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.