Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Reading Books that Celebrate Diversity: Let's Not Be Blinkered

It's easy to become insular. Insular, as in "ignorant of or uninterested in cultures, ideas, or peoples outside one's own experience." Insular, with synonyms of "narrow-minded, small-minded, inward-looking, parochial, provincial, small-town, shortsighted, hidebound, blinkered." Shudder. Certainly not what we readers want to be.

Just as it's comfortable to stay in one's own small world, it's comfortable to stay in one's own small book world. But, oh, what we miss when we do.

I joined a challenge several years ago to move me out of that comfort zone: Around the World in 80 Books. I'm close to my goal; I've read books from seventy-one different countries. During this challenge I've visited not only places with which I'm somewhat familiar like Canada and Mexico, but I've also traveled to places I had only the vaguest notion of, including Borneo and Iceland and Cameroon.

If you are like me and want to get out of your cultural comfort zone, here are some books I recommend:

We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families by Philip Gourevich (Rwanda)

The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera (New Zealand)

Independent People by Halldor Laxness (Iceland)

Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry (India)

An Evening Among Headhunters by Lawrence Millman (Tonga)

Dreamers by Knut Hamsun (Norway)

A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park (Korea)

The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al Aswany (Egypt)

Place Where the Sea Remembers by Sandra Benitez (Mexico)

The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu (Ethiopia)

“I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something." 

                                                         ---Edward Everett Hale 

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers here at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.


  1. I love the idea of discovering new countries and cultures by reading around the World. I have read a fair bit of Japanese fiction but other than that most of what I read tends to be British or American. I am interested in quite a few books on your list :) Off to add them to my TBR on Goodreads!

    1. It is easy to find books from some culture outside my own, like India and Japan, but I'm finding it harder to find books from less well-known cultures.

  2. These are all new to me and love that you included the country. It sounds like that was a really great challenge. Great list!

  3. Wow - congratulations on being nearly at your goal! Such a fantastic idea. I'm off to go check out your recommendations on Goodreads. Good luck with the last 9 books. my TTT

  4. I haven't read from 71 countries, but I've read mysteries from a lot of different places. And, I love discovering a new culture through my favorite genre. In fact, my mysteries group is reading books from the South Pacific and Asia for our August meeting. I've got one from the Solomon Islands to read. Never read anything from there or about that area.

  5. Fantastic list. Family Matters was FANTASTIC. Thanks for reminding me of that wonderful book :D

  6. I love that you describe the word Insular because it's the word I felt after I did my top ten list today. You have a great list and I hope to add more diversity to my reading immediately.

  7. Great list. We Wish to Inform You... was an excellent book.

  8. I haven't heard of a single one of these!! What a great list of suggestions! The Yacoubian Building has an absolutely GORGEOUS cover!

    Here are my Top Ten!

  9. Sounds like a great challenge. I'm trying to read more biographies this year.

  10. Gourevich's and Mengestu's books are in my TBR collection. I've had them since they first came out. I am not sure why I haven't read they yet. Great list, Deb!

  11. What lovely, different books. Thank you for sharing your top ten and for visiting mine! :-)

  12. You win for having the most sophisticated and mature list. I've only read THE BEAUTIFUL THINGS HEAVEN BEARS and found it extremely depressing...but I think that was the point. I'm intrigued by the both the Iceland and Mexican books. Do you think they would be read by high schoolers? I am trying to up my collection to increase the number of books I have that represent other cultures and I'm having a hard time with Central and South America and Africa. Anne@Headfullofbooks

  13. I haven't heard of any of these books. Have a great week and Happy reading. :)

  14. I haven't heard of most of these books, which proves that I'm bogged down in my small book world. Congratulations on having such an important reading goal and being so near to completing it! Thanks for the awesome list. I've added a couple of books to my ever-growing TBR list :)

  15. These are all new to me. Yay for diversity in books!! :)

  16. What a great list Deb. I don't think I knew that you were doing this challenge- I have no idea how you find the time to read so much! I think it's amazing how widely you read.

  17. What a brilliant list of books Deb! I love the mix of countries on here some of them are really unusual too! I'll definitely be taking a note of some of these. Here's my list for this week if you're interested :)

  18. Hi, you asked to see my review of Go Set a Watchman. Here it is. Have you finished reading it yet?
    Go Set a Watchman at HeadFullofBooks

  19. I need to get out of my comfort zone more often and these books will be a great addition to my tbr list.

  20. I like your list. I've found myself reading and enjoying books from further and further afield as I get older. I'm not really doing it on purpose. It's more a product of having read so much of what is good in English that I find myself looking more and more for books in translation since they have something new (to me) to say.

  21. I like your list. I find myself reading books from further and further afield as I get older. I'm not doing it on purpose really, but I found I've read so much of what is good in English that I'm seeking out more literature in translation because it has something new (to me) to say.


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