Another friendly reminder that we’re in the midst of our Summer Reading contest. Win a cool prize just for commenting on a book you’ve read since June 6. Fill out a form, or comment on our Summer Reading page or the Goodreads group page.
This year’s Summer Reading theme is Novel Destinations, so we’ve been visiting each of the continents. Our next stop: Asia!
1. Just so you don’t have to leave the comfort of your recliner (or hammock, or lawn chair, or whatever…), we’ve created a list of good Armchair Traveler reads for Asia.
2. I can personally recommend the following titles for a look at this vast continent:
- City of Thieves by David Benioff – Trail along with Lev and Kolya as they attempt to find a dozen eggs for a Soviet colonel during the Siege of Leningrad.
- Burma Chronicles by Guy Delisle – A graphic novel detailing the author’s experience as a “househusband” while living in the police state of Burma.
- The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama – Mr. Ali opens a marriage bureau after retirement, to help clients find love and happiness.
- A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini – Two women endure life with their brutal husband under Taliban rule, while developing a long-lasting friendship.
- The Piano Tuner by Daniel Mason – A young man ventures into the Burmese jungle to tune a piano, and its beauty, danger, and people enchant him in ways he couldn’t have imagined.
- Pearl of China by Anchee Min – The fictional story of Pearl S. Buck and her childhood best friend, Willow.
- The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell – It’s 1799, and Jacob plans to earn his fortune in Nagasaki, but finds life in feudal Japan political and dangerous.
- The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa – The Professor has a short-term memory problem and looks to his housekeeper and her 10-year-old son to help him.
- The Commoner by John Burnham Schwartz – Haruko, a commoner, becomes the wife of the Crown Prince of Japan, and must learn to meet the rigid restrictions placed on royalty.
- Stalin’s Ghost by Martin Cruz Smith – Although this is the 6th in the Arkady Renko series, it’s one of the best – Russian police detective Renko is investigating reports of the “appearance” of Stalin in the Moscow Metro, which leads him to the more contemporary “ghosts” of Chechnya.
3. If you like historical fiction, check out one of these novels based on famous figures:
- Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment by Deepak Chopra
- The Tale of Murasaki by Liza Dalby
- The Red Queen by Margaret Drabble (Hyegyong, Crown Princess of Korea)
- Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther by Ginger Garrett
- Genghis: Birth of an Empire by Conn Iggulden (first in the “Conquerors” series)
- Memoirs of Pontius Pilate: A Novel by James R. Mills
- Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min
- Alexander and Alestria by Sa Shan
- Chang and Eng by Darin Strauss
- Shadow Princess by Indu Sundaresan (Shahjahan, Empress Mumtaz Mahal)
4. Pick up one of these for a good look at the various ways history has shaped Asia:
- Natasha’s Dance: A Cultural History of Russia by Orlando Figes
- Lords of the Horizons: A History of the Ottoman Empire by Jason Goodwin
- When Asia Was the World by Stewart Gordon
- Southeast Asia: A Concise History by Mary F. Somers Heidhues
- India: A History by John Keay
- Envy of the Gods: Alexander the Great’s Ill-Fated Journey Across Asia by John Prevas
- The History of the Central Asian Republics by Peter Roudik
- Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by J. McIver Weatherford
- The Silk Road: Two Thousand Years in the Heart of Asia by Frances Wood
5. Wanting a classic? Here are some to dig in to:
- Arabian Nights
- The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
- The Analects by Confucius
- Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- The Prophet by Khalil Gibran
- Gilgamesh: A New English Version by Stephen Mitchell
- The Tale of Genji by Shikibu Murasaki
- Hiroshima by John Hersey
- The Art of War by Sun Tzu
- War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy