Do you ever wonder what the hype is about when a destination seems to be a popular hotspot? That’s how I felt about Bali. It seemed everyone was hyping it up and even though I wanted to visit, I secretly didn’t think it would live up to the expectation.
Then last year I had a chance to find out for myself when a friend invited me to visit her in Canggu. I went with an open mind expecting to like it but like everyone else, I fell in love with the island. There’s something about Bali that makes me feel at home. It quickly became my happy place in Asia.
Read Also: Best Cafes and Restaurants in Canggu
I now love returning to Bali and want to try and visit once a year. But that does mean that when I’m not there I’m dreaming of returning. Luckily for me I can get my Bali fix at home with these great books set in Bali.
- 1 25 Incredible Books Set in Bali
- 1.1 Snowing In Bali
- 1.2 The Sea Sisters
- 1.3 Yoga Bitch
- 1.4 Love and Death in Bali
- 1.5 The Painted Alphabet
- 1.6 The Paradise Guest House
- 1.7 Bali Daze
- 1.8 Eat, Pray, Love
- 1.9 Hotel K
- 1.10 Balilicious
- 1.11 Fragrant Rice
- 1.12 A Bali Conspiracy Most Foul
- 1.13 A Little Bit One O’Clock
- 1.14 A Patch of Paradise
- 1.15 Living in Bali
- 1.16 Tales of a Female Nomad
- 1.17 Bali: A Paradise Created
- 1.18 All The Lives We Never Lived
- 1.19 Troppo
- 1.20 Island of Demons
- 1.21 A House in Bali
- 1.22 Under The Volcano
- 1.23 Through My Eyes
- 1.24 Island Secrets
- 1.25 At Home in Bali
- 2 Travel Books
25 Incredible Books Set in Bali
Snowing In Bali
By Kathryn Bonella
‘It’s snowing in Bali’ is code that the Asian paradise is full of cocaine. For the ones running the drug empires it meant it was time to get rich and party hard. Snowing in Bali is about the stories of Bali’s drug trafficking and dealing scene from the biggest players in Bali’s drug world. Kathryn Bonella was given extraordinary access into their lives, getting stories of drug-fuelled fantasy lives filled with outrageous extravagance, orgies and surfing. From the highs of multi-million deals to the lows of death row, Kathryn has been given uncensored insight into the hidden world of Bali’s drug scene.
The Sea Sisters
By Lucy Clarke
The Sea Sisters is an incredible story of two sisters on one life changing adventure. Katie’s carefully structured world has been turned upside down with the news that her headstrong younger sister, Mia, has been found dead in Bali of a suspected suicide. Using the entries of Mia’s travel journey as a guide, Katie retraces the last few months of her sister’s life trying to uncover the mystery surrounding her death. But will her search for truth push their sisterly bond to breaking point?
By Suzanne Morrison
Coffee drinking, cigarette smoking, steak eating, 25 year old Suzanne decides it’s time to get in touch with her spiritual side so plans a trip to Bali for a two month yoga retreat. However things don’t go quite as Suzanne expected when she discovers her beloved yoga teacher and yogamates wake up and drink a mug of their own urine! Yoga Bitch follows the hilarious adventures and misadventures as Suzanne tries to transform into a calm and wise yoga instructor.
Love and Death in Bali
By Vicky Baum
Set during the 1906 Dutch intervention in Bali, Love and Death in Bali uses the living memories of ordinary people to tell the story of passionate and deeply spiritual people who defy the Dutch imperial forces. In the battle of Badung, the Balinese people clothed in white ceremonial garb charged into the guns of the Dutch prepared to die.
The Painted Alphabet
By Diana Darling
Magic, depravity, spiritual ambition, sensuality, and love — The Painted Alphabet binds mythic and modern time together in a rich, slyly suggestive novel based on an old Balinese poem. In a fresh and startling picture of Bali — where witches coexist with tourists and talking animals — the novel explores a kaleidoscope of vanity, desire, and the longing for goodness.
The Paradise Guest House
By Ellen Sussman
What started as a trip to paradise on an assignment soon turned into a nightmare for Jamie. As an adventure guide she was looking forward to spending weeks exploring Bali’s lush jungles and pristine white beaches. However, three days in everything changes when Jamie is caught in Bali’s infamous nightclub bombings and she’s forced to leave with many unanswered questions. One year later Jamie returned to Bali seeking closure and the man that saved her from the attacks.
By Cat Wheeler
Beyond beaches and backpackers, spas and five star resorts is a Bali seldom revealed to the casual visitor. Bali Daze tips the reader off the tourist trail as long-term resident Cat Wheeler hurtles into the fascinating, complex and often bewildering adventure of putting down roots in Ubud.
Eat, Pray, Love
By Elizabeth Gilbert
Made popular by the film, Eat, Pray, Love is a great story of one woman’s search for happiness. After a bitter divorce, Elizabeth realises it is time to pursue her own journey in search of what she believes is missing; pleasure, devotion and balance. She travels to Rome and India and then Bali. Here a toothless medicine man offers her a new path to peace and slowly happiness begins to creep up on her.
By Kathryn Bonella
Hotel Kerobokan, also known as Hotel K, is Bali’s most notorious jail. Surrounded by paradise, inside is the dark and frightening underworld of sex, drugs, violence and squalor. It’s the kind of place where hardened drug traffickers share cells with unlucky tourists who have their holiday turn to hell over one ecstasy pill. Hotel K shares the shocking inside story from inmates revealing about everything from wild sex nights organised by corrupt prison guards, killings made to look like suicides and days out to the beach.
