Worth a Read:

Here is a short list of recent books I’ve read during my travels.  These books highly impacted my perspective on each country and culture.  They are also very powerful books that I found hard to put down.  Definitely books that are worth a read!  Thirdeyemom


“The Kite Runner” – Khaled Hosseini

“A Thousand Splendid Suns”-Khaled Hosseini

“And the Mountains Echoed” – Khaled Hosseini

“The Bookseller of Kabul” – Åsne Seierstad


“Cutting for Stone” by Abraham Verghese

“The Hospital by the River: A Story of Hope” – By Dr. Catherine Hamlin with John Little

“There is No Me Without You: One Woman’s Odyssey to Rescue Her Country’s Children” – By Melissa Fay Greene


“Behind the Beautiful Forevers”: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo.

“Untouchable” by Mulk Raj Anand

“The God of Small Things” by Arundhati Roy

“Midnight’s Children” by Salman Rushdie

“White Tiger” by Aravind Adiga

“The Lowland” by Jhumpa Lahiri


“Brick Lane” by Monica Ali


“Country Driving” by Peter Hessler

“China Wakes: The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power” by Sheryl WuDunn and Nicolas Kristoff

“Joy Luck Club” and “The Valley of Amazement” by Amy Tan

“Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China”  by Leslie Chang

“Snow Flower and the Secret Fan”, “Peony in Love”, “Shanghai Girls” and “Dreams of Joy” by Lisa See


“Bacardi and The Long Fight for Cuba” by Tom Gjelten

“Cuba Diaries: An American Housewife in Havana” by Isadora Tattlin


“My Life in France” by Julia Child


“Claire of the Sea Light”, and “Krik? Krak?- Edwidge Danticat

“Mountains beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World” – by Tracey Kidder

“The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster” – by Jonathan M. Katz


“Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood” by Fatima Mernissi

“Beyond the Veil” by Fatima Mernissi

“In Arabian Nights: A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams” by Tahir Shah

“The Caliph’s House” by Tahir Shah


“Little Princes” by Conor Grennan

Lonely Planet Nepal

“The Snow Leopard” by Peter Matthiessen


“Americanah” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“Things Fall Apart” – Chinua Achebe


“Baking Cakes in Kigali” by Gaile Parkin

Sierra Leone:

“The Memory of Love” by Aminatta Forna


“Keeping Hope Alive” – By Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Dr. Hawa Abdi with Sarah Robbins.


“A Long Walk to Water” – By Linda Sue Park


“Freedom in Exile:  The Autobiography of the Dalai Lama”


“Catfish and Mandala” by Andrew X. Pham

Beautiful reads based in the US or about the US:

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou

The Joy Luck Club – by Amy Tan

“The Book of the Unknown Americans ” – Cristina Henriquez

“Zeitoun” – by Dave Eggers

Inspirational Books:

“The Alchemist” and “Manuscript Found in Accra” – Paulo Coelho

Fascinating reads about religion, culture, race, etc:

“Americanah” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

“I am Forbidden” by Anouk Markovits ( A look into the life of the Satmar, Hasidic Jews)

“The Alchemist” by Paulo Coehlo

Changing the world:  Social problems and non-profits that try to help:

“I am Malala: the Girl Who Stood Up For Education and Was Shot By the Taliban”  by Malala Youszfzai with Christina Lamb

“The Blue Sweater” by Jacqueline Novogratz

“Half the Sky” and “A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunities” by Nicolas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.

“A House in the Sky” – Amanda Lindhout and Sara Corbett

“How to Change the World:  Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas”  by David Bornstein

“How to End Poverty:  Economic Possibilities for Our Time” by Jeffrey Sachs

“The Blue Sweater” by Jacqueline Novogratz

“Little Princes” by Conor Greenan


“The Invisible Bridge” by Julie Orringer

Social Justice, Social Change 

“War is Not Over When It’s Over” by Ann Jones

Global Health

“The Vaccine Myth”

Global Aid

“The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster” – by Jonathan M. Katz

Finally, I found this amazing alphabetical list by country (over 196) that has an amazing collection of books on her awesome blog: “A Year of Reading the World – the List” 

If you have a book that is worth a read, please let me know!  I’m always looking for new books to read and add to the list.  Thank you.  

