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Blue Sky Kingdom : An Epic Family Journey to the Heart of the Himalaya

Blue Sky Kingdom: An Epic Family Journey to the Heart of the Himalaya

Bruce Kirkby
$34.95 Regular price

 


One morning at breakfast, while gawking at his phone and feeling increasingly disconnected from family and everything else of importance in his world, it strikes writer Bruce Kirkby: this isn’t how he wants to live.

Within days, plans begin to take shape. Bruce, his wife Christine, and their two children—seven-year-old Bodi and three-year-old Taj—will cross the Pacific by container ship, then travel onward through South Korea, China, India and Nepal aboard bus, riverboat and train, eventually traversing the Himalaya by foot. Their destination: a thousand-year-old Buddhist monastery in the remote Zanskar valley, one of the last places where Tibetan Buddhism is still practised freely in its original setting.

Taken into the mud-brick home of a senior lama, Tsering Wangyal, the family spends the summer absorbed by monastery life. In this refuge, where ancient traditions intersect with the modern world, Bruce discovers ways to slow down, to observe and listen, and ultimately, to better understand his son on the autism spectrum—to surrender all expectations and connect with Bodi exactly as he is.

Recounted with wit and humility, Blue Sky Kingdom is an engaging travel memoir as well as a thoughtful exploration of modern distraction, the loss of ancient wisdom, and the challenges and rewards of intercultural friendships.


Prize(s): Short-listed Banff Mountain Book Prize: Adventure Travel 

 

Blue Sky Kingdom is perfect pandemic reading. Not only does Bruce Kirkby take us far across the world and deep inside a rarely seen culture, but he also allows us an intimate view of his family, all while writing with tender honesty, penetrating insight, and a delightful lack of bravado. And particularly useful when we look up from the page and remember that we haven’t actually left the living room for weeks, he reminds us to breathe, embrace the unfamiliar, and celebrate even the smallest of moments.”

–Jill Fredston, author of Rowing to Latitude and Snowstruck

“Bruce Kirkby’s chronicle of living in a remote Buddhist monastery with his family is by turns hilarious and enchanting. What a beautiful ode to impermanence, to the families we choose and the families we find, and to the complicated wonders of a different, and fast-disappearing, way of life.”

–Kate Harris, author of Lands of Lost Borders: Out of Bounds on the Silk Road

“Family adventure doesn’t begin to describe what transpires in these pages. Kirkby and his remarkable family have built a bridge between the Rockies and the Himalaya, and in so doing spanned the gap between autism and Buddhism. In addition to being a manifestation of deepest love and devotion, this book is a time-bending journey through a landscape and culture that filled me with envy and sorrow by turns, while showing me things I have never seen described in a lifetime of reading. We are lucky to have someone as brave, generous and open as Bruce Kirkby abroad in the world.”

–John Vaillant, author of The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival

“I was blown away by the audaciousness of this epic family voyage, desperately wishing I was there with them. Kirkby’s writing offers a vivid exploration of culture, geography and relationships, but also, more urgently, of how we choose to live—and whether that’s possible to change.”

–Alex Hutchinson, author of Endure: Mind, Body and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance

“Bruce Kirkby has lived the dream of the modern globe-trotting adventurer: crossing Arabian sand seas, sea-kayaking Iceland and Borneo, traversing Northern Mongolia on horseback. In Blue Sky Kingdom, Kirkby’s wife and two young sons join him for a different kind of journey—to an isolated Buddhist monastery, yes, but also to the elusive and fragile heart of wisdom that we all hope to glimpse in this lifetime. What a heartfelt, lovely and kind book this is.”

–Daniel Duane, author of Caught Inside

“Insightful and adventurous, Blue Sky Kingdom offers a road map on how to learn from the world…There is wisdom in this book. Open it and let your imagination soar.”

–Conrad Anker, acclaimed American alpinist

“In an era when countless demands make it increasingly easy to ignore people and engage instead with devices, Blue Sky Kingdom provides a much-needed call back to the physical world.”

–Darcy Gaechter, author of Amazon Woman

“A rollicking journey, full of insights on cultivating a nourishing, fully present life amidst so much noise and distraction.”


–Brad Stulberg, coauthor of Peak Performance and The Passion Paradox

“By any standards, it’s a big adventure to travel the slow way across the world to a remote corner of the Himalaya and live there for months in a spartan Buddhist monastery—but taking young children along ramps it up to another level. Written with zest and clarity, Bruce’s account is compelling, moving, funny and above all honest, sharing hardships and frustrations along with the joys and ultimate rewards.”

–Maria Coffey, author of Where the Mountain Casts Its Shadow

“...a timely, heartwarming story of a family’s search for peace away from the din of modern culture. Soul-refreshing reading for armchair travelers and spiritual questers alike.”

