Global Lit

Global Lit Must Haves: 2017

Books make excellent traveling companions. I can tell you where I was for many of my favorite adventures in literature.  They whisk us away into new worlds without jet lag, travel illness or language barriers. My deep love for global literature stems from the the way authors lead us into the heart of their experience. Through story, we access the interworking of custom and culture. Here are my global lit must haves for adults & young minds.

Young Readers (or those young at heart)

The Red Pencil – Andrea Davis Pickney

Amira, our hero uses poetry and illustrations to catapult the reader into her culture, dreams, family, geo-political conflict, all while preserving the innocence of a young reader.  Pulsing with rhythm, laughter and reality, this book offers the complete saturation of a deep cross-cultural experience.  A School Library Journal Book of the Year it gets pride of place on my shelf for diversity, handling of conflict and unique engagement for the reader. A great book for girls.

Inside Out and Back Again – Thannha Lai

“By 2010, Texas had the second-largest Vietnamese population in the U.S. — 210,000. The Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington area had the fourth-largest Vietnamese population among U.S. metro areas, with 71,839 people, according to the 2010 census.”   Dallas Morning News, 2015

Inspired by the authors journey from Vietnam to Alabama.  This tender, colorful story, brings home much of the coming of age/refugee experience of our local Vietnamese-Americans.

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie –  Alan Bradley

A rollicking delight of mystery and chemistry. Eleven year old, Flavia De Luce can’t help but stumble over dead bodies in her post-WWII English village. Using large words and an even larger imagination she moves through painful realities of growing up without a mother by throwing herself into adventure and science.  Flavia is a delight to listen to when it’s read by Jayne Entwistle who captures her free spirit, scientific vocabulary and raw gumption. I read six before I introduced them to my science, loving pre-teen, partially to make sure they were appropriate but mainly because I enjoyed them so much.  I think if Agatha Christie had written at 11 she would have sounded just like Flavia De Luce.

Number the Stars – Lowis Lowry

Lowry set the standard for middle-grade geopolitical fiction. Capturing the angst and outcome of European WWII while preserving the innocence that is vital to middle grade fiction. Lowry taught us all how to capture the heart, inform and empower the imagination of children. This is my favorite, modern, middle-grade, historical-fiction book of all times. A work that lets the parent guide the conversation but transports the reader into the essence of the complex moral problems facing Europe, without fully revealing the horrors of the Holocaust.

A Single Shard – Linda Sue Park

“In this Newbery Medal-winning book set in 12th century Korea, Tree-ear, a 13-year-old orphan, lives under a bridge in Ch’ulp’o, a potters’ village famed for delicate celadon ware. He has become fascinated with the potter’s craft; he wants nothing more than to watch master potter Min at work, and he dreams of making a pot of his own someday. When Min takes Tree-ear on as his helper, Tree-ear is elated — until he finds obstacles in his path: the backbreaking labor of digging and hauling clay, Min’s irascible temper, and his own ignorance. But Tree-ear is determined to prove himself — even if it means taking a long, solitary journey on foot to present Min’s work in the hope of a royal commission . . . even if it means arriving at the royal court with nothing to show but a single celadon shard.”  -Book jacket

Masterful story telling and deep culturally empathy transport our reader across time and space into the adventure of Tree-ear. Hard-work, loyalty and the intricacies of Korean culture are fleshed out in this big hearted tale of dreams vs. reality.

Adult Travelers:

Born A Crime – Trevor Noah

A fan of Trevor Noah’s, South African stand-up comedy, I bought this book on Audible simply to hear this gifted story-teller weave me a tale of hilarity when cultures collide. In reality, I found a gripping, intense account of the modern South African history of racial apartheid told with humor, honesty and heart.  Trevor Noah is the product of a Swiss father and a Xhosa mother. Their relationship is a crime and his birth defies all the rules. The result is a deeply moving, gut-wrenchingly funny, take on real-life triumphing over human cruelty.  Warning-some language, but in keeping with the intensity of the story. A must read for 2017!

