Thursday, May 29, 2014

Armchair BEA: Beyond the Borders


Beyond the Borders
It’s time to step outside your comfort zone, outside your borders, or outside of your own country or culture. Tell us about the books that transported you to a different world, taught you about a different culture, and/or helped you step into the shoes of someone different from you. What impacted you the most about this book? What books would you recommend to others who are ready or not ready to step over the line? In essence, let’s start the conversation about diversity and keep it going! 


Fiction


American Dervish
American Dervish
I recently finished this book and haven't written a review yet. American Dervish is the story of a young boy whose world changes forever as a family friend opens his eyes to the beauty and danger of wholeheartedly following a religion.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
I don't know if you all know a lot about the conflict in Chechnya during the 1990s, but I did not. This exquisitely written novel will break your heart as Akhmed tries to save his friend's daughter and we discover the danger and saving grace of loving other people.

No One Is Here Except All of Us

I may be somewhat biased in loving this book, as my father is Romanian and it is one of the few books I know of that takes place in that country. This story is set around the events of WWII as the inhabitants of a small village wonder if they can use the power of story to escape the evil that is approaching their home.

Songs of Willow Frost
Songs of Willow Frost
Willow and her son William are living in San Francisco during the time of the Great Depression. This book is beautifully written and shows readers the discrimination faced by Asian citizens during this time period and the tragic choices they must make to survive.

Pigeon English

Harri has recently moved to London from Ghana with his mother and finds himself smack in the middle of a gang war. Our protagonist is 11 years old and the combination of his hope and the ugly conditions in which he lives is both striking and heartbreaking.

The Madonnas of Echo Park
The Madonnas of Echo Park: A Novel
This collection of stories revolves around an immigrant community in LA. The characters are fascinating and their problems are both specific to racism and immigration and universal to the human experience.

White Teeth 
White Teeth
Archie, Clara, Samad, and Alsana are the bridge generation who were born and raised in different countries but are raising their children in London. This powerful story looks at cultural differences amid the shared hope of parents that their children will have better lives than they did.

People of the Book 
People of the Book
This is one of my favorite books ever. Geraldine Brooks moves deftly through time and nations as she imagines the creation and preservation of one of Judaism's sacred texts.


Non-fiction

Mighty Be Our Powers

This book tells Gbowee's story of surviving during the conflict in Liberia as she gathered her fellow women to fight for peace in their land.

Outcasts United
Outcasts United: A Refugee Team, an American Town
Outcasts United is about a Jordanian woman who almost accidentally becomes the coach of a youth soccer team comprised entirely of refugees. This story gives great insight into the lives of people who have immigrated to the US and the challenges they face.


Have you read any of these books? Which books transported you to a different country or culture?

22 comments:

  1. So, I haven't read any of those, but I am definitely going to be checking them out ;)

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    1. I'm glad! It is our literary obligation to add to each other's tbr lists, you know...:)

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  2. Short stories usually aren't my thing, but Madonnas sounds interesting and different, especially since the stories are interwined - so it may be read as if it was a novel, I suppose (P.S.: I read your review. Very well written!).

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    1. Thanks Roberta! I didn't know too much about that one going into it, but I'm very glad I read it.

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  3. I love it when novels transport me to new places and into new situations (that's why I read!). These books look so interesting. I haven't read any of them. Thanks for the recommendations!

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    1. Exactly! I realize that I tend to read a lot of historical fiction, but not necessarily modern stories set in different places. I suppose it's something for me to keep in mind...

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  4. I haven't read any of these books but they do look very interesting and very helpful in seeing the perspective of someone else.

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    1. I hope you get the chance to read some of them, Kathryn!

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  5. Wow!! What a great list! I love a constellation of vital phenomona!

    Katelynn
    www.literarychameleon.blogspot.com

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    1. Me too! The writing was so gorgeous.

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  6. The most recent book that I read that taught me about life in different times and life styles was A Place at the Table by Susan Rebecca White. I thought it was a wonderful, if at times difficult, book to read.

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    1. That author sounds familiar. I will have to look up the book. Thanks!

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  7. Oh I love People of the Book! Brooks is just amazing. I really liked the Dovekeepers and City of the Sun as other interesting books about Judaism.

    You have a few others on your list on my TBR that I now want to move up and read!

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    1. I loved The Dovekeepers too. I don't think I've read City of the Sun, though.

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  8. I was hoping you'd post on this topic! I've read People of the Book and A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. I'm going to write down this list for my TBR pile.

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    1. It was funny because I was sort of nervous to see if I had a good list of diverse reads. I had forgotten about several of these excellent books!

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  9. I haven't heard of any of these books except White Teeth! And I never knew what it was about. It sounds really interesting and so does the Geraldine Brooks book. Thanks for sharing! =)

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    1. I'm glad you saw some books that caught your interest. :)

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  10. Oooh, this is a FANTASTIC list :D I've read a good handful of those and enjoyed them a LOT. (Especially Constellation...that was probably my #1 read last year)

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    1. Thanks Jennifer! Once I started making this list, I'm afraid things snowballed a bit...

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  11. I actually have Constellation on my to-read pile right now and after your description, I'm even more excited to get to it :)

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    1. It's so so good. I can't wait to hear what you think!

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