Category Archives: Wanderlust

Looking Back at 2019


Looking back at 2019, I am happy with my reading year. In addition to my usual reading,  I took on a number of challenges and enjoyed the books I read for each one. I love the journey of each challenge and the exposure to new authors, genres, and ideas that really expand my world.

Turning seventy years old felt like a big milestone and I wanted to celebrate it in some special way. So I put together a self-challenge called “EMBRACING SEVENTY.”  I created a 1949 list of books and movies– anything to do with 70. It turned out to be a fun research project. Here are the books I read, and the one movie from 1949 that my husband and I watched:

”WANDERLUST” was another self-challenge I put together this year in an effort to read more international literature. I read both children and adult books and liked the glimpses into other cultures. I will continue this challenge in 2020 and beyond.

For a second year in a row, I signed up for Adam’s 2019 OFFICIAL TBR challenge. Last year I read 4 books for his challenge, and this year I did the same. That’s 8 books that have been sitting on my bookshelf for far too long, so I’m happy to have been motivated to finally read them. Thank you, Adam, for hosting this challenge. I’ll miss it! Here’s my list of books read in 2019:

Dolce Bellezza’s JAPANESE LITERATURE Challenge always calls to me, and in 2019 I read one book and watched three Japanese films. Meredith always puts together a really classy challenge! My 2019 books and movies:

Films:

I had good intentions when I signed up for Rachel’s (@hibernatorslibrary) A YEAR of SHAKESPEARE Challenge this year. I was going to read three Shakespeare plays, but I ended up only reading one (which I enjoyed very much!). But I also read a lot of different books about that play, so it really was an immersive experience, and a lot of fun. Here’s what I read for this challenge:

A Shakespeare Comedy : The Winter’s Tale

READERS IMBIBING PERIL- XIV was a great challenge this fall! It’s one of my favorite challenges each year, and I enjoy it more and more each year!  I love mysteries and suspense novels, good book series and good TV mystery series, so I had lots of fun reading and watching movies!

PERIL the FIRST:

  1. The Lost One, by Mary Stewart
  2. The Little Sister, by Raymond Chandler
  3. Christmas in Absaroka County, by Craig Johnson
  4. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
  5. The Religious Body, by Catherine Aird
  6. An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good, by Helene Tursten
  7. The Case of the Famished Parson, by George Bellairs
  8. Rose Cottage, by Mary Stewart
  9. The House on the Strand, by Daphne du Maurier
  10. Trouble in Nuala, by Harriet Steel
  11. Whiteout, by Ken Follett

PERIL on the SCREEN:

  1. 4:50 From Paddington
  2. Murder at the Gallop
  3. The Mirror Crack’d
  4. Murder Most Foul 

I joined THE CLASSICS CLUB in March of 2017 and agreed to read 50 Books in 5 Years. This is a great challenge, so well organized and with fun activities. I’ve always loved reading classics so it’s a perfect fit for me. As of right now, I’ve read 28 of my 50 books list. This year I read these classics:

Having time to read is such a precious luxury for me and this year has been full of reading joy. And now I’m looking forward to my 2020 reading.

For all my reading friends, may 2020 be a year of joyful reading for you, too!

Stepping Stones

During this week of unspeakable horror in Syria, I found a little book at the library that shone with beauty and hope. Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey, written by Margriet Ruurs and with illustrations created by Nizar Ali Badr, is a honest and poignant story of a Syrian family’s experience of having to leave their beloved home and country and flee for their lives. Fortunately, they find open arms and help in a new country. This book would be a wonderful teaching tool for families and classrooms to help all understand the refugee crisis worldwide. It also gives information about how one can give help during this humanitarian crisis.

from the publisher, Orca Book Publishers:

