Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Around the World in 7 Books

This is something I will do for fun: I picked out 7 books that take place in different continents and these books are ones I haven't read before.

Africa: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

“Homegoing is an inspiration.” —Ta-Nehisi Coates 

The unforgettable New York Times best seller begins with the story of two half-sisters, separated by forces beyond their control: one sold into slavery, the other married to a British slaver. Written with tremendous sweep and power, Homegoing traces the generations of family who follow, as their destinies lead them through two continents and three hundred years of history, each life indelibly drawn, as the legacy of slavery is fully revealed in light of the present day.

Effia and Esi are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.

(From the publisher's website)

What influenced me to choose this book is first of all the summary, the unique setting, and a wonderful review from readdiversebooks. Not to mention, this will be a unique take on the multigenerational saga that was popular few decades ago where one book covers a few generations. Hopefully this is something I will enjoy. I would like to thank my wonderful sister for the gift.

Antarctica: The Comet Seekers by Helen Sedgwick 

One Day meets The Time Traveler's Wife in this spellbinding, magical debut novel about love, loss, hope and heartbreak that shows us that for each of us, the world can be as lonely or as beautiful as the comets that illuminate the skies above us.

Róisín and François first meet in the snowy white expanse of Antarctica. And everything changes.

While Róisín grew up in a tiny village in Ireland, ablaze with a passion for science and the skies and for all there is to discover about the world, François was raised by his beautiful young mother, who dreamt of new worlds but was unable to turn her back on her past.

As we loop back through their lives, glimpsing each of them only when a comet is visible in the skies above, we see how their paths cross as they come closer and closer to this moment.

Theirs are stories filled with love and hope and heartbreak, that show how strangers can be connected and ghosts can be real, and the world can be as lonely or as beautiful as the comets themselves.

First of all I won this book in goodreads, and I have a good feeling that this book will be similar to The Golem and the Djini which I've read a few years ago. Also as well, I don't have any books that are set in Antarctica and the summary does sound pretty fascinating, doesn't it?

Asia: A True Novel by Minae Mizumura

A remaking of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights set in postwar Japan

A True Novel begins in New York in the 1960s, where we meet Taro, a relentlessly ambitious Japanese immigrant trying to make his fortune. Flashbacks and multilayered stories reveal his life: an impoverished upbringing as an orphan, his eventual rise to wealth and success—despite racial and class prejudice—and an obsession with a girl from an affluent family that has haunted him all his life. A True Novel then widens into an examination of Japan’s westernization and the emergence of a middle class.

The winner of Japan’s prestigious Yomiuri Literature Prize, Mizumura has written a beautiful novel, with love at its core, that reveals, above all, the power of storytelling.

Simply put, I loved reading the Wuthering Heights,  and when I heard of this book, it piqued my curiosity a lot; a Japanese version of Wuthering Heights.

Australia: The Thorn Birds- Colleen McCullough

Powered by the dreams and struggles of three generations, THE THORN BIRDS is the epic saga of a family rooted in the Australian sheep country. At the story's heart is the love of Meggie Cleary, who can never possess the man she desperately adores, and Ralph de Bricassart, who rises from parish priest to the inner circles of the Vatican...but whose passion for Meggie will follow him all the days of his life.

I got the book at a library sale, and recently I acquired Masters of Rome series. Besides this book and another one, I don't have any fiction that is based on Australia.

Europe: Mary Queen of Scotland and The Isles by Margaret George

She was a child crowned a queen; a sinner hailed as a saint; a lover denounced as a whore; a woman murdered for her dreams.

A fictional account of the life of Mary Queen of Scots traces her lineage and describes her childhood, marriages, and her historic fight with Elizabeth over the throne of England.

To be honest, I don't know anything about Mary Queen of Scots aside from her last years, and because it does take place in different European nations from Scotland to England and to France. I would like to learn more about her and see Queen Elizabeth in a not favorable light. 

North America: Sacagawea by Anna Lee Waldo

Clad in a doeskin, alone and unafraid, she stood straight and proud before the onrushing forces of America's destiny: Sacajawea, child of a Shoshoni chief, lone woman on Lewis and Clark's historic trek -- beautiful spear of a dying nation.

She knew many men, walked many miles. From the whispering prairies, across the Great Divide to the crystal capped Rockies and on to the emerald promise of the Pacific Northwest, her story over flows with emotion and action ripped from the bursting fabric of a raw new land.

Ten years in the writing, SACAJAWEA unfolds an immense canvas of people and events, and captures the eternal longings of a woman who always yearned for one great passion -- and always it lay beyond the next mountain. 

Because it takes place from East coast to West Coast and covers different states and places that the three journeyed. Not to mention, a definitely unique read I imagine about a less known heroine of the time.

South America: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

In an unnamed South American country, a world-renowned soprano sings at a birthday party in honor of a visiting Japanese industrial titan. His hosts hope that Mr. Hosokawa can be persuaded to build a factory in their Third World backwater. Alas, in the opening sequence, just as the accompanist kisses the soprano, a ragtag band of 18 terrorists enters the vice-presidential mansion through the air conditioning ducts. Their quarry is the president, who has unfortunately stayed home to watch a favorite soap opera. And thus, from the beginning, things go awry.

Among the hostages are not only Hosokawa and Roxane Coss, the American soprano, but an assortment of Russian, Italian, and French diplomatic types. Reuben Iglesias, the diminutive and gracious vice president, quickly gets sideways of the kidnappers, who have no interest in him whatsoever. Meanwhile, a Swiss Red Cross negotiator named Joachim Messner is roped into service while vacationing. He comes and goes, wrangling over terms and demands, and the days stretch into weeks, the weeks into months.

With the omniscience of magic realism, Ann Patchett flits in and out of the hearts and psyches of hostage and terrorist alike, and in doing so reveals a profound, shared humanity. Her voice is suitably lyrical, melodic, full of warmth and compassion. Hearing opera sung live for the first time, a young priest reflects:
Never had he thought, never once, that such a woman existed, one who stood so close to God that God's own voice poured from her. How far she must have gone inside herself to call up that voice. It was as if the voice came from the center part of the earth and by the sheer effort and diligence of her will she had pulled it up through the dirt and rock and through the floorboards of the house, up into her feet, where it pulled through her, reaching, lifting, warmed by her, and then out of the white lily of her throat and straight to God in heaven.

Joined by no common language except music, the 58 international hostages and their captors forge unexpected bonds. Time stands still, priorities rearrange themselves. Ultimately, of course, something has to give, even in a novel so imbued with the rich imaginative potential of magic realism. But in a fractious world, Bel Canto remains a gentle reminder of the transcendence of beauty and love. --Victoria Jenkins

I am sort of looking for an excuse to read this book is one, and because I have heard many good things about it from other people.

Which book to start out with? Any ideas? Please post them here :D


  1. Thanks for the ideas, particularly for South America and Antarctica for which I seem to have difficulty finding books to read.

  2. You are welcome :) those two continents are also difficult for me to find books that are from there, along with Australia.

  3. What a cool project. :)
    I have never considered reading a book set in Antarctica. That's such a great idea and now I have to find more books set there!

  4. Antarctica is notoriously difficult to find books that take place there, but it can be done. Good luck with finding Antarctica books there. If it helps, there is also where did you go Bernadette wherected a family does travel to Antarctica


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