No 1. Ladies Detective Agency – Alexander McCall Smith

Listening to Precious Ramotoswe’s adventures throughout Botswana is like being transported back to idyllic Southern Africa. I started brewing bush tee and telling my children about my halcyon days in Swaziland, Africa.  Open the book and look straight into a neighborhood much like my own. The dynamic accents, colors, customs and rhythm of life is knit together in a Murder She Wrote straight from Africa. This was my African experience complete with nosy neighbors and female ingenuity. A delight for every arm-chair traveler and mystery buff.

I Let You Go – Clare Mackintosh

A tragic moment robs a mother of her child and locks several strangers into a complex thriller that will interweave lives as they seek justice and redemption from the heart of London to the wilds of the Welsh wilderness. Part of our neighborhood book club adventure for anyone who liked Gone Girl. I also recommend All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr for a heart wrenching book set on the Australian coastline.

Murder in the Marais – Cara Black

The first in the Aimee Leduc series that is thoughtfully constructed in masterfully told.  In each book, Black combines a Parisian neighborhood with all of its history and a modern day political problem. This one focuses on anti-semitisim facing France’s Jewish community in WWII and today. Aimee has all the color and attitude of a dynamic detective with Parisian sense of history and style.  A must read if you plan to travel to Paris or simply want to escape into the City of Lights through a good book.

In the Land of Blue Burquas – Kate McCord

Although all the names are changed in this touching glimpse into the life of an American missionary in Afghanistan, the anecdotal story-telling takes you past the foreign and into the hearts of the Afghan people.  You feel the bite of the cold weather, the sting of hardship and hunger, the overwhelming experience of being a woman in this harsh land but the sweetness of the tea and laughter saturate this book.

A Year In Provence – Peter Mayle

Ever dream of leaving it all behind and moving to Provence? Before you go, pickup this classic search for simplicity, good food and an earthier understanding of life.  Mayle’s humor is essential as he strives to renovate a 200 year-old barn and live like a local in the quirky but gorgeous region of France.  You’ll want to pick up the sequel Toujour Provence and watch/read A Good Year.  Nate and I got so inspired we had a full South of France dinner party. Learning how to make a good coq au vin or tapenade helps you slow down and relish the friends who gather together at your table.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Our latest neighborhood, bookclub adventure this Japanese sensation is a unique peak into Asian culture and what it can teach us about living with less. Kondo has liberated hundreds of Japanese from being ruled by their things or waste a life time organizing overwhelming closets, drawers and lives.  I wish the translator had uses synonyms for tidying, it gets very redundant. The author is definitely a quirky character but she has passion and a valuable point. It’s a quick read that may help you stream-line your life giving you time for reading or travel . .

Read any globetrotting books lately?

Let us know where you’ve traveled in a book and what you loved!

Bon Voyage!

Share this Story
  • Global Lit

    Global Lit Must Haves: 2017

    Books make excellent traveling companions. I can tell you where I was for many of my favorite adventures in literature.  They whisk ...
Load More Related Articles
Load More By Sarah Kay
Load More In Global Lit

Facebook Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Check Also

NIV Bible for Women, Fresh Insights for Thriving in Today’s World

It came like a whisper ‘Tell your children ...

Have we met?

The child of missionary parents, writing became a natural was to process my adventures across the world.

Ndjerareou means 'he who builds the road in Ngambai, Nate's tribal language spoken in Chad, Africa.

Get on the VIP list!

Follow Me @

Did You Pin It?

My Insta-happenings

  • "It is a happy talent to know how to play." -Ralph Waldo Emerson
It may have only lasted for 30 minutes but it was delicious to watch him frolic. Thankful for languid  afternoons, family and all the laughter .
#klydewarren #abilenetx #cousins #freeplayarlington #familyfun
  • No one told me it would require solitude to put pen to paper
And yet my loneliness provides a voice

In the space between wonder and wandering my soul speaks

The margin between exultation and despair is the place I reach out

The prayer to be heard becomes a longing to be understood 
The desire flows into rhythm and story flows out into the world

When the Lord spoke the world into being he created from the void 
From nothing he created life and beauty 
And it was good.

