For some reason I’ve been putting off making my European reading list. But last night I finally got my Global Reads by Region page up and running and I decided I need to get going with my European books as well.
In the past, I have read a number of books written by British authors. Jane Austen is my all time favorite. I read the Night Circus this year by Erin Morgenstern (I definitely recommend it if you are a reader that likes to imagine your books). Of course I’ve read all the Harry Potter novels (who hasn’t), the Lord of the Ring trilogy by Tolkein, and the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, as well as a number of historical fictions on the British monarchies by Philippa Gregory. With all that said, I’ve decided to avoid British writers. Perhaps I’ll give them a section of their own in the future. Instead I’m focusing on books I’ve heard set in Europe but that I’ve never read. Here’s what I’ve got so far:
In the Merde for Love by Stephen Clarke (2005), discovering the culture of the French is a specialty of Stephen Clarke. After reading a great blog post about A Year in the Merde, I scoped out the local library for a copy but instead found the second book in his series. Focused on love in FRANCE, this one is bound to have me laughing.
The Leopard by Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa (1958), set in the 1860s ITALY, The Leopard tells the spellbinding story of a decadent, dying Sicilian aristocracy threatened by the approaching forces of democracy and revolution. I actually read this book in college in Italian but unfortunately it didn’t stick well. I thought I’d give it a try in English.
Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren (1945), in a little town in SWEDEN the outrageous red-headed Pippi Longstocking brings adventure to her neighbors. When I was just 4 or 5 my parents took me to the play of Pippi Longstocking but I haven’t read or really heard of her since. This will be a lighthearted and easy read.
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (1873), a classic I’ve not read yet, Anna Karenina is one of the great novels of RUSSIA. The sensual, rebellious Anna renounces a respectable marriage for an affair that offers passion.
Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis (1946), the tale of a young intellectual in GREECE who ventures to escape his bookish life with the aid of his boisterous friend, Alexis Zorba
Help me add to my list! Have you read any great books by European authors?
Rather than research and make my reading list for Latin America, I thought I would just ask for recommendations. What have you read set in Central or South America that you would read again? Post your recommendation and I’ll add it to the list.
I haven’t read many books set in Latin America, but here is what I’ve read or I’m currently reading:
Leaving Tabasco by Carmen Boullosa (currently reading while in Mexico)
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriela Garcia Marquez
Love in the Time of Colera by Gabriela Garcia Marquez
After finishing my first book (The Tapestries…really good, by the way) from my Asian list last night, I thought I needed to continue on with my book list and add books of African settings to my list. Thinking back, I can only think of one book I’ve read that took place in Africa: Monique and the Mango Rains. It just happens to be one of the best books I’ve ever read – I laughed, cried, and learned so much about Mali. Written by Kris Holloway, she recounts her Peace Corps experience in Mali working with a local midwife named Monique. I actually met Kris at a conference in February, but unfortunately my copy is in a storage unit in South Carolina so I couldn’t have her sign it (Boo!), but Kris was great!
In addition to Monique and the Mango Rains, here’s what I’ve found that I’ve added to my list:
Refugee Boy by Benjamin Zephaniah (2011) So 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. With my hopes to volunteer with the refugee community in Oklahoma, I thought this would be a good one. (Available on Kindle for $3.32)
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. (Available on Kindle for $9.99)
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. (Available on Kindle for $9.99)
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)
I have a fascination with the Middle East. I’ve never been to an Arab country, but regardless, I find the culture incredibly intriguing and attempt to satisfy my interest through my book choices. In addition to Prisoner of Tehran, books with Middle Eastern influence that I have indulged in so far are some of the more popular:
Here’s what I’ve put on my Middle Eastern reading list:
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 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 folktales (A classic that I’ve wanted to read for a long time…and it’s free on Kindle!)
Looking for more internationally themed books? Check out my Asian Inspired Reading List. (I’m reading The Tapestries now and it is excellent!)
For more recommendations for Middle Eastern reads, check out these sites:
I found a great new website this weekend through Stumble Upon called Which Book. You put in the type of book you want to read and the site spits out recommendations. It inspired me to start my future reading list and I’ve made up my mind to do it by region of the world. I’m starting with Asia; the books have to be set in Asia and preferably written by a person of Asian heritage. I hope to mix it up a bit with fiction and non-fiction. Here’s what I’ve got so far:
Sawako Ariyoshi, The Doctor’s Wife, (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)
Pearl S. Buck, The Three Daughters of Liang (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)
Dalai Lama, The Art of Happiness (2009), the spiritual leader of Buddhism gives shares his wisdom on happiness (I just saw the Dalia Lama speak at SDSU a few weeks ago…amazing!)
Kien Nguyen, The Tapestries (2003), about a boy with royal Vietnamese blood sold into slavery at the turn of the twentieth century (this just looked good)
Mishima, Yukio, The Sounds of Waves (1994), a young fisherman 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)
Fan Wu, February Flowers (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)
In addition to these, I have a few books of Asian influence that I’ve already read and would definitely recommend: