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Games, Questions, & Challenges > Weekly Question #7: What One Book From Your Country Should Everyone Read?

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message 1: by Amy, Queen of Time (new)

Amy | 2210 comments Mod
Our group is full of people from around the world. We tend to gravitate towards writers from our own country. So here's a chance to suggest a book from your country for those of us who are not from your country. This does not have to be a time travel novel.


message 2: by Reva (last edited Jul 25, 2014 10:14PM) (new)

Reva (revans) | 38 comments Canadian Books and Authors:  Some of our best

Alice Munro.    Passion 
Margaret Atwood. The Handmaid's Tale
Cory Doctorow.     Little brother
Pierre Berton.     The Last Spike
Margaret Lawrence   The Diviners
Yann Martel    Life of Pi
Mordechai Richler   The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz
Michael Ondaatje    The English Patient
Lucy Maud Montgomery.   Anne of Green Gables
Robertson Davies.   The Manticore 
Joseph Boyden.    The Orenda
Carol Shields.  The stone Diaries
Rohinton Mistry.   Such a Long Journey
Leonard Cohen.    Various Songs and poetry
Farley Mowat.     Never Cry Wolf


message 3: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl (cherylllr) | 855 comments R., I know it's hard to pick one, but I'm curious, which would you recommend to the widest audience? Which one book would you recommend to everyone?

And please don't say Robertson Davies - I tried but couldn't get into his stuff. ;)

Looking at your list more carefully - it seems that so much is dark, serious, much is even dystopian. Are any of the works lighter, more enjoyable?

(Or, maybe that's the nature of 'books everyone should read' -- I'm going to start another thread.)


message 4: by Amy, Queen of Time (new)

Amy | 2210 comments Mod
I was thinking in terms of books that emote the essence of a country's culture. I don't think that's an easy task. Everything I know about some countries, I've learned from their fiction. But do I have a skewed view of the culture because of these books?

I just visited my extended family this week in a very culturally different part if the USA. I've lived away longer than I lived there and get to see the culture through fresh eyes when my husband visits with me. But I wonder how much of the culture is my family's particular peculiarities and how much is the true culture of the Deep South of the USA.

Anyhow, I say all this to say that I can't think of the perfect novel for the USA of the present. But I think that an important novel is still The Grapes of Wrath. Strangely, it was an elderly Japanese gentleman who introduced me to this book. He actually came to Oklahoma because he was doing his Masters thesis on it. I helped with the editing process, and the book and thesis turned my world inside out ... in a good way. I like that this was the book that, for him, was America.


message 5: by Reva (last edited Jul 26, 2014 09:01PM) (new)

Reva (revans) | 38 comments Amy,

Canada thrives on and celebrates its cultural diversity. We have been trying to define what makes us Canadian for 147 years without much success. There IS NO ONE book that gives us a picture of Canada since it is spread over such an immense geographical territory and reflects the cultures of so many countries.

Cheryl as for the light stuff look to the comedians Dan Ackroyd, John Candy, Maureen O'Hara, Dave Thomas, Eugene Levy -- the alumnae from Saturday Night Live. And let's not forget Rich Little, Michael j. Fox, Jim Carey, Howie Mandel, Luba Goy, Rick Green, Tom Green, Dave Broadfoot, Rick Mercer, Lorne Michaels, Rick Moranis, Mike Meyers, Leslie Nielson, Mort Sahl, William Shatner, David Steinberg, Martin Short and many, many more who have written most of their own material.

Oh and let's not forget some of our humourous columnists like Gary Lautens, Marsha Boulton and Arthur Black. Eh?


message 6: by Mark (new)

Mark Speed (markspeed) | 131 comments The one book (series) that would be completely representative of the UK would be the Harry Potter series. Honestly, it's really like that here - all filmed on location, if you remember.


message 7: by Amy, Queen of Time (new)

Amy | 2210 comments Mod
Mark wrote: "The one book (series) that would be completely representative of the UK would be the Harry Potter series. Honestly, it's really like that here - all filmed on location, if you remember."

Ha.


message 8: by Holly (new)

Holly | 8 comments R. wrote: "Canadian Books and Authors:  Some of our best

Alice Munro.    Passion 
Margaret Atwood. The Handmaid's Tale
Cory Doctorow.     Little brother
Pierre Berton.     The Last Spike
Margaret Lawrence   ..."



Great list, can't get enough of my Can Lit being a good Canadian myself. Should add Anne-Marie Mcdonald's Fall On Your Knees. This country is full of great writers, and poets. Way too hard to pick one all defining book to define this very diverse country.


message 9: by Mark (new)

Mark Speed (markspeed) | 131 comments Amy wrote: "Mark wrote: "The one book (series) that would be completely representative of the UK would be the Harry Potter series. Honestly, it's really like that here - all filmed on location, if you remember..."

