10 Books for the Literary Traveler

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If you know anything about me, you know that I absolutely love traveling. While I’d love to go back to Singapore or Uganda… my bank account has been known to sabotage my plans. In case your checking account is just as evil as mine, here’s a list of old and new books that will transport you all over the world:

  1. Ghana Must Go, by Taiye Selasi: The first several pages of this book let you know what a journey it will be. I love books that bounce between lives in different cities, because I identify with how families transfer various aspects of their culture to a new context. Under the Udala Trees cover
  2. Under the Udala Trees, by Chinelo Okparanta: I reviewed this book recently– here’s a link— and I absolutely loved it. I’m a sucker for books set against the backdrop of war or political unrest. Once I learned that this book was about a young Nigerian lesbian, I knew I had to read it. Pick. This. Up.
  3. House for Happy MothersA House for Happy Mothers, by Amulya Malladi: Keeping in line with the dual setting books, A House for Happy Mothers is split between California and India, allowing for the juxtaposition of the two locations. In order to tackle the complexity of international surrogacy, Malladi delves into the motivations of an Indian American couple and the poor Indian woman who births their child. Click here for my reviewPersepolis cover
  4. Persepolis, by by Marjane Satrapi: I could rant about Perspolis’ greatness for years and still have more enthusiasm. IT was Emma Watson’s June pick for her Our Shared Shelf book club, meaning she either listened to my insistent tweets, or someone on her staff is similarly minded. Probably the second, but someone definitely got back to me on Twitter when they picked it! This is also one of the few with a film that is fantastic all on its own.
  5. The Song Poet, by Kao Kalia Yang: Written for and about her father, who worked hard to ensure his kids’ success after being forced Laos, The Song Poet is a beautiful read. I learned so much about the Hmong tradition, feeling that both the stories and the words of her father’s songs transported me to Laos.
  6. 9780307265746_custom-6f7b19b876179bb4e026d0d3b5ed4286ade72482-s300-c85Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe: I couldn’t possibly do this list without mentioning Chinua Achebe. This is the most well known of all his works, specifically of the Africa Trilogy, but you can really go with anything he’s written. If you’d like something a little shorter, I was recently gifted Vengeful Creditor by some friends over at Penguin Random House. It’s a short story that will introduce you to his brand of storytelling.
  7. The Lowland, by Jhumpa Lahiri: No, this isn’t her best book, but it’s the one I’ve read most recently. This book is elegant, as is everything else Lahiri writes, even if it gets off to a bit of a low start. Click here for my review.
  8. 1Q84, by Haruki Murakami: This book definitely transported me to Japan, but I had my moments where I didn’t know where I was. This book — like much of Murakami’s work– is trippy and experimental. It’s really unlike most books I’ve ever read. murakami
  9. Black Deutschland, by Darryl Pinckney: This was nearly my book club’s pick for last month’s meeting. However, I got outvoted by number 10. It’s still on my TBR list, though, because I’m always interested in reading about the intersection of race, gender, and sexuality, particularly in the German context.
  10. A Brief History of Seven Killings, by Marlon James: This book is a MONSTER. IT’s huge, its epic, and its detailed. The result is a lengthy transport to 1970s Jamaica. It won the Man Booker Prize, so you know its a good read, if you’re able to get past its intimidating size– our book club split it into two months, and it was still a challenge for many. If you find yourself wanting for even more Jamaican goodness, read Nicole Dennis-Benn’s Here Comes the Sun as well!

 

This was the Top Ten Tuesday topic from last week, but I had a great addition to my Diverse Book Blogger series instead. Do you have any books to add to this list? Put them in the comments! 

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30 Comments

  1. […] Ten Tuesday: 10 Books for the Literary Traveler: I rarely do Top Ten Tuesdays anymore, but this one called my name. If you’re itching to […]

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  2. Great list. There are some here I’ve read and others I’ve been meaning to get to for some time now like Persepolis, which I always forget to pick up when I’m at the store, and anything by Jhumpa Lahiri. I just really want to try one of her books.

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    1. I’d start with Interpreter of Maladies or The Namesake! There have been numerous great works since then, but Interpreter is the one that really got me interested in her work. And The Namesake has a great film accompaniment, if you’re interested!

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      1. Thanks! I’ll give it a shot.

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  3. Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria by Noo Saro-Wiwa ; Every Day is For the Thief by Teju Cole. Both are travelogues that do a great job at showing readers Nigeria through multiple lenses. I reviewed the latter years ago on my book blog.

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    1. In case I haven’t told you lately: You’re so fantastic, haha! Thanks so much for the recs!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Whitney 🙂

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