Books About Myanmar


Because we sell secondhand books our stock changes constantly. We can’t guarantee we will have all of these books in stock, but these are a few of the more interesting books about Myanmar and Burma that you might find in Chinlone Books:


Jan-Philipp Sendker – The Art of Hearing Heartbeats

This novel is set right here in Shan State, in the town of Kalaw (about a 90-minute drive from Nyaungshwe). It is both a love story and a mystery of sorts, revolving around the romance between a young student who has lost his eyesight and a handicapped village girl. This is one of those totally captivating and memorable books that you will want to recommend to your book-reading friends.


Daniel Mason – The Piano Tuner

Set in the late 1880s, this novel introduces us to a London piano tuner who has just received a most unusual request from the War Department: he must leave his family and quiet life in London to travel to the remote jungles of Burma where he is assigned to tune a rare grand piano belonging to an eccentric British officer. The Major has achieved success at making peace in war-torn Shan State, but his unorthodox methods are starting to attract suspicion. A brilliant novel, the very first one that Mason wrote.


Thant Myint-U – The River of Lost Footsteps

The author, the grandson of the former UN Secretary-General U Thant, describes the colorful, and often turbulent, history of the country, from ancient times to the present. Subtitled “A Personal History of Burma,” the book also focuses on his family’s efforts to understand the complexities of their native country, all while striving to creative a democracy.


Emma Larkin – Finding George Orwell in Burma

The author studied the Burmese language and has spent considerable time in Myanmar in the past two decades. Described as “a political travelogue” this book describes a year that the author spent travelling around the country, “using the life and work of George Orwell as her compass.” More than a look at politics and repression in the country, this book vividly shows us the spirit and determination of the Burmese people.


Amitav Ghosh – The Glass Palace

This popular historical novel begins in Mandalay in the late 1800s, during the last days of the reign of King Thibaw. Described as “a masterful novel of love, war, and family,” The Glass Palace takes the reader from old Burma to Malaya and finally India, and across three generations.


George Orwell – Burmese Days

Orwell’s famous novel is indeed set in Burma, in the small Northern town of Kyauktada. The story focuses on British expat residents and their relationship with local Burmese characters during the 1930s. Orwell, in fact, spent several years working in Burma around this same time. Always a perceptive writer, Orwell spins a very engaging and sometimes disturbing story that you won’t soon forget. 

Andrew Marshall – The Trouser People

This book, subtitled “A Story of Burma in the Shadow of the Empire,” is both a travelogue and history of Burma in the late 1800s when the legendary Sir George Scott (the famous market in Yangon was named after him) was an administrator in the country. It’s claimed that Scott was the one who introduced the sport of football (soccer) to the country. Marshall follows in Scott’s footsteps into the wilds of Wa State, where he finds the former headhunting tribe are now actively involved in the drug trade.


Shway Yoe – The Burman: His Life and Notions

Shway Yoe was the pseudonym of the aforementioned Sir George Scott. After spending more than thirty years in the country, he wrote this sprawling (over 600 pages) and very entertaining guide to the country and all of its customs, Buddhist rituals, and festivals. Although written over one-hundred years ago, the book is remarkably still spot-on in regards to all things Burmese. A “must” read!


Most of the books we sell at Chinlone Books are secondhand titles, but we also carry some new titles from Things Asian Press that focus on Myanmar:


To Myanmar With Love

As part of Things Asian Press’s “To Asia With Love” series, this volume devoted to Myanmar focuses on many aspects of travel within the country. Much more than a guidebook, this book features essays from writers who either live in the country or have extensive travel experiences there, offering advice on travel, shopping, eating, meeting local people, Myanmar culture, books about Myanmar, plus volunteer and charity options in the country,


Ma Thanegi – Defiled on the Ayeyarwaddy

The veteran Burmese writer decides to satisfy a life-long dream and makes an adventurous journey down the entire length of the country’s famous Ayeywarwaddy (Irawaddy) River. In addition to describing life on the river, Ma Thanegi takes the reader on visits to riverside towns, markets, and festivals. This is both an informative and humorous travelogue, and also a very perceptive look at Myanmar society.


Ma Thanegi – Nor Iron Bars a Cage

This memoir details the three years that Ma Thanegi spent in Yangon’s infamous Insein Prison. Rather than a depressing account filled with horrific tales of torture and cruelty, Ma Thanegi shows “the other side” of life among the female prisoners in the jail, a close-knit community of women from all walks of Burmese life who dealt with their plight with resilience and humor.


Ma Thanegi – Ginger Salad and Water Wafers: Recipes From Myanmar

When it comes to Burmese food, there are few writers as knowledgeable as Ma Thanegi. This reissue of her original cookbook also includes color photographs by Tiffany Wan. When most people think of Burmese food, or Myanmar cuisine, images of oily curries and greasy fried rice spring to mind. But dig below that infamous layer of oil and you’ll find that there is a wide range of delicious food to be found in Myanmar, ranging from spicy noodle dishes to savory soups and unique salads.


Elizabeth Rush & Khin Maung Myint - M is For Myanmar

This thin hardcover book for children includes text in both English and Burmese, accompanied by colorful illustrations showing various aspects of life and scenery in Myanmar, everything from monasteries and festivals, sights such as Inle Lake and Shwedagon Pagogda, to the use of thanaka paste and wearing a longyi.