A Carpet Ride To Khiva, By Christopher Aslan Alexander

Christopher Aslan Alexander begins his journey to Khiva, in Uzbekistan, like any other itinerant, media-studies graduate employed to write an online tourist's guidebook might: living with an over-protective host family, gurning at the cuisine and reflecting urbanely on a country "marooned somewhere between Mohammed and Marx" where the government has pasted "Wanted" posters of Wahabis outside mosques.

Then a narrative switch flips as Alexander falls in love: with the place and its ancient practice of carpet making. His endeavour becomes emotional - so much more than the guidebook he set out to write - and his prose is, from thereon in, infused by the passion he comes to feel for this curious country and its people.