I was having lunch at a conference in the US a decade ago and talking with some senior folks in the Pharma industry. Everyone believed that it was the norm for British kids go to boarding school because that's what's seen in the majority of stories we 'export'. I guess that's the nature of fiction: we tend to enjoy the extraordinary. Who wants to read about a kid who goes home to a normal family at the end of every day?


message 10: by Amy, Queen of Time (new)

Amy | 2210 comments Mod
Mark wrote: "Everyone believed that it was the norm for British kids go to boarding school because that's what's seen in the majority of stories we 'export'. ..."

My Irish co-worker went to boarding school. Thus, she perpetuated my preconception. But she explained that that was really the only choice for her and her siblings because they came from such a small community that couldn't support a school on its own. I have to say, though, that with fiction's treatment of British nannies and boarding schools, one wonders why people there even have children. Of course, Monty Python's Meaning of Life has a song that makes the answer to that question crystal clear ... ;-)


message 11: by Mark (new)

Mark Speed (markspeed) | 131 comments Amy wrote: "Mark wrote: "Everyone believed that it was the norm for British kids go to boarding school because that's what's seen in the majority of stories we 'export'. ..."

My Irish co-worker went to board..."

As it happens, I went to boarding school. It was a truly dreadful, life-trashing experience. The plus side was that it gave me the time and boredom to imagine and then write to escape.

Quite a lot of kids in remote communities in Scotland (where I'm from originally) have no option but to go to boarding school. When I look at parenting here compared to my generation the difference is incredible. Parenting is an entire way of life. They're not allowed to take risks; nor are they allowed to be unoccupied or bored for a moment. Doris Lessing said (I paraphrase) that the greatest gift you can give a child is boredom. I think she was right to a certain extent.


message 12: by Michele (new)

Michele | 144 comments Amy wrote: "I was thinking in terms of books that emote the essence of a country's culture..."

For America, I'm sure people would say Flannery O'Connor or William Faulkner or Mark Twain or maybe Laura Ingalls Wilder for the American pioneer experience, or any number of others -- there are so many good ones.

But for books that capture the essence of modern America I would vote for The Stand. The tale paints an excellent portrait of the American character -- both the good and the bad -- and it's utterly impossible to imagine the story taking place anywhere other than America.


message 13: by Mark (new)

Mark Speed (markspeed) | 131 comments Michele wrote: "Amy wrote: "I was thinking in terms of books that emote the essence of a country's culture..."

For America, I'm sure people would say Flannery O'Connor or William Faulkner or Mark Twain or maybe L..."


Amy, that's over 1,100 pages!


message 14: by Amy, Queen of Time (new)

Amy | 2210 comments Mod
Mark wrote: "Amy, that's over 1,100 pages! ..."

Why are you telling me this? I can't be held responsible for Stephen King's loquaciousness just because he's from the USA and I started this question thread! Ha. I'd read far more Stephen King novels if it weren't for their heft.


message 15: by Mark (new)

Mark Speed (markspeed) | 131 comments I guess if nothing else a hardback copy would be good resistance training. Maybe they should get senior citizens reading King to keep fit?


message 16: by Duane (new)

Duane (tduaneparkeryahoocom) | 28 comments Amy wrote: "I was thinking in terms of books that emote the essence of a country's culture. I don't think that's an easy task. Everything I know about some countries, I've learned from their fiction. But do I ..."

Willa Cather wrote several novels that chronicle the history of Midwest America, the people, their backgrounds, the culture that helped shape middle America into what it is today. The two that I would recommend are My Antonia and One of Ours (Pulitzer Prize winner).


message 17: by Amy, Queen of Time (new)

Amy | 2210 comments Mod
Mark wrote: "I guess if nothing else a hardback copy would be good resistance training. Maybe they should get senior citizens reading King to keep fit?"

The large print versions are most likely 2200 pages and 3 pounds each, so that would make for a good workout.


message 18: by Amy, Queen of Time (new)

Amy | 2210 comments Mod
Duane wrote: "Amy wrote: "I was thinking in terms of books that emote the essence of a country's culture. I don't think that's an easy task. Everything I know about some countries, I've learned from their fictio..."

Great recommendation. :-)


message 19: by Heather(Gibby) (new)

Heather(Gibby) (heather-gibby) | 421 comments R. wrote: "Canadian Books and Authors:  Some of our best

Alice Munro.    Passion 
Margaret Atwood. The Handmaid's Tale
Cory Doctorow.     Little brother
Pierre Berton.     The Last Spike
Margaret Lawrence   ..."


Great suggestions: I would pick Joseph Boyden, The Orenda


message 20: by Heather(Gibby) (new)

Heather(Gibby) (heather-gibby) | 421 comments Amy wrote: "Our group is full of people from around the world. We tend to gravitate towards writers from our own country. So here's a chance to suggest a book from your country for those of us who are not fro..."

