January Reading Challenge

I am an ESL teacher to my core. My students come from Mexico, El Salvador, Italy, Russia, Vietnam, China, Korea– all over the world. I love the diversity of my students. I love hearing about their traditions and their beliefs. Often they view the world differently than Americans do. They certainly view American’s differently than we do ourselves. It has changed who I am for the better.

Not everyone has the privilege of being a teacher of such diverse populations, but there is no better way to learn how others think and view the world than by reading what they write. So this month I recommend that you read at least one book that is written by someone from another country or someone from a different culture than your own. I am a white, 17th generation American. (I descend from the Brewster family of the Mayflower.) So I need to find a non-american culture book to read.

My Recommendations

I love Rick Riordan books, as does my son. I love the author all the more because he is championing previously unpublished writers which tell creative stories based on a variety of cultures. This program is called Rick Riordan Presents. http://rickriordan.com/rick-riordan-presents/

I currently have Storm Runner on my shelf to read right now. Anu Shah is at our school library. I plan to read that one too.

Earlier this year I read an amazing fantasy story called Akata Witch. The author, Nnedi Ikorafor, is Nigeria-American and is currently a professor at University at Buffalo, New York. If Science Fiction is more to your liking she has a Novella (short novel) called Binti. Both stories are fascinating and beautifully written.

Children of Blood and Bone is another story on my to be read list. Some of my students have read it and love it, although I have been cautioned that it gets a bit gory at times, so maybe not for the faint of heart. In my grad school class we had to make a book trailer and my classmate did a beautiful job making one for this book.


Another video by a classmate is about a book called When Dimple Met Rishi. This one is a romance story.

Let me know if the videos don’t work. I’m not sure how compatible Adobe Spark is with WordPress. If they don’t work, I’ll see if I can get my classmates to upload them to YouTube.

I enjoyed reading The Alchemist by Paulo Choelho many years ago. It is a short lovely read.

If you like hard science fiction, then the Three Body Problem is an excellent book for you. I can’t remember what enticed me to read this book, but I picked it up thinking it was a murder mystery. Turns out the 3 body problem is actually a space thing. It is extremely difficult to predict the orbit of 3 heavenly bodies in space when they are tangled up in each other’s gravity. So this book is about a scientist playing a game which contains this very problem. Only this game is merely a vetting process for aliens. Needless to say, I learned a lot about physics and mathematics. But there is also a plot thread that speaks about the Tienanmen Square protests, so I learned about Chinese history as they view it. The author is Liu Cixin and Ken Liu is the translator. (This is an adult book due to difficulty. I can’t remember if there were any inappropriate scenes in it. I believe it does contain cuss words.)

For more books, try this list on GoodReads. https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/5534.Non_American_books_that_every_American_should_read

If you like classics, here are some that have been translated into English https://bookriot.com/2017/11/22/classics-in-translation/

If you want me to help you find a book you’d like send me an email and I’ll see if I can find one you’d like. I’ll test my library lady skills! *smiles*

I’d love to hear what books you are reading this month.