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The market is saturated with books on Nepal. Good general books include Peter Matthiessen's "The Snow Leopard", a beautifully written account of the author's pilgrimage to Dolpa to track the elusive cat; and Peter Somerville-Large's engagingly dotty "To the Navel of the World", which chronicles his adventures through Nepal's uncharted lands. Try also Pico Iyer's '"Video Night in Kathmandu", a collection of essays which has a chapter on the collision between Nepalese tradition and Western culture.

Recent histories are limited but "Fatalism & Development - Nepal's Struggle for Modernisation" by Nepalese anthropologist Dor Bahadur Bista is a good place to start. There are more up-to-date books on the country's natural history, including K K Guring's "The Heart of the Jungle",  George Schaller's "Stones of Silence - Journeys in the Himalaya" and Robert Fleming Sr et al's "Birds of Nepal".

"The Boy From Siklis" by Manjushree Thapa is a great read, which outlines much about the history of conservation in Nepal and the creation of the Annapurna Conservation Area Program. This was a huge milestone for community based conservation and had a massive impact in the trekking world - great to read if you're heading to this area! Another of Manjushree Thapa's books, "A Tutor of History" is a great insight into life and culture of Nepal told via a political novel.

Good introductions to Nepalese art can be found in Lydia Aran's "The Art of Nepal" and Hallvard Kare Kuloy's "Tibetan Rugs", while facets of the country's culture are revealed in "People of Nepal" by Dor Bahadur Bista and "Festivals of Nepal "by Mary Andersen.

"The Rough Guide to Nepal" is a great travel book for general information on the country and the Lonely Planet's "Trekking in the Nepal Himalaya" is good if you want more detailed trekking information - although it does cover all of Nepal so might be a bit much to buy just for info on one trek!

Mountaineering breeds either writers or braggarts, judging by the number of publications written after every first ascent of a Himalayan peak. Often choosing which account to read can become one's own personal Everest, but H W Tilman's "Nepal Himalaya", Chris Bonington's "Annapurna South Face" and Mark Anderson's "On the Big Hill" should steady the nerves. Otherwise, try "The Ascent of Rum Doodle" by W E Bowman - a classic mountaineering tall story.