Around the World in 80 Books discussion

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message 1: by Alice (new)

Alice | 462 comments Hello! I decided to go ahead and list all my "country" books this year in this thread. I'll be concentrating mostly on filling in my remaining countries on my circumnavigator thread, but I'm bound to read some books set in "repeat" countries, so this will be a good place to keep track of them.


message 2: by Alice (last edited Feb 02, 2014 07:40AM) (new)

Alice | 462 comments USA The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee - A fun little book about books, bookstores, and book sellers. The author successfully integrates personal memoir with history and "technical" details of the book business.

1 book


message 3: by Alice (last edited Feb 02, 2014 07:40AM) (new)

Alice | 462 comments Azerbaijan Ali and Nino: A Love Story Kurban Said

2 books


message 4: by Alice (last edited Feb 02, 2014 07:40AM) (new)

Alice | 462 comments Benin The Viceroy of Ouidah Bruce Chatwin

3 books


message 5: by Alice (last edited Feb 02, 2014 07:41AM) (new)


message 7: by Alice (last edited Feb 02, 2014 07:41AM) (new)

Alice | 462 comments Grenada Under the Silk Cotton Tree: A Novel by Jean Buffong

6 books


message 8: by Alice (new)

Alice | 462 comments Iran/Israel The Baha'I Faith: The Emerging Global Religion by William Hatcher and J. Douglas Martin - An interesting introduction to this religion. From my reading, it appears to be an evolution from earlier monotheistic religions - attempting to bring them into the modern world and be compatible with the scientific method and constant questioning of today. The goals are noble, and (here's the real surprise) the people are actually taught to be really moral (i.e. no racism, sexism, classism, war, no judging others etc.). It's almost humanist, but with God at the center of it all.

The historical part is set mostly in Iran and Israel (Palestine).

7 books


message 9: by Alice (last edited Feb 12, 2014 03:06PM) (new)


message 10: by Alice (last edited Feb 12, 2014 03:06PM) (new)

Alice | 462 comments Tibet - Sky Burial: An Epic Love Story of Tibet by Xinran

9 books


message 11: by Alice (last edited Feb 12, 2014 03:06PM) (new)

Alice | 462 comments Morocco - Girls of the Factory: A Year with the Garment Workers of Morocco by M. Laetitia Cairoli - This book has a lot of information about the lives of young women and girls working in Morocco's garment factories, but it was obvious that it was written by an academic. The stories were interesting, but not told in a compelling way that would help the reader develop empathy - rather they were told in a very straight-forward "hands-off" way of the anthropological researcher. Kudos to the author for trying to step out of the academic mold so she could tell the more personal aspects of the story - but she even admits at the end that she was tired of the women involved and just wanted to get out of there. That showed in the book

10 books


message 12: by Alice (new)

Alice | 462 comments India - Buddha by Karen Armstrong - This book is partially a history of the world and India at the time of the Buddha, partially an outline of the teachings of the Buddha, and partially a biography of the man himself. Overall a good introduction to all three.

11 books


message 13: by Alice (new)

Alice | 462 comments China - Cutted Chicken in Shanghai by Sharon Winters - The author gave me a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review, so here goes . . .

What happens when the language-challenged, non-Chinese-food-eating husband of an American Buddhist with an interest in Chinese language and history gets transferred to Shanghai? This book! The author shares her diary of two years in China, her struggles with the language, her new-found love of shopping, and her friendships with some of the locals. The book doesn't contain any great, new wisdom about the Chinese culture, but is instead filled with the small, fun details that can only be picked up by living there - a fun, easy read especially good for those interested in the Chinese language and wondering what it would really be like to live there.

12 books


message 14: by Alice (new)

Alice | 462 comments Niger - Riding the Demon: On the Road in West Africa by Peter Chilson

13 books


message 15: by Alice (new)

Alice | 462 comments Portugal (and Italy, Spain, Morocco, France, England, Greece, Scotland, Turkey, USA) - A Year in the World: Journeys of a Passionate Traveller by Francis Mayes

14 books


message 16: by Alice (new)

Alice | 462 comments US, Brasil, Hungary, India, South Africa - How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas by David Bornstein - By far the best part of this book was the case studies of Ashoka fellows - people who are doing great things to change the world for the better.

15 books


message 18: by Alice (last edited Mar 18, 2014 06:42PM) (new)

Alice | 462 comments Faroes, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Vatican City, Monaco, Andorra, and Gibraltar - Dots on the Map: Visiting Europe's Accidents of History by Colin Leckey.

