I can't recommend Rory Stewart's The Places In Between enough.
The author, a Scotsman, after Eaton and Oxford, spent a few years as an officer in the British army and then became a diplomat serving in Montenegro during the Balkan's conflict and later in South East Asia.
At the age of 28, Stewart took some time off from 2000-2002 and walked across Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan, India and Nepal, a journey of 6000 miles. The Places in Between is his account of his walk across Afghanistan in the winter of 2001 - 2002.
This book succeeds on so many levels. First, if you ever hope to understand the world in which we now live, you must try to understand Middle Eastern Islamic cultures and the only way to do that, is read books like this.
Stewart's journey across Afghanistan traces the footsteps of the 15th-century emperor Babur. It is an amazing travel log through villages of different ethnic groups controlled by different war lords, some of whom supported the Taliban and some of whom hated them; at times through mountains in chest deep snow or falling through frozen rivers. Stewart describes the people he meets at these places in between in honest, unsentimental terms, mixing in the history of the region, it's past rulers, languages and customs.
But even if you have no interest in the culture or history, the story can stand alone as an amazing adventure of a life and death struggles against the elements, illness, fatigue and unpleasant people with AK-47s, some of whom wanted to kill the unarmed author.
And if none of this interests you, The Places In Between is also the heart-warming story of a boy and his dog, who he meet along the way.
This book is a great adventure and you will learn something no matter how badly you resist.
And finally, remember to always support your local independently owned book store