This unique picture book was inspired by the stone artwork of Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr, discovered by chance by Canadian children’s writer Margriet Ruurs. The author was immediately impressed by the strong narrative quality of Mr. Badr’s work, and, using many of Mr. Badr’s already-created pieces, she set out to create a story about the Syrian refugee crisis. Stepping Stones tells the story of Rama and her family, who are forced to flee their once-peaceful village to escape the ravages of the civil war raging ever closer to their home. With only what they can carry on their backs, Rama and her mother, father, grandfather and brother, Sami, set out to walk to freedom in Europe. Nizar Ali Badr’s stunning stone images illustrate the story.

from Social Justice Books:

This bilingual children’s picture book (English and Arabic) is worth reading for the illustrations alone. The three dimensional characters, made from beach stone by Syrian artist Nizar Ali Badr, are so expressive and exquisite that they tell a story of their own. Badr conveys the plight of refugees, although he himself has never left Syria. He explains, “How could I leave the country that gave to humanity the world’s oldest writing, the cuneiform alphabet?”

What can you do to make a difference?

 

I chose this book to read for my personal challenge, “Wanderlust,” my effort to read books that are from or take place in each country of the world. This was a book about life in Syria.

Trouble in Nuala

 

I was looking for a new mystery series to become absorbed with and found Trouble in Nuala, the first book in a series by Harriet Steel. The setting is in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) during the 1930s, and I was fascinated to see if it is a series I’d like to follow. I immediately liked the main character and his wife, and enjoyed the glimpses of the culture of Ceylon at that time. The mystery kept me interested, and I thought that the author set everything in motion for an enjoyable series — good main characters that I will enjoy getting to know more about with each book, and good solid mysteries steeped in an interesting culture. I look forward to reading more from this author.

…from the publisher

When Inspector Shanti de Silva moves with his English wife, Jane, to his new post in the sleepy hill town of Nuala, he anticipates a more restful life than police work in the big city entails. However an arrogant plantation owner with a lonely wife, a crusading lawyer, and a death in suspicious circumstances present him with a riddle that he will need all his experience to solve.

Set on the exotic island of Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka) in the 1930s, Trouble in Nuala is an entertaining and absorbing mystery spiced with humor and a colorful cast of characters.

 

 

This was a fun read for my PERIL the FIRST for the R.I.P.-XIV challenge.

 

This book also qualifies for my personal challenge:  “Wanderlust” — an effort to read books that are from or take place in each country of the world. This was a book from Sri Lanka.

The Librarian of Basra

The Librarian of Basra: A True Story From Iraq, by Jeanette Winter, is a picture book for children that is equally interesting to adults.

…from the Publisher:

“In the Koran, the first thing God said to Muhammad was ‘Read.'”*
~ Alia Muhammad Baker

Alia Muhammad Baker is the librarian of Basra. For fourteen years, her office has been a meeting place for those who love books–until now. Now war has come, and Alia fears the library will be destroyed. She asks government officials for help, but they refuse. So Alia takes matters into her own hands, working secretly with friends to move the thirty-thousand new and ancient books from the library and hide them in their homes. There, the books are stacked in windows and cupboards and even in an old refrigerator. But they are safe until the war moves on–safe with the librarian of Basra.

This moving true story about a real librarian’s brave struggle to save her war-stricken community’s priceless collection of books is a powerful reminder that the love of literature and the passion for knowledge know no boundaries.

 Jeanette Winter, brings us many of these inspirational stories from around the world in picturebook format. I love the idea of introducing children, through these books, to these everyday yet truly inspiring heroes. For me, they pique my curiosity about people I’d never heard of and I find myself pursuing more information and searching for more books about them!

 

I chose this book to read for my personal challenge, “Wanderlust,” an effort to read books that are from or take place in each country of the world. This was a book that takes place in Iraq.

 

Wanderlust

When I was 17 years old, I spent a year in Argentina as an exchange student, and after that experience I always considered myself a “Citizen of the World,” not just a citizen of my own country. But I’ll admit it:  I’m more of an armchair traveler than a real traveler, although I would love to visit many different far off places!  Books have always encouraged and mostly satisfied my wanderlust, so I will continue to read books from other countries and cultures.

