Books & Newspapers

Reading isn’t much of a pastime in Bali, possibly also due to the fact that books are expensive here. Also, the humid climate is far from book-friendly – books can go mouldy within days if left in an unaired room. For this reason most bookshops sell their goods wrapped in plastic. This can be infuriating if you want to leaf through before making a purchase.

There’s one library in Ubud, the Pondok Pecak Library next to the soccer field, but its collection is limited. Most hotels will also have a used book collection for you to borrow from. There are a couple of book stores in town but by far the best place for books is Ganesha, which stocks new books on bali and a large range of second-hand books. It has a consistently high-quality range of recent titles.

There are plenty of local newspapers for you to look out for, including the Bali Advertiser, the Bali Times, the Gazette (for French speakers) and the daily Bali section of the Indonesian daily broadsheet, the Jakarta Post. Sadly, many Indonesian writers are yet to be translated into English, and the number of books by Balinese in English is few. However, there are some informative, entertaining and beautifully written books written about Bali by foreigners, many of whom are long-term residents on the island. These include:


Colin McPhee – A House In Bali Miguel Covarrubias – Island of Bali

Balinese History & Culture:

Fred B. Eiseman, Jr – Bali: Sekala & Niskala
Jonathan Copeland and Ni Wayan Murni – Secrets of Bali, Fresh LIght on the Morning of the World
Adrian Vickers – Bali:A Paradise Created

Balinese Architecture:

Made Wijaya – At Home in Bali: Architecture of Bali
Barbara Walker & Rio Helmi – Bali Style

Ubud Travel Guide:

Ni Wayan Murni (writer) & Jonathan Copeland (photographer) – Murni’s Very Personal Guide to Ubud


Cat Wheeler – Dragons in the Bath, also published under the title Bali Daze
Odyle Knight – Bali Moon
Elizabeth Gilbert – Eat Pray Love

Literary Fiction:

Diana Darling – The Painted Alphabet
Jamie James – Andrew & Joey: A Tale of Bali
Richard E Lewis – Bones of the Dark Moon


Unsurprisingly, Balinese culture has been the subject of many documentaries and it’s hard to know which ones to go for. Some recent films of interest include:

Bali Is My Life
Bali: Island of the Dogs