Kirkus Reviews

“A breathtaking journey, both geographical and internal, Kirkby’s blending of travelog of an already fascinatingly remote locale and personal family experience is unique and luminous.”

Library Journal

“In this uplifting travelogue, Kirkby, a Canadian travel journalist and photographer, recounts how he and his family fled the pressures of society to ‘slow down’ in a Himalayan Buddhist temple.... It’s poignant and gently provocative, much like a prayer flag blowing in the wind.”

Publishers Weekly

“Kirkby's relationships with Lama Wangyal, the monastery students and the other people he meets in the valley are touching. But it is the family's interior journey, and Bodi's especially, that displays the curative powers of adventure.”

The New York Times

“Recounted with wit and humility, Blue Sky Kingdom is an engaging memoir, an exploration of autism and an ancient way of living...this is an exceptional work of writing that should be read by anyone with a fascination for either Tibet or meditation.”

–Andrew Armitage, The Sun Times

“Kirkby demonstrates a true talent of being able to capture and distill profound moments of the human experience.”

Nelson Star

“Gazing across a landscape of towering snow-covered Himalayan peaks can make the viewer realize that they are a very small part of this world’s natural wonder. It is this sense of humility and honesty that make adventure travel writer and photographer Bruce Kirkby’s memoir, Blue Sky Kingdom, so enjoyable.”

–Andrea Geary, Winnipeg Free Press

“The travel and adventure and window into Zanskar are amazing, but what really stuck with me (especially as a parent of two young kids) is Kirkby’s attempt to grapple with the big questions about how to live in the modern world.”

–Outside

“A travel memoir with a huge heart and an even bigger understanding of the need for true, cross-culture human connection.”

Calgary Herald

“By far the most daring and unflinching adventure undertaken by an author known for his audacious explorations, Blue Sky Kingdom is the remarkable and readable tale of a family that fled distraction to find connection—both with themselves and the ancient traditions of a disappearing culture.”

Pique Magazine

“[This] family adventure-like-no-other is at times exciting, excruciating, and hilarious. It is also profound and sad, and, of course, ultimately rewarding.”

North Shore News

 


Douglas & McIntyre
ISBN: 9781771622691
Hardback
6.0 in x 9.0 in - 336 pp
Publication Date: 29/08/2020
BISAC Subject(s): TRV011000-TRAVEL / Special Interest / Family,FAM048000-FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS / Autism Spectrum Disorders,BIO026000-BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Personal Memoirs 

Description


One morning at breakfast, while gawking at his phone and feeling increasingly disconnected from family and everything else of importance in his world, it strikes writer Bruce Kirkby: this isn’t how he wants to live.

Within days, plans begin to take shape. Bruce, his wife Christine, and their two children—seven-year-old Bodi and three-year-old Taj—will cross the Pacific by container ship, then travel onward through South Korea, China, India and Nepal aboard bus, riverboat and train, eventually traversing the Himalaya by foot. Their destination: a thousand-year-old Buddhist monastery in the remote Zanskar valley, one of the last places where Tibetan Buddhism is still practised freely in its original setting.

Taken into the mud-brick home of a senior lama, Tsering Wangyal, the family spends the summer absorbed by monastery life. In this refuge, where ancient traditions intersect with the modern world, Bruce discovers ways to slow down, to observe and listen, and ultimately, to better understand his son on the autism spectrum—to surrender all expectations and connect with Bodi exactly as he is.

Recounted with wit and humility, Blue Sky Kingdom is an engaging travel memoir as well as a thoughtful exploration of modern distraction, the loss of ancient wisdom, and the challenges and rewards of intercultural friendships.


Prize(s): Short-listed Banff Mountain Book Prize: Adventure Travel 

 

Blue Sky Kingdom is perfect pandemic reading. Not only does Bruce Kirkby take us far across the world and deep inside a rarely seen culture, but he also allows us an intimate view of his family, all while writing with tender honesty, penetrating insight, and a delightful lack of bravado. And particularly useful when we look up from the page and remember that we haven’t actually left the living room for weeks, he reminds us to breathe, embrace the unfamiliar, and celebrate even the smallest of moments.”

–Jill Fredston, author of Rowing to Latitude and Snowstruck

“Bruce Kirkby’s chronicle of living in a remote Buddhist monastery with his family is by turns hilarious and enchanting. What a beautiful ode to impermanence, to the families we choose and the families we find, and to the complicated wonders of a different, and fast-disappearing, way of life.”