Its funny, Amy-I have to make an effort to read books by Canadians, it does not come "automatically" to me at all. I am trying to read books from around the world right now, and so far in 2014 have hit on 20 different countries so far. Trying to make a conscious effort to keep away from the big American Publishing Houses.


message 21: by Santiago (new)

Santiago (marthis) | 4 comments In my opinion the best uruguayan writer is Horacio Quiroga so I recommend to read some of his books, my favourite is this.
The Decapitated Chicken and Other Stories


message 22: by Amy, Queen of Time (new)

Amy | 2210 comments Mod
Heather wrote: "Amy wrote: "Our group is full of people from around the world. We tend to gravitate towards writers from our own country. So here's a chance to suggest a book from your country for those of us who..."

I ran across a reference recently to a blogger who was attempting to read a book from every country in the world in a year. I thought it was a nice challenge. There are so many countries in the world that are absolute unknowns with which we have no points of reference. I work for an intensive English program and meet students from all over the world. Yet, sometimes my only knowledge of their countries is to have scanned Google Images for their city name when I receive their applications and to have clicked around a bit on Google Maps. I had a conversation with a student about her home country of Gabon a few days ago that left me astounded. Another conversation with an applicant from Cabinda, Angola, was eye-opening as well. Sometimes authors don't dare write the truth without worry of endangering their lives. But the sad thing is that sometimes they do write, and we're not listening. We get wrapped up in the literature of our own culture or cultures similar to our own and don't branch out beyond that.

I say all that to ask what treasures you've found from other countries this year?


message 23: by Amy, Queen of Time (new)

Amy | 2210 comments Mod
Santiago wrote: "In my opinion the best uruguayan writer is Horacio Quiroga so I recommend to read some of his books, my favourite is this.
The Decapitated Chicken and Other Stories"


I've sent myself a Kindle Sample to remind myself to read it. It sounds absolutely fascinating.


message 24: by Heather(Gibby) (new)

Heather(Gibby) (heather-gibby) | 421 comments Santiago wrote: "In my opinion the best uruguayan writer is Horacio Quiroga so I recommend to read some of his books, my favourite is this.
The Decapitated Chicken and Other Stories"


Thanks for the suggestion, I haven't read anything from Uruguay yet


message 25: by Reva (new)

Reva (revans) | 38 comments Amy wrote: "Mark wrote: "I guess if nothing else a hardback copy would be good resistance training. Maybe they should get senior citizens reading King to keep fit?"

The large print versions are most likely 22..."



When my eyesight changed, I thanked the heavens for my iPad The back lighting and being able to increase the font size were the best features plus it only weighs 1.5 lbs. -- no hardship at all and can carry all Stephen King novels.


message 26: by Mark (new)

Mark Speed (markspeed) | 131 comments R. wrote: "Amy wrote: "Mark wrote: "I guess if nothing else a hardback copy would be good resistance training. Maybe they should get senior citizens reading King to keep fit?"

The large print versions are mo..."


I guess Google Glass or similar will be the next thing. The sad thing about e-readers is that if you see someone on your commute who's obviously reading something enjoyable, you can't sneak a peek at the cover.


message 27: by Amy, Queen of Time (new)

Amy | 2210 comments Mod
Mark wrote: "The sad thing about e-readers is that if you see someone on your commute who's obviously reading something enjoyable, you can't sneak a peek at the cover. ..."

Or maybe that's a good thing in some cases. :-)

I have to say that the Kindle paperwhite has certainly made reading more accessible for me. I had lasik in the early 2000s which, while being wonderful in every other way, left me unable to read smaller print or look at bright screens because of eye strain issues. That was especially tough on my sci-fi reading until the wonder of the paperwhite.

I like the privacy of an e-reader, though. I don't want someone to spy on what I'm reading. I hate people looking over my shoulder. I don't even like buying books in book stores for the same reason. I picked up 2 large science tomes at a used bookstore this weekend and narrowly avoided 50 questions about why in the world I would want them. I was very happy that he put them in a large bag for me to carry down the sidewalk. Ah. Sweet reading anonymity. :-)


message 28: by David (new)

David Haws | 102 comments America is probably even less monolithic than Canada, so let me make a couple suggestions based on regions where I’ve lived:

Inner Mountain West: Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose (or the Mary Hallock Foote memoir that inspired it).

California: John Steinbeck, In Dubious Battle (maybe if you prefer genre: Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep or Philip Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep) although you'd have to de-tweak it, if you want it to help you understand the state.


message 29: by Timothy (new)

Timothy Michael Lewis (timothymichaellewis) | 101 comments Hitchhiker guide to the Galaxy for the UK?


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