Let me explain myself. I watched quite a few YouTubers lately doing the Reading Diversely Tag, which is basically where you take each of the six continents (we're not counting Antarctica here because, hello, there's only one type of Penguin books, am I right?) and say your favourite book from that continent and also another book that you would like to read. And as I got to thinking, I realised that I really have not been reading diversely at all!
So I thought I'd do the tag on here to show just how woefully lacking (at least geographically) my reading has been, as well as hopefully raise a bit of awareness of this issue and get others to be more purposeful with their reading choices. The aim of this post is certainly not to make anyone feel guilty about their reading though! Everyone is entitled to make their own book choices and shouldn't feel like anyone is judging them for the type of books they read. I only want to provide a little food for thought, as well as spur myself on to pick up something a little different for a change!
Anyway, without further ado, here are the books I've chosen for this tag:
Let's start here since it's where I live! For my book recommendation, I'm going to choose The Diary of Anne Frank. Not only do I think this is a really interesting perspective that is not often seen (i.e. the actual words of a young teenager, not just about her, not to mention the uniqueness of her situation), but I also think it is really important as a piece of human history.
While I think I have probably read the most books from this continent, they are almost all from Britain, so I definitely need to branch out a little (a lot!). While there are loads and loads that I need to read, I'm going to go with this book from my autumn TBR list, The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. It was originally written in Czech and is set in Prague, which is a place I haven't read about before, so should be really interesting!
Onto our neighbouring continent: Asia! This one was a real struggle I definitely have not read nearly enough books from this continent! The only one I could think of was The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan. This book is set partly in China and partly in the US, and I enjoyed the parts set in China much more. They were just so poignant and beautiful and heartbreaking! I think this might actually be the ONLY book that I have read set in Asia by an Asian author (though she is Asian American). I have also read A Passage to India, which is beautiful and nuanced in its own way, but it's written by a British author, so I'm sure the perspective is different. Another Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club, is also firmly on my TBR list so I shall have to get to that one shortly.
I had a really hard time choosing this, but I think I'm going to go with The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee. I've heard good things about this so hopefully it will live up to them. I would also love to read The Kite Runner, as well as more books by female Asian authors.
This is another one where I really struggled to find any books I had read at all. I could only think of two by the same author, and I read one of them so long ago that I don't have a clue what happens. So for my recommendation I'm going to have to go, by default, with Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I really did enjoy this book and it was so interesting to get the main character's perspective when she moves to the USA and then back to Nigeria. I would love to read Adichie's other work, Half of a Yellow Sun, as well.
I think for my book I would like to read I'm going to have to go with another one on my TBR, which is Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. I already own this book so I should be able to get to it relatively soon. But, to be honest, I just really need to get to more books from this continent!
I've read quite a lot from this continent too, though overwhelmingly from the USA. For this recommendation, I've decided to go with one of the first books I reviewed on this blog and a book that has really stuck with me since then, which is Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. For me, this book really highlights the purpose of this reading diversely tag, since it offers a perspective that is quite alien to my own, and shows a different side of US culture.
The book that I would like to get to is another one which is (I think) on my autumn TBR list, and that is The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. This is the story of a boy from a Dominican family living in the US, which I'm hoping will show me another facet of immigrant life and subculture in America.
This continent was another difficult/easy one for me, difficult because I really haven't read many books from here and am not really familiar with the history or culture of these countries, but easy because I have only read one book from this continent, so choosing one to recommend was a no-brainer! The one I've chosen is One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Márquez, which I read earlier in the summer. I had mixed feelings about this book, not because it was bad in anyway - I thought it was beautiful and haunting! But the reason I had mixed feelings is because it made me feel really unsettled and strange, simply because it exposed the fragility and temporary nature of human life. I think it is really important to be shaken up by books once in a while, but the sensation is not necessarily enjoyable. I would, however, highly recommend this book to anyone!
Choosing the book I would like to read next was a little more tricky. I have not really heard of any other authors apart from Márquez so I had to resort to googling South American authors for recommendations. I found quite a few lists of books to choose from, but what struck me the most was that on the vast majority of these lists (some of them with 15, 20 or even 50 books on them) only one of the featured authors was female! I found this pretty shocking, and it has made me even more determined to find more books by women from this continent. But in the meantime, I will go with the only one I seemed to find from a superficial search, which was The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende. I know next to nothing about this book, but am excited to get my teeth into it.
This was another continent I had trouble with (surprise surprise!), and the only book I could think of was The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, an Australian author. I am almost hesitant to count this book because it doesn't take place in Australia, but I don't have anything else, so it'll have to do.
Once again, I was determined to find something by a female author to go on my TBR pile, and once again I really struggled. I also wanted something from a country other than Australia and New Zealand (not that there's anything wrong with those places of course! I just wanted something from a completely new place that I'd never read about before!). While the majority of books I found were actually by English (or other western) explorers who settled in the South Pacific (which is also an interesting perspective but not exactly what I was looking for!), I managed to find the book Where We Once Belonged by Sia Figiel, a female writer from Samoa. I literally know nothing about this book or author, but I'm hoping to get hold of this book soon so hopefully I'll learn something new!
So there you have it! Six continents with six recommendations and six new (or old) books on my TBR!
Basically, doing this tag has made me think about the books that I read, and has made me really excited to try out books that are from a perspective completely different to my own.
And to get me started, since my birthday's coming up (and my mum's been asking me for present suggestions), I thought I'd make a wishlist on Amazon with a few more diverse choices on there. Not all of these are 'diverse' reads, but I have tried to incorporate more of them than I would have done otherwise. Also, I got a little carried away clicking stuff (what's new?) so the list is a little long... But anyway, here it is!
- Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
- The Giver by Lois Lowry
- Howard's End by E.M. Forster
- The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
- The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
- "Middleman" and other stories by Bharati Mukherjee
- A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
- The Secret History by Donna Tartt
- Ways of Sunlight by Sam Selvon
- Look We Have Coming to Dover! by Daljit Nagra
- The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee
- Where We Once Belonged by Sie Figiel
- A Grain of Wheat by Ngugi Wa Thiong'o
- The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
- Stardust by Neil Gaiman
- The Princess Bride by William Goldman
- Just Kids by Patti Smith
- Aya: Life in Yop City by Marguerite Abouet
Phew! What a list!
If you want to do the Reading Diversely Tag, then consider yourself officially tagged! Leave a link to your post below and I'll be sure to visit and comment :)
Are you bothered about reading books from around the world? What's the most exotic book (i.e. from the most unusual/far-away country) you've ever read?
What do you think of my wishlist? What books are on your wishlist at the moment??? Let me know in the comments :)