to the EL Reading List – ‘Books About Mongolia.’
This is a good introduction to Genghis Khan’s life and his influences. The Mongol Empire is similar in its focus. Also, for an in-depth introduction on the Gobi, I highly recommend John Man’s Tracking the Gobi. If you like his style of writing, he has written about the life of Kubilai Khan as well.
‘Compared to the difficulty of daily life for the herders, living permanently in those areas, ours were only the smallest of irritations.’
The history of Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire and its impact. It will challenge your preconceptions and give you a fresh perspective on the 12th century onwards. Jack Weatherford has also written the excellent Mongol Queens.
An excellent introduction to the Mongol Empire – providing an overview of the government, religion and politics of the Mongolian Empire. Much more readable than it sounds!
Expeditions / Travel
In 2012, Rob Lilwall and Leon McCarron walked over 5,000 km from the Gobi Desert down into China – following the Great Wall, trekking through the mountains of central China and finishing in Hong Kong.
The true story of an expedition to northern Mongolia with the author taking his autistic son to meet the shamans – a remarkable journey.
At the age of 63, Helen Thayer fulfilled her lifelong dream of crossing Mongolia’s Gobi Desert. Accompanied by her 74-year-old husband Bill and two camels, Tom and Jerry, Thayer walked 1600 miles. This is the ultimate vicarious adventure!
This travelogue describes the year the author spent living in Tsengel, a Kazakh village in western Mongolia. The descriptions of the stark landscapes and local stories make this an honest account of time spent in Mongolia’s westernmost town.
Inspired by a desire to understand the nomadic way of life, Australian adventurer Tim Cope embarked on a remarkable journey: 6,000 miles on horseback across the Eurasian steppe from Mongolia, through Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine, to Hungary retracing the trail of Genghis Khan.
Having had his horses stolen one night close to the start of his trip, the following day Cope spotted a herd of horses moving swiftly with a single horseman in charge. On approach, Cope recognised his two horses among the pack. I particularly like the next bit:
‘These two horses came to me this morning,” the horseman said grinning. “You must have tied them badly.’
The horseman returned the horses without compensation, but insisted that Cope understand an important unwritten rule of the steppe:
‘A man on the steppe with no friends is as narrow as a finger,” the horseman said. “A man with friends is as wide as the steppe.’
A perfect read for if you’re considering visiting western Mongolia as it gives a good account of the life of the Kazakh eagle hunters as he spends time living among them and their birds, learning their traditions.
‘Each time I return I see constant changes alongside the things that never change. I love its paradoxes, its space and hospitality, its freedom and ancient customs. Its is a place of great roadless areas, all known and inhabited since prehistory. It is wild enough for great horned sheep; wolves, snow leopards and the last undomesticated camels; with the lowest human population density on the earth. It is the home of Buddhist hunters and Muslims who toast their guests with vodka. I can’t get enough of it, and probably never will.’
Five books in the historical fiction series of this, charting Mongolian life and the rise of the Mongol Empire under Genghis, Ogodei and Kubilai Khan.
Take yourself off to the wild steppes of Inner Mongolia during China’s Cultural Revolution in this part fiction/part biography.
Uuganaa is a Mongol living in Britain but she grew up as part of a nomadic herding family in Mongolia. This is a powerful memoir about when her new-born son Billy is diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome. It skillfully interweaves the extraordinary story of her own childhood in Mongolia with the sadly short life of Billy.
Are there any books about Mongolia you would suggest we add to the list? If you enjoyed our suggested reading list on the books about Mongolia and want to explore more on Mongolia why not look at our informal blog posts Top Facts About Mongolia or Questions About Mongolia.
Jess @ Eternal Landscapes