The divine spark of creativity is a gift 
Left over from the beginning of time

Yet the act demands that I enter into the void

The space between belonging and being lost

To listen to the wild call of the soul

To hear it echo in a silent space 
The one that bubbles up with bravery 
To think or dare to place your vision into the sea of life 
A call to from nothing into something

It is the imprint of the creator

Like a prayer we pour our energies into the space of humanity

An offering to the divine 
A reflection of something sacred in the broken reality of our world

May I never loose the hunger to enter the void

Grant me faithfulness to doggedly pursue the gift

To steward to act of creating something from nothing 
Honor the creator 
Build a bridge to my sister

Speak truth in the darkness

Story on the soul

The Lonely Act of Creation - A Poem by S.K. Ndjerareou . .

#poems #writersofinstagram #inspiration #lakecomo #italy #neverstopwriting #explore
  • Here's to wild lands and all the places we've dreamed about. Thank you autumn for your natural inspiration. .

#fall #wanderlust #inspiration #wildlands #jrrtolkien #autumn #herestoournextadventure #booksquotes #inspiringwords #booksareadventures #
  • From our porch to yours! #happydayofcandy
  • "We're all mad here!" -Lewis Carol
 Trunk or Treat 2017 at the Village Church, Fort Worth is in the books! Thank you to everyone who poured your love, creativity and time into our community! An epic night!
#tvcfw #happyhalloween #wereallmadhere #cheshirecat #madhatter #whenyourteenasksyoutodressupyousayYES!
  • "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." -Maya Angelou
The beauty in a gathering of friends is the warmth that is ignited within us. The gentle touches that make us feel welcomed and cared for can be as simple as a cup of coffee or as detailed as exquisitely laid table. Both are an offering of love and kindness. Yesterday, a lovely group of women that I admire invited me into partake in friendship, a good meal and a moment of encouragement. As I walk away with renewed and nourished soul I am so thankful for these women who remind me of the gifts of hospitality. I'm grateful for the tender power of this art form, this place to gather that feeds the spirit, mind and heart.
#tabletogether #greatconversationaroundtbetable #deepmomentstogether  #hospitality #gatheringtogether #gather #nothingisordinary #giftsoffriendship #celebratefall #eliminatehurry #invited #whatagifttobeinvited #thankyouforhavingus #whatajoy #teachtheyoungerwomen
  • My fall flavors are carrot cake & ginger bread. But I have a confession, I don’t bake well. I rarely wear my glasses in the kitchen and I’ve NEVER followed instructions very well so my baking mistakes are epic. The precision and concentration to create confectionary masterpieces is rarely worth the time or the guilt.  Birthday cakes come from Costco, I can make put cookie dough on a pan but I’ve even been known to mix up baked goods that come out of a box.  I do LOVE to cook.  I used to love painting but it feels the same in my brain as standing over the stove and my people are much more excited to see my culinary creations than my artwork. Go figure! .  Today, I bake to make memories. Life is moving fast and I’m always looking for meaningful ways to engage my children.  This recipe will give you those stolen moments together. For the recipe on these Carrot Cake Cookies click the link in my profile. It’s so easy even I can do it. .  #makememories #carrotcakecookies #fall #nothingisordinary #familytime #everydayadventure #nothingisordinary #ibakedit #webaketogether #frommykitchentoyours
  • "One secret of life is that the reason life works at all is that not everyone in your tribe is nuts on the same day. Another secret is that laughter is carbonated holiness." -Anne LaMott .
I'm so thankful for my tribe @arthousedallas and the inspiration, encouragement and laughter they've brought along the way. .
Today, I got my hands on an advance copy of Empathy for the Devil, Finding Ourselves In The Villains of the Bible, by JR Forasteros. @jrforasteros .
I've had the privilege of watching this piece grow from edited pages our tribe has spoken into and over to this fantastic book. Thanks for sharing your journey with us! Look for the book Nov. 7th. .
#writersofinstagram #findyourtribe #arthousedallas #inspiration #keepwriting #writeitdown #write #findthestoryinside #findyourvoice #celebrate #books #reading #storytelling #spilledink #writerscommunity