Shopping For Buddhas is a book that describes the author's search for a "perfect" Buddha statue during his stay in Nepal, which sounds simple, even dull. That simple description doesn't tell you that the book is based on a series of stand-up shows and that Jeff Greenwald has a great eye for detail and a humourous turn of phrase. At the same time he provides a huge amount of detail about the cultural background of Nepal, of the Hindu symbolism that the statues and carvings, paintings and buildings all represent, the history of the country and he even manages to touch on subjects such as the problems in Nepal with drugs, art theft, poverty and the government.
All of the information is historic however since this is not a new book - my copy has an afterword dated March 1996 - and Nepal has changed a lot since then including a civil war and much unrest. As such the book provides a very entertaining and interesting background to the country but is probably not that helpful as a current guide for visitors planning a trip to the country - which you might expect from the Lonely Planet branding.
As someone who has visited Nepal more recently, I found this book to be a great way to backfill my knowledge of the country and a great way to map my experiences there onto the historical and cultural background of the country. And, of course, whether you plan to go there or not, the book is hugely entertaining: well written and thought provoking but without ever being dull or heavy to read.
I heartily recommend the book to anyone who enjoys travel literature, good stories and some culture and history thrown in.