There are many booklists online about books from countries around the world, and many blogging friends have put together challenges to encourage a broader range of reading. I love putting together lists, so I thought I would build this post with a list of the countries of the world so that when I read a book from or about that country, I can log it here. It’s the journey that calls to me, not the finish line.

I will read as many books in translation as possible. There are also many books for young people that provide wonderful stories and information about other cultures/countries, so I look forward to reading some of those, as well.  Since I’m starting in 2019, I will include books I’ve already read this year that qualify for this self-challenge and will provide links to my reviews.

It is important to me, as a “citizen of the world,” that I broaden my reading journey even more during this time of increasing nationalism. I truly believe the motto of the American Field Service (now known as AFS Intercultural Programs):

“Walk Together, Talk Together, 
O ye peoples of the Earth,
For then, and only then,
Shall ye have peace.”

  1. AFGHANISTAN:  Nasreen’s Secret School, by Jeanette Winter
  2. ALBANIA
  3. ALGERIA
  4. ANDORRA
  5. ANGOLA
  6. ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA: A Small Place, by Jamaica Kincaid
  7. ARGENTINA:  Argentinian Adventures: A Planthunter in Argentina, by John Lonsdale
  8. ARMENIA
  9. AUSTRALIA
  10. AUSTRIA
  11. AZERBAIJAN
  12. THE BAHAMAS
  13. BAHRAIN
  14. BANGLADESH
  15. BARBADOS
  16. BELARUS
  17. BELGIUM:  A Dog of Flanders, by Ouida
  18. BELIZE
  19. BENIN
  20. BHUTAN
  21. BOLIVIA
  22. BOSNIA and HERZEGOVINA
  23. BOTSWANA
  24. BRAZIL:  Manuscript Found in Accra, by Paulo Coehlo
  25. BRUNEI
  26. BULGARIA
  27. BURKINA FASO
  28. BURUNDI
  29. CABO VERDE
  30. CAMBODIA
  31. CAMEROON
  32. CANADA:  The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables, by Catherine Reid
  33. CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
  34. CHAD
  35. CHILE
  36. CHINA
  37. COLOMBIA:  Waiting for the Biblioburro, by Monica Brown
  38. COMOROS
  39. CONGO, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF
  40. CONGO, REPUBLIC OF THE
  41. COSTA RICA
  42. COTE D’IVOIRE
  43. CROATIA
  44. CUBA:  Island Treasures: Growing Up in Cuba, by Alma Flor Ada
  45. CYPRUS
  46. CZECH REPUBLIC
  47. DENMARK
  48. DJIBOUTI
  49. DOMINICA
  50. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
  51. EAST TIMOR (TIMOR-LESTE)
  52. ECUADOR
  53. EGYPT
  54. EL SALVADOR
  55. EQUATORIAL GUINEA
  56. ERITREA
  57. ESTONIA
  58. ESWATINI
  59. ETHIOPIA
  60. FIJI
  61. FINLAND
  62. FRANCE
  63. GABON
  64. THE GAMBIA
  65. GEORGIA
  66. GERMANY:  The Solitary Summer, by Elizabeth von Arnim
  67. GHANA:  Emmanuel’s Dream, The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, by Laurie Ann Thompson
  68. GREECE:  The Moonspinners, by Mary Stewart
  69. GRENADA
  70. GUATEMALA
  71. GUINEA
  72. GUINEA-BISSAU
  73. GUYANA
  74. HAITI
  75. HONDURUS
  76. HUNGARY
  77. ICELAND:  The Little Book of the Icelanders: 50 Miniature Essays on the Quirks and Foibles of the Icelandic People, by Alda Sigmundsdottir
