Amber's Reviews > To a Mountain in Tibet

To a Mountain in Tibet by Colin Thubron
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's review
Apr 06, 2011

really liked it
Read from March 17 to 24, 2011

I grabbed To a Mountain in Tibet because I'd love to go to Tibet someday, and duh! It's a book about a guy who goes to Tibet.

But holy cow is it so much more than that. I still conjure up the images I read in it. Beautiful and haunting and enigmatic. The author excels at describing place and people while keeping intact the mystery that surrounds it all. He doesn't hesitate in facing the cultural differences that put him off, and he avoids the unreality that is the legend of Tibet. He doesn't make it out to be some magical, otherworldly place. There's so much more to it than that. He takes part in a pilgrimage that is physically life-threatening, and that he hopes will help him deal with the death of his mother. That's part of what drew me in so much, I think. Journeys undertaken as a way to deal with grief are always so poignant, and much deeper than typical travels. It's very fitting for Tibet.

I have often romanticized Tibet in my head, joining the ranks of millions of Westerners who always have done that. Thubron does a magnificent job exposing that, lifting the veil from a place that can be at times harsh, lovely, confusing, brutal, and that has a violent history.

From prayer flags to sky burial to statues of deities with confusing identities hidden in little nooks, Thubron takes Tibet and expresses his experience there eloquently and without too much personal bias. If anyone is interested in knowing more about that mysterious part of the world, I would suggest this book as a place to start.
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