In order to build up some knowledge before you visit Nepal we strongly recommend the “Lonely Planet Guide to Nepal”. In addition if you’re coming trekking then both the “Lonely Planet Trekking in the Nepal Himalaya” and Steve Razzetti’s excellent “Nepal, 25 Treks and 12 Climbing Peaks (Trekking & Climbing Guide)” make sense. For white water enthusiasts Peter Knowles’ “White Water Nepal” is the must read.
For bird-watchers “Birds of Nepal” by Fleming, Fleming and Bangdel or “Field Guide to the Birds of Nepal” by Grimmett, Inskipp and Inskipp are probably the best field guides to carry. The latter’s “Birds of Nepal” is probably the best comprehensive guide. Birdlifenepal.org is a good website.
“Himalayan Flowers and Trees” by Mierow and Shrestha is probably the best guide to flora.
For a more general read try Peter Matthiessen’s classic “The Snow Leopard” or Maurice Herzog’s contentious “Annapurna: The First Conquest of an 8,000 Metre Peak” – especially if you’re in the Annapurna region. Another good read is “Into Thin Air” by Jon Krakauer, a personal account of the 1996 Everest disaster. And if anyone can hunt down a copy of “Honey Hunters of Nepal” by Eric Valli good luck to you. For some mountaineering humour try the classic “The Ascent of Rum Doodle“. If anyone is aware of any more good titles please let us know.
Films; “The Cup” aka Phörpa, director Khyentse Norbu or the better, but less well known, “Himalaya” directed by Eric Valli, which was shot in the Dolpo region using local actors. The documentary “Unmistaken Child” directed by Nati Baratz (available in Kathmandu) should be watched by anyone travelling to the Tsum Valley, or, indeed, any other ethnic Tibetan area. There is also a BBC documentary called “Jimmy and the Wild Honey Hunters”. A US PBS documentary Lost Cave Temples of the Himalayas recounts recent (2011) archaeological attempts to explore caves in the Upper Mustang area. If anyone is aware of any more good titles please let us know.