From the frontier capital of Ulaanbaatar to the intimate interior of a nomad’s ger, Mongolia offers the traveler a chance to explore the ancient customs of inner Asia. Reading about the country can prepare you for the colorful traditions you may encounter on your travels, such as the famous Naadam festival. Tour the inside of a Mongolian nomad’s residence through the lens of author and photographer Liza Carter. Re-imagine the life of Genghis Kahn through historian Jack Weatherford’s accessible narrative histories, or follow in the footsteps of the great leader with Tim Cope in On the Trail of Genghis Khan. These books invite the traveler to engage with a fascinating past while participating in the vibrant modern Mongol culture being played out across the great Central Asian steppe.

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford. In this revisionist biography, Weatherford refurbishes the popular image of the great Mongol leader Genghis Khan, portraying him not just as a tyrant but also a religiously tolerant family man and entrepreneur on a world scale. The book is a lively portrait of Genghis Khan and the world of the Medieval Mongols, who once ruled the largest land empire on Earth. Weatherford, who has lived and studied in Mongolia, interweaves his own travels and field work on the Central Asian steppe, much of it on horseback. You may also be interested in Weatherford’s recent publication Genghis Kahn and the Quest for God.

Moving with the Seasons by Liza Carter. This intimate look at rural Mongolian life was a collaborative effort between author and photographer Liza Carter and a nomadic Mongolian family living on the steppe. Through spring, summer, winter and fall, Carter’s personable prose and excellent photography capture the people’s daily lives, in many ways still untouched by modernity. Interesting sections include the building of the traditional hut (or “ger”), the milking of horses, polo and wrestling matches and the national Nadaam festival.

On the Trail of Genghis Khan by Tim Cope. Inspired by the nomadic tradition, award-winning adventurer Tim Cope traveled by horseback across the entire length of the Eurasian steppe from Karakorum, the ancient capital of Mongolia, through Kazakhstan, Russia, Crimea and Ukraine, all the way to the Danube in Hungary. But before Cope can embark on the adventure, in which he must grapple with the extreme heat, horse thieves and high mountain passes, he must learn to ride a horse.

The Blue Sky by Galsan Tschinag. Set in the Altai Mountains of northern Mongolia, this novel confronts the clashes between the nomadic Tuvan people’s ancient way of life and the pervasive influence of modern society. First of a trilogy that includes The Gray Earth and The White Mountain.

Odyssey Guide Mongolia by Carl Robinson. With the panache of a practiced foreign correspondent, Robinson reels in friends and colleagues, including American Museum of Natural History paleontologist Mark Norrell and Smithsonian ethnographer William Fitzhugh, for short contributions on topics of interest for this illustrated guide.

Browse more books about Mongolia at Longitude Books.