Tag: Diversiverse


Books From Around the World

Posted 19 July, 2016 by Trish in Reading Nook / 28 Comments

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10 Books from Around the World

Reading books from around the world is something I love to focus on. I love traveling to different countries via books and seeing the world through other’s eyes. Sadly over the past couple of years, though, I haven’t been paying as much attention to where I’m reading nor where the authors I’m reading are from. This means that while my reading is still fairly diverse, the books I’ve been reading have been mostly set in the United States and the UK.

Today the ladies at The Broke and the Bookish are asking for our favorite books that aren’t set in the US. I took this one step further and am sharing books set abroad by authors who are not from the US. This means I had to leave out some of my favorites–The Poisonwood Bible (Congo), Maus (Poland), The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Dominican Republic)–but hopefully you can find something on the list to diversify your reading list.

Books From Around the World

Books Around the World

The Bone People by Keri Hulme (New Zealand) – A beautiful and tender story about the tenuous relationship between an outcast woman, an orphaned boy, and a haunted man.  Hulme focuses on the Maori culture and the way that the indiginous people are margionalized in New Zealand. A touching read. On Goodreads

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (India) – Set in 1960s India, The God of Small Things centers around young twins and an Untouchable whom they both love dearly despite “love laws.” While this wasn’t the easiests of reads, it gripped me while reading it and has had a lasting impact on me. More of my thoughts | On Goodreads

The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (Canada) – I feel a bit of a cheat including a book set in Canada in this list, but I love Atwood’s books set in Toronto which make me nostalgic for the years that I lived there when I was young. The Blind Assassin is part mystery, part science fiction, but entirely engrossing. On Goodreads

I Remember Beirut by Zeina Abirached (Lebanon) – This graphic memoir shows what life was like during the Lebanese Civil War through the eyes of a child. I loved the black and white illustrations, but what struck me was seeing the everyday juxtaposed with a wartorn country. More of my thoughts |  On Goodreads

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka (Ukraine) – Partly set in the UK and partly set in Ukraine, I learned so much about wartime and peacetime life through Lewycka’s quirkly little book. A Short History is full of colorful characters and is a gem of a book. More of my thoughts  | On Goodreads

 

Books Around the World

Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata (Japan) – The book that made me put Seeing the Cherry Blossoms in Japan on my bucket list. While the book details a love affair, the descriptions of the Japanese countryside and culture were unforgettable. More of my thoughts | On Goodreads

My Father’s Paradise by Ariel Sabar (Iraq) – I’m breaking my “authors not from the US” with this selection, but I wanted to include Sabar’s memoir/biography/history of searching for his Jewish roots in Kurdish Iraq. Certainly when we think of Iraq, we don’t automatically think of the Jewish faith, but reading Sabar’s book brought to light so many things about the country and religion. More of my thoughts | On Goodreads

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende (Chile) – One of those sweeping South American family sagas with all of the magical realism. No but really–a great multi-generational story that will make any soap opera look tame. I read this one over a decade ago and some of the scenes are still so vivid in my memory. On Goodreads

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel (Mexico) – Admittedly I didn’t love this little love story set in Mexico, but so many people rave about it that I’ve kept it on my shelf for a re-read one day. Do you do that? Plan to read a book you didn’t love the first time to see if you like it better the second? Sigh. More of my thoughts | On Goodreads

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria) – Another book set in the 1960s, this time during the Nigerian-Baifran war. A war I didn’t realize happened and a country I didn’t realize existed (Biafra) until I read this book. Half of a Yellow Sun is a character study and one that I would love to revisit. You know, right after I read Adichie’s other books first! More of my thoughts | On Goodreads

Coming up with this list made me realize how much I miss reading the world.

Which books set outside of the US by international authors do I need to add to my reading list? I’d love to hear your recommendations.

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Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Posted 13 October, 2015 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 21 Comments

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Everything i never told youTitle: Everything I Never Told You
Author: Celeste Ng
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell | Audio Duration: 10 hr, 1 min
Published: 2014 | Pages: 320 | Genre: Fiction
Rating: Quiet, Absorbing, Beautiful

On Amazon | On Indiebound | On Goodreads | On Audible

In Short: Lydia is dead–or so the novel begins. The teenage middle child of the Lee family is found drowned and as the family tries to piece together what may have happened, their own threads begin to unravel.

Why I Listened: Everything I Never Told You was one of the most buzzed about books last year and having listened to Campbell’s narration in the past I knew that’s the way I wanted to go (plus I can always seem to get to buzzy type books on audio well before paper).

Thoughts in General: Going into Everything I Never Told You, I knew that this was a family drama surrounding the death of a family member and that honestly didn’t appeal to me too much. What I found instead was a look into the lives of all of the Lee family members–from the three children to their mother and father, both past and present. I also didn’t realize that the book was set in the 1970s (and earlier) which provided an interesting backdrop for the biracial marriage between James (Chinese) and Marilyn (white). Identity, especially for the children, plays a large part in the story.