What readers have said……

Elizabeth Atalay :  Half The Sky, Mountains Beyond mountains & The Blue Sweater are non-fiction humanitarian books, Biography I’ve loved of Women in Africa Kuki Gallmann I dreamed of Africa, Old Classics West With The Night &The Flame Trees of Thika, African Fiction Ben Okri The Famished Road, other fiction taking place in Africa & Travel: Cannibal by Svoboda,The Sheltering Sky the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series,Masai Dreaming,The Poisonwood Bible & Mating by Norman Rush…to start!

Carol Millman 1:10pm Aug 22
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. It’s in the kids or young adults section, but seriously, it is one of those books that makes you really THINK about invididuality. A short read, a life changing book.
Jennifer Prestholdt 12:11pm Aug 22
I just posted this on your blog, but for other moms interested in social justice books here is a list of my organization’s book club selections and discussion guides.http://www.theadvocatesforhumanrights.org/book_lists_and_discussion_guides.html
Meredith Salinas 2:31pm Aug 22
“Cutting for Stone” was a good one about doctors facing the medical inequalities in Ethiopia ( I can’t remember the author’s name) and “The Poisonwood Bible” ( Barbara Kingsolver) about a pastor who took his family of four girls with him to be a missionary family in the Congo. Both are fiction but are very interesting.
Karyn Van Der Zwet 4:58pm Aug 22
“Women Who Run With the Wolves”
Roxanne Piskel 5:20pm Aug 22
Girl’s Guide to Hunting & Fishing by Melissa Banks
Margie Henderson Bryant 5:39pm Aug 22
A Thousand Splendid Suns. Made me realize how lucky I am to be a woman in the US.
More recently the memoir, Drinking, A Love Story, has moved me in a deep way. As a former addict, I have never seen addiction so painfully spelled out. I think anyone would benefit from reading it.IfByYes commented on Help me complete my reading list….Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. A short, easy read but it will really make you THINK about topics like individuality, popularity, being yourself, and taking care of others. Seriously, one of those books that makes you want to be a better person, while lifting you up.

Cynthia Changyit Levin 11:21am Aug 22
Reclaiming Our Democracy: Healing the Break Between People and Government by Sam Daley-Harris (about the founding of RESULTS…written before the Tea Party took over “reclaiming” language and twisted it to mean different things).  Also, “Give a Little: How Your Small Donations Can Transform Our World” by Wendy Smith.

Melissa Avery: “This is more of a how to do book but I found it very resourceful:

“Babes in the Woods: Hiking, Camping, Boating with Babies & Young Children” by Jennifer Aist

Chrysula Lytras Winegar For global health, “Half the Sky” by Nick Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. Also, “Damned Nations: Greed, Guns, War and Aid”, can’t remember the author just now. It’s full on, but I’ve learned a great deal.


  1. Pingback: Help me complete my reading list…. | thirdeyemom

  2. Great idea Nicole!
    I remember being deeply moved by ‘Ladies Coupe’ by Anita Nair. Several by Jhumpa Lahiri particularly her Pullitzer winning ‘ Interpreter of Maladies’. I loved Salman Rushdies ‘Shalimar the Clown’. Dominique Lapierre’s ‘City of Joy’….

    • Great choice as it is the second time I’ve heard it! A friend told me about it last week when I was asking for a good inspirational read. I’ll definitely hit this one ASAP! Thanks!

  3. Two excellent books: Lilla’s Feast – one woman’s true story of love and war in the Orient by Frances Osborn; My Journey to Lhasa by Alexandra David-Neel. She was the first European woman to enter Tibet’s forbidden city.

    • Wow, these sound great! I especially would love to read the one about Tibet as I was in Nepal a few years back and Tibet is a place I am dreaming to visit someday. Thank you!!!!

  4. Bel Canto – (Ann Patchett) Fiction set in a petite make-believe country in South America.

    My Father’s Island (Johanna Angermeyer) Oh, what a story this woman shares! (Galapagos)

    The Mapmaker’s Wife (Robert Whitaker) Story of 18th century French mapmakers in the Andean region of Ecuador and Peru.

