Wednesday 14 March 2018

An A - Z of Diversity in my TBR Pile

I'm trying very hard to make a dint on my stupendous Mount TBR this year. Once a month or so, to keep me motivated, I thought I'd join in the current trend of A-Zing. 

However A-Zing my TBR pile is simply way too easy.

So I will nominate a theme for each list. This month, it's DIVERSITY.

We're talking books in translation, books set in other countries and books featuring non-Western cultures.

Little cheats are allowed (the letter can be represented by the title or the author, although I will aim to mostly use the book titles) but the book HAS to be on my current TBR pile. If I can remember, I will also share the story of how this book came to be on my #MountTBR.

Without any further ado, my TBR A-Z of Diversity is:

An Artist in the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro

I've been an Ishiguro fan ever since I saw the 1993 movie The Remains of the Day.
I've been slowly reading & adding his backlist to my library.

Benang by Kim Scott

My very first week in the bookshop, we had a visit from an author & publicist.
The author was Kim Scott and to my immense (future self) shame, I didn't know who he was or what he had written. 
In my defence, I had spent the previous 20 years focused on children's literature in my professional life & personally tended to gravitate towards classic novels written by dead white men.
However I've been wanting to rectify this glaring social faux pas ever since.
When Fremantle Press published this gorgeous hardcover edition of Benang a couple of years ago, I knew I had to have it.

A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo

Loved the title, the Amy Tan tag and the chance to add to my Women's Prize (Orange Prize) backlist.

The Discreet Hero by Mario Vargas Llosa

A sale book that caught my eye with its Nobel Prize tag on the cover.

The End of Loneliness by Benedict Wells

Got nothing on this one.
I have no idea how it ended up on my #MountTBR

The Famished Road by Ben Okri

I found a secondhand copy of this book in a Blackheath community market garage sale.
It was autumn and the cover jumped out at me.

The General in His Labyrinth by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

A fictionalised account of Simon Bolivar's final days that caught my eye after reading The Invention of Nature in 2016. Alexander von Humboldt met Bolivar during his travels in South America. They both also had a Cuban connection which caught my eye at the time.

Hiroshima by John Hersey

I've been planning (in my mind) a trip to Japan for a very long time.
With the trip finally on my near horizon, I will hopefully find time to read this classic.

Istanbul by Orhan Pamuk

A number of years ago I decided I wanted to read more of the Nobel Prize winners. I also had a brief visit to Istanbul in 1991 and am curious to know more about its history. This book ticks both boxes.

The Jew's Beech by Annette Von Droste-Hulshoff

A Goodreads recommendation from Thomas that is still waiting patiently to be read.

The Key by Junichiro Tanizaki

Another one of those books that I have no memory of how it ended up in my house.

Little Jewel by Patrick Modiano

Purchased after Modiano won the Nobel Prize a few years ago.

The Moor's Account by Laila Lalami

Recommended by a colleague who made it sound too intriguing to pass by.
Loved the cover too.

Nanjing Requiem by Ha Jin

Ha Jin attended last year's Sydney Writers Festival. I didn't get to see any of his talks, but his books sounded appealing.

Origins by Amin Maalouf

I discovered Maalouf about 20 yrs ago during an exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW where his books were on sale in the gift room. I came home with Samakand and Leo Africanus. When I spotted he had also written a memoir many years later, I snapped it up.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Asian literature has always fascinated me. Not even a bad cover was going to keep me away from this one.

The Quiet American by Graham Greene 

Acquired for a trip to Vietnam after I had seen the movie, but then I found a book of short stories actually written by a Vietnamese author that came on holidays with me instead.

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

A fairly new addition to my TBR. After reading Exit West last year, I decided I wanted to read more works by Hamid.

Secondhand Time by Svetlana Alexievich

Another Nobel Prize choice that coincides with my fascination in all things Russian.

Twain and Stanley Enter Paradise by Oscar Hijuelos

A customer who knew of my Cuba trip, recommended I should read this book. I can only assume that Stanley and/or Twain visit Cuba in the story at some point.

Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset

Another Nobel Prize book.

Views of Nature by Alexander Von Humboldt

Acquired after reading the Humboldt memoir mentioned above (letter G).

A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami

After reading 1Q84, I've been gradually stocking up on my Murakami backlist. I believe this is one of the weirder books.

The Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin

A Chinese classic that I really will read one day.

Frog by Mo Yan

Yet another Nobel Prize winner.

The Zigzag Way by Anita Desai

During my Indian lit phase in the late 90's I read quite a few Desai books (mother and daughter). The Zigzag Way was one of the few I didn't get to at the time (probably cause it wasn't actually written until 2004!)

Now I want to stop everything that I'm doing and binge read for a week!
Of course, that won't actually happen, so which one book from the list of 26 should I prioritise to the top of Mount TBR?


  1. Before you go to bed...thanks for a great read
    I can enjoy with my lunch.
    I still have to read your comments and selections!

    1. Which one would you read next?

    2. I love when you challenge me with this question. Sipping my morning coffee at the moment, staying off the bike on 'The Ides Of March' (better safe than sorry) and I will think long and hard about which book I would choose. My mood at the moment is not looking for depressing books. Mood is an important factor. You will hear my choice... very soon!

  2. Reading choices:
    Books I read: so they are not in consideration as an answer to your question,
    but I’ve listed them in the order of Good —> mèh.

    The Quiet American - great classic novel
    The Reluctant Fundamentalist - book that connects with the times we live in
    Secondhand Time - important book…but I could only read a few chapters at a time…it is depressing….exhausting….but good. (definite mood factor is important here)
    Kristin Lavransdatter - it had its moments...but I would not read another book by Sigrid Undset

    Now on to my choice for next read:

    1. Hiroshima - John Hersey (war correspondent, journalist…they always know how to write a gripping narrative!) -
    The article occupied almost the entire issue of the magazine – something The New Yorker had never done before. Article was published in book form and immediately sold over three million copies

    2. Views of Nature - 7 essays, you can read one….put the book down and let it settle. Sometimes 12 page essay is better than a 500+ page novel!

    3. Origins (memoir) - Amin Maalouf (…jounalist, member Académie française….then you must know how to write!)
    You can see I'm in a #NonFicReads18 mood!

    1. And you've gone straight to the book that I was planning to read next! Hiroshima (or one of my other Japanese books) are very much on my mind right now....but I also have a #ccspin & a #zoladdiction book to squeeze in too :-)
      My usual over-commitment problem!

      Thanks for your considered response.

  3. There are several authors on your list who I've read books from but didn't know about some of these other titles. Oh if only time could slow down and we could get to more books. Great list!

  4. That's a great list, I probably wouldn't mind reading almost any of them! That is one of my favourite Murakamis and you can't go wrong with Svetlana Alexievich, so those two get my vote at the mo.

    1. I've been a little scared of tackling Wild Sheep Chase, but you've given me the encouragement I need - thanks :-)

  5. I'm so behind lately that I didn't know that A-Zing was a thing at the moment. You've made a great list though (and we know I love those). Let me know when you get to Hiroshima- I've got that in my TBR too, maybe we could read it together?


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