What really hit me regarding the book, though, comes straight from the title–how many secrets do we hold within ourselves? What do we keep from our partners or children? What goes left unsaid? When it’s all said and done, is it worth keeping those truths within us and present an outward lie? I loved the way that Ng slowly peels back the layers of the Lee family to show the reader all of the complexity that lies within. Everything I Never Told You broke my heart about a billion different ways.

The writing in Everything I Never Told You is beautiful–the narration is omniscient so we see everyone’s thoughts and desires. I’m not sure if this was a function of the audio or not, but the narration seemed to jump around from character to character quite frequently. While this can feel jarring in some books, it felt so seamless within this one–almost like we focused on one character and then the baton was passed to the next and we were then inside that person’s head. I wish I had some quotes from the book to share with you…but audiobook pitfall.

Bottom Line: I was really struck by Everything I Never Told You. I think common complaints about the book might be that it is too dark or sad or that there isn’t a lot that happens throughout the book (this is one of those character driven stories I love so much). However, the story and the characters made me reflect upon my own life and I think this book would make a great book club selection. This will likely make my list for favorite books of 2015.

Notes on the Audio: I loved Cassandra Campbell’s narration for Everything I Never Told You. Her quiet and reflective tone was perfect for the book and made for a compelling listen (I know, quiet and compelling don’t seem to go together). While I imagine this would also be a great read on paper, I would absolutely recommend listening to Everything I Never Told You!

Have you read Everything I Never Told You? Do you enjoy books dealing with familial issues?

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Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Posted 8 October, 2015 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 11 Comments

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brown girl dreamingTitle: Brown Girl Dreaming
Author/Narrator: Jacqueline Woodson
Audio Duration: 3 hr, 55 min
Published: 2014 | Pages: 352
Genre: Memoir/Free Verse/Young Adult
Rating: Go! Read it!

On Amazon | On Indiebound | On Goodreads | On Audible

In Short: A memoir written in free verse, Woodson looks back on her childhood growing up in Ohio, South Carolina, and New York during the 60s and 70s.

Why I Read/Listened: Brown Girl Dreaming has received so much praise since it’s initial release. I opted for a combination of audio and ebook and was glad to take in both methods. I pushed up my reading of Brown Girl Dreaming for Aarti’s #Diversiverse event.

Thoughts in General: I can’t remember the last time I read a book written in verse, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started Brown Girl Dreaming. Don’t worry–while the writing itself is lyrical, this verse is anything but stuffy or difficult to get into. Which I guess makes sense given the target audience of young adults/middle grade.

What will you find in Brown Girl Dreaming? A little bit of everything–Woodson writes a lot about her family, about her experiences growing up in the north and the south–the differences between the two, her faith and childhood involvement as a Jehovah’s Witness, the other kids on her block, her desire to find the words to become a writer.

There are serious chapters–many involving the Civil Rights movement, but there are also chapters that highlight that Woodson was simply a girl–who wanted her hair done a certain way or wanted to listen to fun(ky) music on the radio. There were bits that made me smile and reminisce over my own childhood antics, and there were other bits that made me fume at the way that race is treated (still) in our nation.

Some Bits I Liked: (the / symbolize line breaks, though some might be off due to my ebook)

On being chided for not wanting to share with the other neighborhood children:  “But our hearts aren’t bigger than that. / Our hearts are tiny and mad. / If our hearts were hands, they’d hit. / If our hearts were feet, they’d surely kick somebody!”

On finding a library book with brown people: “If someone had taken / that book out of my hand / said, You’re too old for this / maybe / I’d never have believed / that someone who looked like me / could be in the pages of the book / that someone who looked like me / had a story.”

On writing her name: “Love the sound of the letter and the promise / that one day this will be connected to a full name, / my own / that I will be able to write / by myself. / Without my sister’s hand over mine, / making it do what I cannot yet do. / How amazing these words are that slowly come to me. / How wonderfully on and on they go. Will the words end, I ask / whenever I remember to. / Nope, my sister says, all of five years old now, / and promising me / infinity.”

Bottom Line: Read it! Listen to it! Share it! It will make you think back to your own childhood but at the same time allow you to envision some of the experiences of a young African American girl growing up in such a volatile moment in history.

Notes on the Audio: While I didn’t love Woodson’s voice as I might other narrators, there was a certain impact that listening to her read her own poems provided to the experience. Normally I can either recommend listening to or reading a book, but in this instance I recommend doing both. It’s short, so why not?

Have you read Brown Girl Dreaming? Have you read other books written in verse that you’d recommend?

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A More Diverse Universe | #Diversiverse

Posted 4 October, 2015 by Trish in Reading Nook / 10 Comments

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Diversiverse 2015

 

Today starts the beginning of A More Diverse Universe (aka #Diversiverse) started by Aarti of Book Lust. This is the third year for the event and one that I encourage you to check out. What started out as an event to drive awareness to speculative fiction authors of color turned into a wide campaign for readers to read any genre of book by a person of color during the two week event. Think of it as a celebration along the lines of the We Need Diverse Books campaign.