    One River (Wade Davis) “Explorations and discoveries in the Amazon Rain Forest” (Schultez/Amazon/Indians//Ethnobotany)

  5. Red

    Naked in Dangerous Places ~ Cash Peters (For adults)(NF)
    The Sex Lives of Cannibals and Getting Stoned with Savages ~ both by J. Maarten Troost, the first is about living in Kiribati and the second covers living in Vanuatu (Both for adults)(NF)
    Guests of the Sheik: An Ethnography of an Iraqi Village ~ Elizabeth Warnock Fernea (NF)
    Falling Leaves: A Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter ~ Adeline Yen Mah (NF)
    Russian Blood ~ Alex Shoumatoff – The author studies his family’s history in Russia (NF)
    African Madness and The Rivers Amazon ~ Alex Shoumatoff (Both NF)

    Paradise of the Blind ~ Duong Thu Huong – Banned in its own country, this is the first novel from Vietnam published in the US. It is about family struggles. (F)
    The Madonnas of Leningrad ~ Debra Dean – “[A] story about memories and imagination. . . [Dean’s] descriptive passages and dialogue are painteresque and exquisitely drawn. The bring to life wonderful paintings as well as the tortured lives of Leningrad’s residents.” USA Today (F)

    The United States: Original Essays by Leading American Writers on Their State within the Union ~ Edited by John Leonard (F)
    The Raising of a President: The Mothers and Fathers of Our Nation’s Leaders ~ Doug Wead

    It is a long list, but they are all fantastic books.

  6. I just happened upon your wonderful list, as I search for a new read. I just finished, “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down” and highly recommend it. It’s a fascinating cross-cultural look at Hmong and American culture. It was of particular interest to me since I have travelled to Laos, but I think it’s an important book for anyone who interacts with people from other cultures.

  7. mahamoud

    Dear Thirdeyemom
    i am somali, thought from djibouti a neighbouring country. I felt today upon your blog with your article on the somali american woman. I do appreciate very intensely your way of wrinting thought i am a french speaker and so a real beginner in English.Let me tell you that i read almost all your articles. They shook me, particularly your tribute to your beloved mom.
    A month ago i was in Paris and i bought a book that i really liked and will advise you if you had not readed it.
    “THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH from KEN FOLLETT. I think that you didn’t miss it.


    • Thanks for the comment! Yes I did read Pillars of the Earth and loved it. Here in Minneapolis we have the largest Somali population outside of Somalia. My daughter’s best friend is a Somali-American so we’ve begun to interact with the wonderful Somali community here in the US. Thanks for the kind words. 🙂

      • Mahamoud Ahmed

        Thank you for the replay! i am proud to be acquainted that your daughter is a cosmopolitan citizen  like you. Sure if she acts like that it’s because of the humanist education given to her by you, her mother. As you are aware due to your trips all around the world, diversity is the best wealth.  I think my country, Djibouti worth also yours visits. Here, in Djibouti, we have the biggest presence of US forces. Without a doubt I think that you have already hear about Camp Lemmonnier where there is a big concentration of american armies. As djiboutiens we are known to a be a warmth people, of course besides some flaws inherent to human beings. It will surely be a good marketing for our country if its quality and landscape were been brushed by your wonderfull pen. In any case it is a great pleasure to having you read. Best regards.

      • Thank you! Travel opens up the world and the eyes. I hope my children can travel as well so they can be exposed to different cultures. The world is a grand place!

  8. Hi! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering if
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    I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m
    having difficulty finding one? Thanks a lot!

  9. bringbabyabroad

    Wow! Such a great idea! I love reading and your list will keep me busy 😀 I have read few books from your list and I’ve heard of others, absolutely stunning list!
    Thank you!

  10. bringbabyabroad

    I would also recommend Samarkand by Amin Maloof, if planning to go to Uzbekistan and Iran. The Pol Pot Regime: Race, Power, and Genocide in Cambodia Under the Khmer Rouge, 1975-79 by Ben Kiernan, Kingdom in crisis: Thailand’s struggle for democracy by Andrew Marshall

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