-Emma Bilsborough, Retail Team Leader

I recently watched a Ted talk about a woman who spent a year reading a book from every country in the world. I thought it was brilliant, and it drew my attention to how limited my own bookshelves are. I decided to take up the challenge to diversify my reading list.

Now, generally my reading lists consist of various children's books and fiction. This is on its own very limiting, but being around books all the time means I'm always a little overwhelmed with the options I have when I want to try something new. But this was more than just subject matter, this was about reading different cultures, reading translations, reading something that takes me away from my little world and opens my eyes to the worlds of others.

So, I turned to my fellow booksellers. I asked for recommendations for books from different cultures and countries that would broaden my horizons a little. Here's what I got.

The Palace of Dreams, Ismail Kadare (Albanian, 'Pallati i ëndrrave')

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"At the heart of the Sultan's vast empire stands the mysterious Palace of Dreams. Inside, the dreams of every citizen are collected, sorted and interpreted in order to identify the 'master-dreams' that will provide the clues to the Empire's destiny and that of its Monarch. An entire nation's consciousness is thus meticulously laid bare and at the mercy of its government..."

In the Country We Love, Diane Guerrero (Spanish, 'En el pais que amamos')

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Though Diane Guerrero was born and raised in America, this story tells us of how her parents were detained and deported when she was just 14, sitting in a class at school. It tells us about her struggles with raising herself, getting an education, while her parents were living in a country thousands of miles away from her.

Something to Tell You, Hanif Kureishi (Pakistani)

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"Jamal Khan, a psychoanalyst in his fifties living in London, is haunted by memories of his teens: his first love, Ajita; the exhilaration of sex, drugs and politics; and a brutal act of violence which changed his life for ever. As he and his best friend Henry attempt to make the sometimes painful, sometimes comic transition to their divorced middle age, balancing the conflicts of desire and dignity, Jamal's teenage traumas make a shocking return into his present life."

Purple Hibiscus, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigerian)

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"The limits of fifteen-year-old Kambili’s world are defined by the high walls of her family estate and the dictates of her fanatically religious father. Her life is regulated by schedules: prayer, sleep, study, prayer. When Nigeria is shaken by a military coup, Kambili’s father, involved mysteriously in the political crisis, sends her to live with her aunt. In this house, noisy and full of laughter, she discovers life and love – and a terrible, bruising secret deep within her family."

Because I love children's books, I had to find out what else I could be reading there too;

Refugee Boy, Benjamin Zephaniah (British)

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"Haunting, tragic and distressing in what it reveals about man’s inhumanity to man, Refugee Boy is also an affirming story of one boy’s amazing courage and several other individual’s goodness and integrity. Caught up in the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, Alem’s life is in danger at home. To make sure he survives, Alem’s father brings him to Britain and abandons him to seek asylum and find a new and better life. The story of how Alem retains his dignity and independence in the most challenging of circumstances while also adapting to the demands of a new life is strongly told."

Malala's Magic Pencil, Malala Yousafzai (Pakistani)

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"As a child in Pakistan, Malala made a wish for a magic pencil. She would use it to make everyone happy, to erase the smell of garbage from her city, to sleep an extra hour in the morning. But as she grew older, Malala saw that there were more important things to wish for. She saw a world that needed fixing. And even if she never found a magic pencil, Malala realized that she could still work hard every day to make her wishes come true."

Little People, Big Dreams Series, Various Authors

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This series is brilliant. Written for young children, it tells the stories of various men and women from all over the world who were influencial and inspirational. With the stories of people like Maya Angelou, Frida Kahlo, Simone de Beauvoir and Rosa Parks, it's the perfect series to read to your little ones (or if you're like me, read for yourself).

I can't wait to get started on these recommendations - I hope some of you will check them out too!


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