"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Monday, October 31, 2016

TTT: Great books for book club that enjoy reading books about other culltures

Top Ten Tuesday. 
Great books for book clubs that enjoy reading books from other cultures or sub-cultures.  
Keep in mind, good book club books need to generate a good discussion which means it is likely the book itself might be controversial or some of the members may not even like the book

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (2009 Knopf)...set in Ethiopia starting in the 1960s this book had me from page one. It looks daunting at over 500 pages but it was pure pleasure to both read and discuss. 

Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali by Kris Halloway (2006 Waveland Press)...a nonfiction account of Ms. Halloway's Peace Corp experience working with a midwife in a village in Mali. The story was both revealing and heart-breaking. Our club had much to discuss and digest as we learned about life in rural Africa and the hardships that most women face in their culture.

Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell (2008 Random House)---historical fiction set in the Middle East around the time of Lawrence of Arabia. I knew nothing about the events covered in this book prior to reading it. Very readable author. 

The Round House by Louise Erdrich (2012. HarperCollins)-  The Round House is set on a reservation in the Midwest. A young adolescent boy tries to solve the mystery of what happened to his mother one horrifying night and in the process is forced to grow up faster than expected. The reader is introduced to several Native American rituals and confronted with the unfairness of our laws. This book is clutch-your-chest-good.

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (2013, Viking Press)- I loved this book. The literary themes and symbolism abound. Set in both Japan and in British Columbia.

Day After Night by Anita Diamant (2009, Scribner)---set in Palestine right after WWII, this is the story of several women who are imprisoned by the British for illegally entering Palestine. I knew nothing about the Jewish experience in Palestine prior to the formation of Israel as a country. We had a powerful discussion about this book and the topic.

The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa (2009 Picadour)...he was a brilliant math professor with a head injury that allows for only 80 minutes of memory.  Set in Japan. She is his housekeeper who has a ten-year-old son. They forge a friendship within the limitations. Many gals in the club mentioned that they were surprised at how much they liked this little book and how charmed they were by the story, a few even felt they learned a little math along the way.

Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean (2007, Harper Perennial)...Set in both modern times and in Leningrad during the siege during WWII, Marina has a hard time living in the present as her brain slips back to her past life in Russia and the art she loved.  I read this book while I was in Europe looking at all the fabulous religious art, so this is a sentimental favorite.

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay (2007, St. Martin's Press)...another WWII story set in both modern times and during WWII, this story is set in France and exposes the deplorable events of the Vel' d'Hiv roundup of Jews. None of us had ever heard of this event before reading the book. I've recommended this book more than any other book on this list.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett (2011, HarperCollins)... When Dr. Swenson doesn't send any updates on the research she is doing in the Amazon rain forest, Dr. Singh is sent to look for her. This has so many unexpected adventures and is so full of moral complexities that it makes a perfect book to discuss.

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (2015, Grove Press)---A Vietnam War story told from the point of view of Vietnamese double agent. The book is amazing and so well written but was a toughy to read. Nonetheless we did have a good discussion.

Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron (2012, Algonquin)---A Tutsi runner in Rwanda wants to be the first Olympic medal winner for his country, instead he has to run for his life during the Rwandan Genocide just to save his life. We all learned a lot about this despicable event in human history.

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain (2015 Ballantine Books)---a novelization of the life of Beryl Markham who was the first woman in Kenya to learn to fly an airplane and to be a horse trainer. She was also the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, east to west. This book was a fun book to read and to discuss.


  1. Oh, this list is good. Most of these were new to me and I love books like this. Thanks!

  2. All of these are unfamiliar to me as well, Anne. :) But that's part of the fun of Top Ten Tuesday - discovering new potential reads! Makes visiting other blogs all the better. Thanks so much for visiting Finding Wonderland.

  3. Sarah's Key is on my list too. Like you, our group hadn't heard of the Vel' d'Hiv roundup and it made for an interesting discussion.

  4. Okay, I have not heard of a single one of these. They look fascinating. I would kind of need a book club to prompt me to read most of them though. Maybe when the kids are older...

  5. I really love Sarah's Key. I think it's a fantastic read.

  6. These all sound excellent; I love reading books set in Africa, in particular. Thanks for bringing these to my attention!

  7. Looks like great picks. This is the second time I've seen Sarah's Key and it sounds really good. I like to learn about other cultures and books are one of the best ways to do that. State of Wonder is another one that grabs my interest.

  8. I love your list. For one thing, I do like stories set in other cultures, and some of your picks sound like they have fascinating dual timelines and/or intrigue too. Some have been on my TBR list already, and I'll have to add the others.
    My TTT list is here

  9. What a great selection and a good summary of each so one knows which ones have too much heartbreak in them.

  10. Great list! I've read about half and agree that they're great books for discussion. I especially like State of Wonder and Cutting for Stone as book club choices.

  11. I had to open up my Amazon wish list for your post today! Thank you!


  12. Great topic idea! I think one that my book group would add to your list is Family Life by Akhil Sharma - although it is set in America, it is the story of an Indian family adjusting to the US. Terrific story.

    Here's my list - https://booksaremyfavouriteandbest.wordpress.com/2016/11/01/top-books-for-book-groups-that-like-wine-and-whining/

  13. I've only read The Round House of your picks, but many of these are on my tbr including A Tale for the Time Being, The Sympathizers, and Circling the Sun.

  14. I think it's so important to read about other cultures, especially if you never get the chance to travel. Thank you for the recs!

  15. This was a great choice of topics for book club suggestions - learning about and understanding other cultures is so important.


  16. Most of these are new books to me, and I can't wait to properly check them out. Thanks for the recommendations!

    Aditi @ http://athousandwordsamillionbooks.blogspot.in/

  17. As you know, you've named many of the books I will never part with. They have enriched my understanding of people and cultures and have changed my life.


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