17 books


message 19: by Alice (new)

Alice | 462 comments Ethiopia - Beneath the Lion's Gaze by Maaza Mengiste - I can appreciate the need for people to fully process horrors in their past (and the past of their community) by writing about it; and this novel is a powerful example of that. But, I really couldn't get past all the graphic descriptions of torture. I know the author was trying to expose things that really happened, but it's not what I want to read about in my spare time. One graphic scene would really have been enough for me.

18 books


message 20: by Alice (last edited Mar 22, 2014 06:49PM) (new)

Alice | 462 comments France, US, Indonesia, Argentina, Sweden, UK, Vietnam, Mexico, Italy, Belgium, China, Germany, Russia, Ireland - Ruby Slippers: A Travel Writer's Charmed Life on the Road (enclosure with the book said they were changing the title before release to: French Ghosts, Russian Nights, and American Outlaws: Souvenirs of a Professional Vagabond) by Susan Spano - This is a good book to get ideas for itineraries to travel if you like history and places, but it really doesn't say much about the people she encountered in her travels. The people discussed most were long dead (the middle section of the book is the author visiting places where historical figures lived). Overall, I can see why people would like to read these stories in a newspaper, but I like travel books to be more in-depth and focused on surprises and people the author met along the way. She was much more interested in describing monuments and natural beauty.

19 books


message 21: by Alice (new)

Alice | 462 comments China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey - Shadow of the Silk Road by Colin Thubron

20 books


message 22: by Alice (new)

Alice | 462 comments Italy, USA - Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter - I would have liked for this book to be more Italy and less Hollywood, but I enjoyed it never-the-less. It does strike me that the only characters who look back on their lives with no regrets were the Hollywood producer (because he has no conscience), and the Italian innkeeper (because he did the right thing).

21 books


message 23: by Alice (new)

Alice | 462 comments Guadaloupe - Crossing the Mangrove by Maryse Conde.

22 books


message 24: by Alice (new)

Alice | 462 comments Madagascar - Madagascar: The Eighth Continent by Peter Tyson

23 books


message 25: by Alice (last edited Apr 25, 2014 12:52PM) (new)

Alice | 462 comments St. Lucia (and pretty much all the other Caribbean Islands, Canada, US, Spain, England, Colombia, Mexico, Panama, etc.) - Caribbean by James Michener

24 books


message 26: by Alice (new)

Alice | 462 comments Grenada (and other places in Caribbean), Canada, USA - An Embarrassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Interlude by Ann Vanderhoof

25 books


message 27: by Alice (new)

Alice | 462 comments Euskadi (Basque Region of Spain and France) - The Basque History of the World: The Story of a Nation by Mark Kurlansky

26 books


message 28: by Alice (new)

Alice | 462 comments Saudi Arabia - Girls of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea - This was actually more engaging than I thought it would be. Yes, it was very middle-school, obsessed with boys, self-absorbed, etc. But, I think that's what happens when women are valued only for who they marry and the sons they can produce. It's not dissimilar to the time of Jane Austen when English girls of the same class obsessed endlessly over the same thing. This is also a good example of the predictable results of having parents force their children to marry against their will (as opposed to the predictable results of having people in their late teens/early 20's choose their own mates, but I digress).

27 books


message 30: by Alice (new)

Alice | 462 comments Japan - A Tale for the Time Beingby Ruth Ozeki - There were some things I really liked about this book: the discussion of zen buddhism, multi-generational similarities and differences, relating it all to physics at the end. Plus, it was written well and pulled me in. But, I really don't like books where everthing sucks. Modern Japanese society is protrayed in only a negative way - nothing good at all, as though bullying, suicide, and prostitution are the sum total of today's Japan. Would have liked it better if it was at least a little more balanced.

29 books


message 31: by Alice (new)

Alice | 462 comments Sao Tome & Principe - Equador by Miguel Sousa Tavares

30 books


message 32: by Alice (new)

Alice | 462 comments Japan, Korea, China, Turkmenistan, Turkey, Greece, Sicily, Spain, US - Traveling the 38th Parallel: A Water Line around the World by David and Janet Carle

31 books


message 33: by Alice (last edited Aug 13, 2014 07:28AM) (new)

Alice | 462 comments Malta - A Dead Man in Malta by Michael Pearce

32 books


message 34: by Alice (last edited Aug 13, 2014 07:28AM) (new)

Alice | 462 comments Honduras - Don't Be Afraid, Gringo by Elvia Alvarado

33 books


message 35: by Alice (last edited Aug 13, 2014 07:28AM) (new)

