Subject: India
As some other list members have poinetd out, you will have a love/hate relationship with India; but at the end, the love part will overweight the hate part!, at least that's what heppened to me. There is no amount of reading about India that will prevent the cultural shock; you have to experience India with the five senses. However, there are a lot of really good Indian writers in English that can help you understand better the country (I should say the continent) and its people: - R.K.Narayan: a prolific writer. His stories and novesl about Nalguri, an imaginary town, portrait the life in South India and its people. Some of his books: The man eater of Malgudi, Under the Banyan Tree and Other Stories, Waiting for the Mahtama, Malgudi Days, The Guide,.... - Arundathi Roy: she had a great succes with her first book The god of small things - Rohinton Mistry: stories about the life of the Parsi community in Bombay. A fine Balance, Such a long journey, Simming Lessons - Gita Metha: A river sutra, a wonderful and very poetic novel. - Vikram Chandra: Red Earth and Pouring Rain, Love and longing in Bombay - Amit Chadhuri: Freedom Song, A strange and sublime address - Of course, all the books by Salman Rushdie. I specially liked The moor's last sigh and Midnight's children Salman Rushdie published a few years ago (I think it was in 1997 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the independence of India and Pakistan) an anthology of indian literature in English.

If you are interested in South Asia literature yo can check this site:

On more directly travel related books, one that I liked a lot was City of Djinns by William Dalrymple. It discovers all the secrets of Delhi, a city that is sometimes dumped by travelers, but I found very interesting, specially after having read the book.