Blue Sky Kingdom by Bruce Kirkby
Book of the week: this is the kind I get really excited about, an adventure tale with healthy side doses of brain and heart. After getting busted by his sons (aged 7 and 3) for ignoring them while he scrolled through his phone, Bruce Kirkby and his wife Christine packed two duffel bags with everything their family would need for 6 months and headed off to live in a Buddhist Monastery in the super-remote Zanskar Valley region of the Himalaya.
The journey there included canoes, trains, busses a freighter-ship ride across the pacific, and a ten-day hike into Zanskar through mountain passes 17,000 feet above sea level. That voyage alone is epic enough for an entire book (it was a TV show actually) but the (yak) meat and potatoes of this one lies with life in the monastery, as the Kirkby family finds their groove under the tutelage of Lama Wangyal, a Tarantino-esque character embodying both mysticism and practicality.
By witnessing a link between the philosophy and lifestyle of Buddhism with his own son’s experiences on the autistic spectrum, Kirkby delivers insights on the meaning of family, legacy, and connection in a world where children seem to grow up faster than ever and ancient cultures are being enveloped by the ever-present buzz of progress. Fantastic read, especially for any parent who has dreamed of stepping off the conveyor belt and dragging their own kids out into what’s left of the real world.