Alice | 462 comments Faroe Islands (and a little in Iceland) - Far Afield by Susanna Kaysen

34 books


message 36: by Alice (last edited Aug 13, 2014 07:28AM) (new)

Alice | 462 comments Aruba - An Island Away by David Putkowski

35 books


message 37: by Alice (last edited Aug 13, 2014 07:28AM) (new)

Alice | 462 comments Fiji, New Zealand, Malaysia, Italy, Canada, US, Bali, Morocco - Kite Strings of the Southern Cross: A Woman's Travel Odyssey by Laurie Gough

36 books


message 38: by Alice (last edited Aug 13, 2014 07:29AM) (new)

Alice | 462 comments North Korea - Without You, There Is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea's Elite by Suki Kim - I received this book from Goodreads Giveaways - thanks!

This was a pretty unique look at North Korea - rather than talking to defectors, the author found a way to live there for several months during the last days of Kim Jong-il's life. But, she ends up being trapped at the University where she teaches with only organized trips to the "outside world" in and around Pyongyang. Yet, this ends up showing her what life is like in this crazy, reclusive, hyper-controlled country. She is frustrated by her inability to really get to know the students, but realizes that in a country so full of suspicion nobody ever gets to know each other. She is frustrated by her lack of freedom of movement, but realizes that the citizens have the same restrictions. She's frustrated by the lack of access to information, but yes, you guessed it, realizes that citizens never get reliable information and don't even know what the word "truth" means. This is especially interesting since she is in contact with the sons of the elite - not the type of people who escape. Recommended for anyone who wants to understand North Korea better.

37 books


message 39: by Alice (last edited Aug 13, 2014 07:29AM) (new)

Alice | 462 comments Iceland - Last Rituals by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir

38 books


message 40: by Alice (new)

Alice | 462 comments Guyana - Wild Coast: Travels on South America's Untamed Edge by John Gimlette

39 books


message 41: by Alice (last edited Aug 27, 2014 02:40PM) (new)

Alice | 462 comments Mostly USA, but some background of the kids lives in Sudan, Congo, Kosovo, Gambia, Afghanistan, Liberia, Bosnia and Iraq - Outcasts United: A Refugee Team, an American Town by Warren St. John - This book was good, and I learned a lot about the refugee experience in America, but it should have gone into more detail about the refugees and their stories of adjustment to life in the US; those were by far the best parts. The descriptions of the soccer games were really too detailed. And, in the end, structuring the narrative around the soccer season fell flat for me.

40 books


message 42: by Alice (new)

Alice | 462 comments Mostly USA, but a little in Swaziland - Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives by Thomas French

41 books


message 43: by Alice (new)

Alice | 462 comments Marshall Islands - Surviving Paradise: One Year on a Disappearing Island by Peter Rudiak-Gould

42 books


message 44: by Alice (new)

Alice | 462 comments St. Kitts - A State of Independence by Caryl Phillips

43 books


message 45: by Alice (new)

Alice | 462 comments Liechtenstein, San Marino, Mount Athos, Isle of Man, Luxembourg, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Andorra, Malta, and Monaco - Little Is The Light by Vitali Vitaliev

44 books


message 46: by Alice (new)

Alice | 462 comments Peru, USA, and little in Costa Rica - High Moon Over the Amazon by Patricia Chapple Wright - A really interesting look at the passion and dedication necessary to become a world-class scientist. She explained a lot about monkey behavior - but it never felt like a textbook. Great story!

45 books


message 47: by Alice (new)

Alice | 462 comments Nigeria - Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

46 books


message 48: by Alice (last edited Oct 05, 2014 05:03PM) (new)

Alice | 462 comments All over the middle east, central asia, India, Mali, Somalia, and maybe China - The Adventures of Ibn Battuta: A Muslim Traveler of the Fourteenth Century, Revised Edition, with a New Preface by Ibn Battuta and Ross E. Dunn - This book is not a retelling/translation of Ibn Battuta's book: rather it gives the context of the time and events in the Muslim world with highlights of the traveller's tale. Very well done.

47 books


message 49: by Alice (new)

Alice | 462 comments US, Canada, and China - Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them by Donovan Hohn - Kind of disappointing - the author includes lots of interesting information, but doesn't seem to understand the concept of relevance. There's just too much there - making it overly long and tedious (hey, just like Moby Dick). It would have been a good book at about 1/4 the length.

48 books


message 50: by Alice (new)

Alice | 462 comments Montserrat, England, and France - At Home with Miss Vanesa by E.A. Markham

49 books


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