Global Reads by Region

This is a compilation of all the books on my Global Reading List. See what I’ve read, what I’m enjoying right now, and what I’m planning to pick up at the library next (check color code at the bottom of this page). Check back often for updates and additions. Have recommendations? Be sure to share!


  • Refugee Boy by Benjamin Zephaniah (2011), this book doesn’t actually take place in Africa, but does depict the story of Elam, a boy from ETHIOPIA who becomes a refugee in London. Alone in a strange place, Elam has to deal with social services, the Refugee Council, and the transitions of a refugee completely by himself.
  • Broken Glass by Alain Mabanckou and Helen Stevenson (2010), centered in a run-down bar in the CONGO, a bar regular nicknamed Broken Glass is chosen to record the stories of all patrons. However, everyone wants to rewrite history and buff up their stories along the way. According to the review, Broken Glass speaks regularly of the great books of Africa, which may just be beneficial as I add to my reading list.
  • The Last Brother by Nathacha Appanah (2011),  set on the island of MAURITIUS in 1944, the novel tells of an unknown aspect of World War II through the journey of two young boys. Since I had no idea that WWII refugees went to Africa, nor exactly where Mauritius is located, I thought this might be beneficial for my African education.
  • The Cairo Trilogy by Naguib Mahfouz (2008)  One of the most read Egyptian authors turns his writing to the stories of Ancient EGYPT – love, war, and the pharaohs.  With my love of Egyptian artifacts, I think I’ll definitely enjoy these three. (Available on Kindle as a bundle for $14.99)


  • The Doctor’s Wife by Sawako Ariyoshi (1978), the story of the wife of the first doctor to use anesthesia in JAPAN and her relationship with her mother-in-law (as a doctor’s wife, I thought I could relate to this one) I’m having a hard time finding this one so for now, it’s off the list. 😦
  • The Three Daughters of Liang by Pearl Buck (1969), the story of a woman in early Communist CHINA and how she copes after her husband takes a concubine (I read Good Earth a few years ago and really enjoyed it so I thought I’d give Pearl Buck another try)
  • The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama (2009), the spiritual leader of Buddhism and TIBET gives shares his wisdom on happiness (I saw the Dalia Lama speak in San Diego in May 2012…amazing!)
  • The Tapestries by Kein Nguyen (2003), about a boy with royal Vietnamese blood sold into slavery at the turn of the twentieth century; interesting insight into VIETNAM colonialism and culture while telling a story of love and revenge; ending is a bit abrupt but otherwise, I enjoyed it
  • The Sounds of Waves by Yukio Mishima (1994), a young fisherman in JAPAN is entranced at the sight of the beautiful daughter of the wealthiest man in the village (I needed a good love story in the mix)
  • February Flowers by Fan Wu (2007), a girl goes off to college and becomes a woman in 1990s CHINA (as a Study Abroad Advisor, I thought this sounded pretty interesting)


  • Leaving Tabasco by Carmen Boullosa (2002), a coming of age story set in Agustini, MEXICO. The heroine, Delmira, depicts the tumultuous relationship between the Indians and the Spanish in small-town Mexico. I enjoyed the mysticism and colorful stories told by the author. 
  • Of Love and Shadows by Julia Allende (1987), Irene, a privileged journalist and Francisco, an impoverished photographer uncover a heinous crime in Pinochet CHILE
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (1988), written in BRAZIL but set in the countryside of SPAIN, this novel bridges my Latin American and European region. I can say it is very quote worthy. “It is the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting…”
  • In the Time of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez (1994), a story of the four Mirabal sisters during the time of the Trujillo dictatorship in the DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
  • Blow Up by Julio Cortazar (1985), a series of short stories exploring where the ordinary meets the mysterious.


  • In the Eye of the Sun by Ahdaf Soueif (2000), the story of a young, Egyptian woman’s pursuit of her PhD in English literature and the relationship with her husband (Since I’m interested in getting my PhD, I thought I could relate)
  • My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk (2001), a crime novel set in the courts of the sultan in 16th century Istanbul (Nothing like a good mystery!)
  • The Red Tent by Anita Diamant (1997), recounts and embellishes the Biblical story of Dinah, daughter of Jacob and Leah (I’ve seen this book at the Barnes and Nobel for years but just never bought it.)
  • Does my Head Look Big in This by Randa Abdel-Fattah (2007), a 16-year old girl embraces her faith by deciding to wear the hijab – (Love the title and the modern-day perspective)
  • One Thousand and One Nights by Anonymous, a collection of Middle Eastern folk tales.  The stories are beautifully written but lots of footnotes drags it on a bit. 

Color Code:

  • Black – on my list but haven’t started
  • Blue – currently reading
  • Red – read it and reviewed it
  • Green – read it but not reviewed

3 thoughts on “Global Reads by Region

  1. sarahawills

    I’m currently reading Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov and so far it’s very good. The book is by a Russian author about a French man living in America so I’m not sure which category you’d put it in but I’d highly recommend it! I plan to read The Alchemist in the near future and some of your other titles here sound good too This is a great list!

    1. eliseblalock Post author

      Thanks so much, Sarah. I actually considered putting Lolita on the list but now I’ll definitely do it. I read Reading Lolita in a Tehran a few years ago and I would probably be good to read Lolita. 🙂

  2. fortheintolerants

    Nice list, I’ll have to get my hands on the book set in Congo as it sounds interesting. A couple of other books you can add to your list: The Yacoubian Building by Alaa-Al-Aswany for Africa/Middle East, The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai and Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts for South Asia, and Emma’s War by Emma McCune for Africa.


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