Now, here’s where I get a little upfront and honest with you. Talking about diversity makes me a little uncomfortable as I am a white, middle class, able-bodied, cisgender woman. What authority do I have to talk about diversity? Looking back to high school, I was the only white straight person in my group of friends but other than jokes and such no one discussed their diverse experience. I didn’t think a whole lot about it at the time and now don’t really know how to talk about it. But one thing that I do know is that diverse authors have a tougher time being published, their stories are not as widely told, and the white experience is the one that shows up most frequently in our books.

Just as I wish that there were more female superheroes in the cartoons that my 4 year old daughter likes to watch, I know that other parents wish that their own diverse backgrounds (or that of their children) were reflected in the books and programs that their children watch–or the books that are read at bedtime, or the books that adults enjoy to consume on their own.

We Need Diverse Books

And the comment that I receive most when I talk about diversity here is “I like to read what I like to read” or “I don’t want to have to feel guilty about my reading choices” or “I don’t pay attention to an author’s race before I pick up a book” or “what difference does it make and why does it matter.” I get it. I like to read what I like to read as well–and I definitely do not have time to feel guilty over what I’m reading and what I’m not reading, and does it really matter if I pick up a book by an Asian author rather than a white author?

But here’s the rub–you do not have to read outside of your comfort zone in order to find diverse authors. And if you are having troubles finding an author of color to read within your specific comfort zone, maybe ask yourself why that is. Is it because authors of color aren’t writing that genre? Unlikely. Trust me, my goal is not to make anyone feel guilty…reading is a hobby and should be enjoyable! But awareness is a good first step.

So, you want to join in #Diversiverse but don’t know where to start? Below are a few of my favorite books by authors of color:

Diversiverse Reads

The Color Purple by Alice Walker – a beautiful book of letters, two sisters, and a dear god.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston – Janie’s story of love and loss–I hope to listen to this one on audio as a re-read! (more of my thoughts)

Remains of the Day by Kazou Ishiguro – Another book about love and loss, though to be cheeky this story is about an old white man. (more of my thoughts)

Bayou by Jeremy Love – A graphic novel (two volumes published) about a young girl who is trying to clear her father’s name in the deep south. (more of my thoughts)

 

Diversiverse Reads

No Land’s Man by Aasif Mandvia memoir about growing up as a South Asian man in Florida via the UK. Funny and thoughtful. (more of my thoughts)

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz – a rich story about the Dominican Republic and a cast of colorful characters. (more of my thoughts)

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan – Vignettes of Chinese immigrant mothers and their American born daughters. (more of my thoughts)

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy – I’m now wondering if any of these books aren’t about love and loss. This tale set in India left me a sobbing heap! (more of my thoughts)

I also wrioe a post about some favorite nonfiction titles (memoirs) as well as other favorite books that celebrate diversity (of all kinds, not just the author’s race).

And please check out Aarti’s #Diversiverse event over the next two weeks! I’m currently reading Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson for my first selection and hope to update y’all with other selections by the end of the two weeks.

Are you participating in Diversiverse? What book would you add to my list of recommendations?

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Ten Books to Celebrate Diversity

Ten Books to Celebrate Diversity

  Today’s Top Ten topic is actually Authors I’ve Read the Most. Since I did a post fairly similar to that a year ago (I’ll sum it up…Stephen King is my most read author), I decided to back track a few weeks to Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity/Diverse Characters. Diversity in reading is something that’s been on my radar this year–enough so that I’ve been tracking how many books I read by non-white authors. Included in […]

Posted 11 August, 2015 by Trish in Reading Nook / 15 Comments
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An Untamed State by Roxane Gay

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay

Title: An Untamed State Author: Roxane Gay Published: 2014; Pages: 368 Genre: Fiction/Thriller Rating: Visceral On Amazon | On Indiebound | On Goodreads | On Audible In Short: Mireille is kidnapped and brutally held captive for a ransom while visiting her homeland of Haiti. Why I Read: Curiosity. I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy read, but it has received praise amongst bloggers. I also purchased this as a daily ebook deal, so it was burning a […]

Posted 30 April, 2015 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 18 Comments
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Graphic Novel Reviewlettes

Graphic Novel Reviewlettes

    Comics in February was a blast! I love this month so much and spent many hours curled up with graphics as well as taking many trips to various libraries. I feel like I didn’t make a dent in what I wanted to read for the month and am sad to take back so many unread books back to the library. Some I’ll pick up again for Nonfiction November and hopefully I’ll remember to […]

Posted 1 March, 2015 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 24 Comments
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Bayou (v1-2) by Jeremy Love

Bayou (v1-2) by Jeremy Love

Title: Bayou Volume 1 and Volume 2 Author: Jeremy Love Published: 2009/2011 Pages: 160/160 Genre: Graphic Novel/Fantasy-Horror? Rating: Gutwrenching and Breathtaking Volume 1 On Amazon | On Goodreads // Volume 2 On Amazon | On Goodreads In Short: Set in 1930s Mississippi, Lee Wagstaff’s father is accused of kidnapping a little white girl. Little Lee journeys to hell and beyond to find the monster that snatched her friend. Why I Read:I first learned of this one during Diversiverse a […]

Posted 10 February, 2015 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 14 Comments
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