–Kate Harris, author of Lands of Lost Borders: Out of Bounds on the Silk Road

“Family adventure doesn’t begin to describe what transpires in these pages. Kirkby and his remarkable family have built a bridge between the Rockies and the Himalaya, and in so doing spanned the gap between autism and Buddhism. In addition to being a manifestation of deepest love and devotion, this book is a time-bending journey through a landscape and culture that filled me with envy and sorrow by turns, while showing me things I have never seen described in a lifetime of reading. We are lucky to have someone as brave, generous and open as Bruce Kirkby abroad in the world.”

–John Vaillant, author of The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival

“I was blown away by the audaciousness of this epic family voyage, desperately wishing I was there with them. Kirkby’s writing offers a vivid exploration of culture, geography and relationships, but also, more urgently, of how we choose to live—and whether that’s possible to change.”

–Alex Hutchinson, author of Endure: Mind, Body and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance

“Bruce Kirkby has lived the dream of the modern globe-trotting adventurer: crossing Arabian sand seas, sea-kayaking Iceland and Borneo, traversing Northern Mongolia on horseback. In Blue Sky Kingdom, Kirkby’s wife and two young sons join him for a different kind of journey—to an isolated Buddhist monastery, yes, but also to the elusive and fragile heart of wisdom that we all hope to glimpse in this lifetime. What a heartfelt, lovely and kind book this is.”

–Daniel Duane, author of Caught Inside

“Insightful and adventurous, Blue Sky Kingdom offers a road map on how to learn from the world…There is wisdom in this book. Open it and let your imagination soar.”

–Conrad Anker, acclaimed American alpinist

“In an era when countless demands make it increasingly easy to ignore people and engage instead with devices, Blue Sky Kingdom provides a much-needed call back to the physical world.”

–Darcy Gaechter, author of Amazon Woman

“A rollicking journey, full of insights on cultivating a nourishing, fully present life amidst so much noise and distraction.”


–Brad Stulberg, coauthor of Peak Performance and The Passion Paradox

“By any standards, it’s a big adventure to travel the slow way across the world to a remote corner of the Himalaya and live there for months in a spartan Buddhist monastery—but taking young children along ramps it up to another level. Written with zest and clarity, Bruce’s account is compelling, moving, funny and above all honest, sharing hardships and frustrations along with the joys and ultimate rewards.”

–Maria Coffey, author of Where the Mountain Casts Its Shadow

“...a timely, heartwarming story of a family’s search for peace away from the din of modern culture. Soul-refreshing reading for armchair travelers and spiritual questers alike.”

Kirkus Reviews

“A breathtaking journey, both geographical and internal, Kirkby’s blending of travelog of an already fascinatingly remote locale and personal family experience is unique and luminous.”

Library Journal

“In this uplifting travelogue, Kirkby, a Canadian travel journalist and photographer, recounts how he and his family fled the pressures of society to ‘slow down’ in a Himalayan Buddhist temple.... It’s poignant and gently provocative, much like a prayer flag blowing in the wind.”

Publishers Weekly

“Kirkby's relationships with Lama Wangyal, the monastery students and the other people he meets in the valley are touching. But it is the family's interior journey, and Bodi's especially, that displays the curative powers of adventure.”

The New York Times

“Recounted with wit and humility, Blue Sky Kingdom is an engaging memoir, an exploration of autism and an ancient way of living...this is an exceptional work of writing that should be read by anyone with a fascination for either Tibet or meditation.”

–Andrew Armitage, The Sun Times

“Kirkby demonstrates a true talent of being able to capture and distill profound moments of the human experience.”

Nelson Star

“Gazing across a landscape of towering snow-covered Himalayan peaks can make the viewer realize that they are a very small part of this world’s natural wonder. It is this sense of humility and honesty that make adventure travel writer and photographer Bruce Kirkby’s memoir, Blue Sky Kingdom, so enjoyable.”

–Andrea Geary, Winnipeg Free Press

“The travel and adventure and window into Zanskar are amazing, but what really stuck with me (especially as a parent of two young kids) is Kirkby’s attempt to grapple with the big questions about how to live in the modern world.”

–Outside

“A travel memoir with a huge heart and an even bigger understanding of the need for true, cross-culture human connection.”

Calgary Herald

“By far the most daring and unflinching adventure undertaken by an author known for his audacious explorations, Blue Sky Kingdom is the remarkable and readable tale of a family that fled distraction to find connection—both with themselves and the ancient traditions of a disappearing culture.”

Pique Magazine

“[This] family adventure-like-no-other is at times exciting, excruciating, and hilarious. It is also profound and sad, and, of course, ultimately rewarding.”

North Shore News

 

Details


Douglas & McIntyre
ISBN: 9781771622691
Hardback
6.0 in x 9.0 in - 336 pp
Publication Date: 29/08/2020
BISAC Subject(s): TRV011000-TRAVEL / Special Interest / Family,FAM048000-FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS / Autism Spectrum Disorders,BIO026000-BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Personal Memoirs