  78. INDIA:  A Tiger for Malgudi, by R. K. Narayan
  79. INDONESIA:  The Twenty-One Balloons, by William Pene Du Bois
  80. IRAN
  81. IRAQ:  The Librarian of Basra, by Jeanette Winter
  82. IRELAND:  Home is the Sailor (Irish Country Doctor series), by Patrick Taylor
  83. ISRAEL
  84. ITALY:  Marcovaldo, or The Seasons in the City, by Italo Calvino
  85. JAMAICA
  86. JAPAN:  Sweet Bean Paste, by Durian Sukegawa
  87. JORDAN
  88. KAZAKHSTAN
  89. KENYA:  Facing The Lion: Growing Up Maasai on the African Savanna, by Joseph Lemasolai Lekuton
  90. KIRIBATI
  91. KOREA, NORTH
  92. KOREA, SOUTH
  93. KOSOVO
  94. KUWAIT
  95. KYRGYSTAN
  96. LAOS
  97. LATVIA
  98. LEBANON
  99. LESOTHO
  100. LIBERIA
  101. LIBYA
  102. LIECHTENSTEIN
  103. LITHUANIA
  104. LUXEMBOURG
  105. MADAGASCAR
  106. MALAWI
  107. MALAYSIA
  108. MALDIVES
  109. MALI
  110. MALTA
  111. MARSHALL ISLANDS
  112. MAURITANIA:  Deep in the Sahara, by Kelly Cunnane and illustrated by Hoda Hadadi 
  113. MAURITIUS 
  114. MEXICO
  115. MICRONESIA, FEDERATED STATES of
  116. MOLDOVA
  117. MONACO
  118. MONGOLIA
  119. MONTENEGRO
  120. MOROCCO
  121. MOZAMBIQUE
  122. MYANMAR (Burma)
  123. NAMIBIA
  124. NAURU
  125. NEPAL
  126. NETHERLANDS:  The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss
  127. NEW ZEALAND
  128. NICARAGUA
  129. NIGER
  130. NIGERIA
  131. NORTH MACEDONIA
  132. NORWAY
  133. OMAN
  134. PAKISTAN
  135. PALAU
  136. PANAMA
  137. PAPUA NEW GUINEA    
  138. PARAGUAY:  Ada’s Violin: The Story of the Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay, by Susan Hood
  139. PERU
  140. PHILIPPINES
  141. POLAND
  142. PORTUGAL
  143. QATAR
  144. ROMANIA
  145. RUSSIA:  A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles
  146. RWANDA
  147. SAINT KITTS and NEVIS 
  148. SAINT LUCIA
  149. SAINT VINCENT and THE GRENADINES 
  150. SAMOA
  151. SAN MARINO
  152. SAO TOME and PRINCIPE
  153. SAUDI ARABIA
  154. SENEGAL
  155. SERBIA
  156. SEYCHELLES
  157. SIERRA LEONE
  158. SINGAPORE
  159. SLOVAKIA
  160. SLOVENIA
  161. SOLOMON ISLANDS
  162. SOMALIA
  163. SOUTH AFRICA
  164. SPAIN
  165. SRI LANKA: Trouble in Nuala, by Harriet Steel
  166. SUDAN
  167. SUDAN, SOUTH:  A Long Walk to Water, by Linda Sue Park
  168. SURINAME
  169. SWEDEN:  An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good, by Helene Tursten
  170. SWITZERLAND
  171. SYRIA: Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family’s Journey, by Margriet Ruur and illustrated by Nazir Ali Badr
  172. TAIWAN
  173. TAJIKISTAN
  174. TANZANIA
  175. THAILAND
  176. TOGO
  177. TONGA
  178. TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
  179. TUNISIA
  180. TURKEY
  181. TURKMENISTAN
  182. TUVALU
  183. UGANDA
  184. UKRAINE
  185. UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
  186. UNITED KINGDOM:  Cider With Rosie, by Laurie Lee
  187. UNITED STATES:  The Country of the Pointed Firs, by Sarah Orne Jewett
  188. URUGUAY
  189. UZBEKISTAN
  190. VANUATU
  191. VATICAN CITY
  192. VENEZUELA
  193. VIETNAM:  Water Buffalo Days – Growing Up in Vietnam, by Huynh Quang Nhuong
  194. YEMEN
  195. ZAMBIA
  196. ZIMBABWE