By Becky Wicks
This hilarious book follows the life of Becky Wicks as she navigates life as an adopted Balinese local while she tried to ‘find herself’. However, Becky soon discovered that six months travelling around Bali wasn’t all about finding inner peace. Life in Bali was a blur of locals, tourists and expats.
By Janet de Neefe
Janet de Neefe arrived in Bali back in 1974 and instantly felt a connection to the paradise island. After falling in love with a Balinese man, she decided to make a new life there and now has four children and two successful restaurants. Fragrant Rice is the delightful memoir where Janet shares her entertaining stories as she adapts to another culture’s way of life. Plus Janet also shares delicious recipes handed down through generations of her husband’s family.
A Bali Conspiracy Most Foul
By Shamini Flint
Inspector Singh is still recovering from his last case when terrorists set off a bomb in Bali. After a skull fragment is found of a man killed before the bomb went off, Inspector Singh is assigned to the case. What starts out as a simple murder soon becomes more complicated than Singh could have imagined. And the biggest question is how does it all tie in to an act of terrorism?
A Little Bit One O’Clock
By William Ingram
In this heartwarming book William Ingram shares intimate memories of living with a Balinese family. With wit and admiration he shares an insight into family life in Bali. The relationships between family members, the community and their ancestors.
A Patch of Paradise
By Gaia Grant
Like many women, Gaia Grant has a desire to leave a stressful city life behind. Determined to make it more than just a dream, she packs up her family and travels through Asia with a backpack and a toddler before reaching Bali. With humour and sensitivity, A Patch of Paradise describes how Gaia and her husband embark on the challenge of setting up a new life in a thatched beach hut in a Balinese village.
Living in Bali
By Retro Guntli
With gorgeous tropical scenery, majestic mountains, beautiful coastlines, lush green landscapes and charming people, it’s no wonder Bali is loved by so many. Living in Bali is full of incredible photographs of Bali that will have you feeling like you’ve been transported there. Great for those who miss the island or just want some inspiration to finally visit.
Tales of a Female Nomad
By Rita Gelman
While not solely about Bali, it is still mentioned in this inspirational book and worth including in this list. On the verge of a divorce at the age of forty-eight Rita Gelman left her elegant life in LA and sold her possessions in order to follow her dream. Living as a nomad she travels around the world having incredible adventures along the way.
Bali: A Paradise Created
By Adrian Vickers
A fascinating account of how Bali, an ever growing popular destination, has managed to preserve its identity amongst hoards of foreign visitors arriving seeking paradise. Bali: A Paradise Created is a good book for filling in the gap between scholarly works and popular travel accounts.
All The Lives We Never Lived
By Anurdaha Roy
An enlightening story of a childhood from a child known as ‘the boy whose mother had run off with an Englishman’. Anuradha tells the story that led him to leave behind his familiar environment as his mother traded India for Dutch-held Bali in the 1930s.
By Madelaine Dickie
Set in November 2004, after the Bali and Denpasar bombings but just before the Boxing Day tsunami. Penny had escaped her life in Perth to go to East Java to reconnect with her teenage years of drinking and partying. She enjoys flirting with Matt, an Aussie expat the locals are keen to get rid of. Penny is unsuspectingly pulled into a sinister world where two very different cultures collide.
Island of Demons
By Nigel Barley
Like a lot of men, Walter Spies dreamed of running away to a tropical island. Unlike the others though he actually did it. In the 1920s and 30s Walter transformed the perception of Bali from that of a remote island to become a site for Western fantasies. Island of Demons is a fascinating historical novel mixing history with humour.
A House in Bali
By Colin McPhee
As a young American composer, Colin McPhee accidentally stumbled across some recordings of Balinese gamelan music. Changed by what he heard, Colin wanted to hear every gamelan in the countryside. After World War II, Colin set off for Bali. A House in Bali details his time there and presents an amusing and sympathetic look at Balinese society. Most importantly of course, the book offers a rare look at the importance of music in Balinese life.
Under The Volcano
By Cameron Forbes
Under the Volcano tells a dramatic story of Bali written by a master storyteller. Travellers come to Bali in search of paradise and yet this small island has seen much bloodshed. From the ritual suicides of the Balinese warriors fighting the Dutch, to the massacres of 1965-66 and the bombings of 2002 and 2005.
Through My Eyes
By Steve Castley
Through My Eyes is a collection of 29 short stories that are guaranteed to have you laughing out loud. A love of Ubud and Bali, Steve has created a diverse collection of amusing observations on Bali.
By Alwin Blum
Beyond the idyllic scenery and five-star resorts are the secret lives of the men and women who flock to the island in search of a new life. Unfortunately though not all of them find the peace they were searching for. Island Secrets is a collection of stories filled with scandal, heartache, conflict and despair.
At Home in Bali
By Made Wijaya
Sometimes one book of incredible photos just isn’t enough. At Home in Bali is filled with hundreds of glorious photographs offering an insiders look at Bali. Included are traditional and modern homes, rice fields, classic village houses, royal palaces, beach houses, courtyard shrines, public temples and so much more.
There you have it, 25 incredible books set in Bali to help inspire your next trip. Which will you read first? Any books not on the list that you love? Let me know in the comments below
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