When I can't be off exploring other countries I like to read about them. My favourite places to read about are ones that might not necessarily be high on my travel list but fully immerse you in a foreign way of life and introduce you to new cultures and traditions. Here are a few honourable mentions to take you away from the every day!
Click on any of the books for more info or if you're like me and want to buy them straight away!
Anything by Khaled Housseni
These books are all brilliantly written stories about children in Afganistan. All three of them got me properly emotionally involved and gave me an interesting insight into life in Afganistan pre and post the Taliban regime. I would start with 'The Kite Runner'.
Half of a Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
A novel set during the Biafran War in Nigeria. The characters were so intriguing and entertaining. This was also a part of history I knew very little about so I enjoyed learning about it through the eyes of characters I found believable and likeable. I was hooked by the changes in perspective and time throughout the book.
Shantaram- Gregory David Roberts
I have always wanted to go to India and reading this book only strengthened that feeling. It is based on the true story of an escaped Australian prisoner who finds himself living in a slum in Bombay. It is a mammoth read (nearly 1000 pages) but keeps you entertained and enthralled throughout. There is a deeper philosophical side which you can choose to engage properly in or stick the surface of the story telling.
Sweetness in the Belly- Camilla Gibb
This book bounces between 1980s Britain and 1970s Ethiopia to tell the tale of a white Muslim nurse who grew up in Africa. When she returns to the UK she bonds with Ethiopian refugees and together they find new meanings for 'family' and 'home'. This book is well-written and very easy to read and enjoy.
The Angel of Grozny- Asne Seierstad
I've just ordered the third book by this author as I find her books so interesting and eye-opening. Seierstad is a Norwegian journalist who travels to war zones to report on real-life stories of people living there. This book is set in Chechnya and tells the story of woman who takes in children who have been lost or orphaned by the conflict with Russia. It also tells the children's stories and gives some history into the war and how it developed. Her other books 'The Bookseller of Kabul' and 'With Their Backs to the World' cover the conflicts in Afganistan and Kosovo.
Without You, There Is No Us- Suki Kim
This book is written by a Korean-American who goes to teach English in North Korea. She compiles notes in secret and uses the information she gathers to give an amazing insight into a country most people will never have anything to do with. I found it both mind blowing and though provoking to learn about how people brought up in such a regime act.
Lion (A Long Way Home) - Saroo Brierley
The true story of a six year old boy who gets lost on a train in India and finds his way to Calcutta where he lives on the streets. He ends up being adopted by an Australian family. This is the story of how he got lost and how he spent many years trying to find his family again. It is now a movie too.
Three Cups of Tea- David Oliver Relin
I hesitated about recommending this book due to the controversy surrounding it but decided to do it because I found it so inspiring. The true story of an American climber who finds himself in a small Pakistani village after getting lost on a mountain. He vows to help the people of the village by building a school. Not only does he fulfil this promise but also goes on to build many other schools in the neighbouring villages. There is debate as to the truth behind his original story and the use of the money his charity raised. But looking past that, this book really hit home when talking about the importance of education, particularly for girls. I was inspired to look for ways Max and I could help similar causes during our travels.
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