Armchair BEA Day 4 - Giveaway & Beyond the Borders

Thursday, May 29, 2014 12:00 AM
Design by Amber of Shelf Notes
We've reached Day #4 of Armchair BEA! Can you believe it? Today is the highly anticipated giveaway day, a favorite for Armchair BEA participants. Who doesn't love winning bookish goodies?

And today, I am hosting my first ever giveaway (and probably the only one you'll be seeing for awhile because I'm saving up to move out) in the spirit of Armchair BEA! One lucky winner will be receiving a Barnes & Noble gift card for a total of $20! And it's up to the winner whether they want it mailed to them or just sent by email. I'm not sure if I did this Rafflecopter thingie right as it is my first time doing it, and I apologize if it's confusing at all. Good luck everyone!


a Rafflecopter giveaway
Beyond the Borders
It’s time to step outside your comfort zone, outside your borders, or outside of your own country or culture. Tell us about the books that transported you to a different world, taught you about a different culture, and/or helped you step into the shoes of someone different from you. What impacted you the most about this book? What books would you recommend to others who are ready or not ready to step over the line? In essence, let’s start the conversation about diversity and keep it going!

I'm not much of a traveler; in fact, I've only been outside of the country twice. Therefore, I love when books transport me to other countries, worlds, realms or even historical time periods. I must confess that I've read a shamefully small amount of books that feature diverse characters and cultures, and I've read even less books by diverse authors. I hope to fix that in the future. 

Obviously, I can't travel everywhere (if only I was rich) and I certainly can't time travel to the past, so that leaves me with the alternative: reading. Through books, we live a thousand lives across the world and throughout time. Some of my favorite books have taken place in countries I will most likely never visit, but somehow, I feel like I've already been there through the pages of a book. Here are some of my favorite books that feature diversity, along with some others that I have yet to read but really want to.

Books I Love Featuring Diversity

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Things Fall Apart tells two overlapping, intertwining stories, both of which center around Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Ibo village in Nigeria. The first of these stories traces Okonkwo's fall from grace with the tribal world in which he lives, and in its classical purity of line and economical beauty it provides us with a powerful fable about the immemorial conflict between the individual and society.

The second story, which is as modern as the first is ancient, and which elevates the book to a tragic plane, concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo's world through the arrival of aggressive, proselytizing European missionaries. These twin dramas are perfectly harmonized, and they are modulated by an awareness capable of encompassing at once the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul. (Goodreads)




Eon and Eona by Alison Goodman

Twelve-year-old Eon has been in training for years. His intensive study of Dragon Magic,, based on East Asian astrology, involves two kinds of skills: sword-work and magical aptitude. He and his master hope that he will be chosen as a Dragoneye--an apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune.

But Eon has a dangerous secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been masquerading as a boy for the chance to become a Dragoneye. Females are forbidden to use Dragon Magic; if anyone discovers she has been hiding in plain sight, her death is assured.

When Eon's secret threatens to come to light, she and her allies are plunged into grave danger and a deadly struggle for the Imperial throne. Eon must find the strength and inner power to battle those who want to take her magic...and her life. (Goodreads)



The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

This tells the poignant tale of a Chinese farmer and his family in old agrarian China. The humble Wang Lung glories in the soil he works, nurturing the land as it nurtures him and his family. Nearby, the nobles of the House of Hwang consider themselves above the land and its workers; but they will soon meet their own downfall.

Hard times come upon Wang Lung and his family when flood and drought force them to seek work in the city. The working people riot, breaking into the homes of the rich and forcing them to flee. When Wang Lung shows mercy to one noble and is rewarded, he begins to rise in the world, even as the House of Hwang falls. (Goodreads)





The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Amir is the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, a member of the ruling caste of Pashums. Hassan, his servant and constant companion, is a Hazara, a despised and impoverished caste. Their uncommon bond is torn by Amir's choice to abandon his friend amidst the increasing ethnic, religious, and political tensions of the dying years of the Afghan monarchy, wrenching them far apart. But so strong is the bond between the two boys that Amir journeys back to a distant world, to try to right past wrongs against the only true friend he ever had.

The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies. (Goodreads)

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

A moving story about two women set in Afghanistan. The book's story illustrates both the second class, serf-like treatment of two women and their subjection to physical and emotional brutality that was allowed, enabled and endorsed. We also get to see the bravery, kindness and self-resilience of these same two women. Despite the harsh reality of the story, the humanness and compassion shown by both women while trying to survive in such a brutal and oppressive environment is very uplifting. (Goodreads)











Little Bee by Chris Cleave

WE DON'T WANT TO TELL YOU TOO MUCH ABOUT THIS BOOK. It is a truly special story and we don't want to spoil it. Nevertheless, you need to know something, so we will just say this: It is extremely funny, but the African beach scene is horrific. The story starts there, but the book doesn't. And it's what happens afterward that is most important. Once you have read it, you'll want to tell everyone about it. When you do, please don't tell them what happens either. The magic is in how it unfolds. (Goodreads)











Books Featuring Diversity That I Want to Read

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

This novel tells the story of the rise and fall of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the family. It is a rich and brilliant chronicle of life and death, and the tragicomedy of humankind. In the noble, ridiculous, beautiful, and tawdry story of the family, one sees all of humanity, just as in the history, myths, growth, and decay of Macondo, one sees all of Latin America.

Love and lust, war and revolution, riches and poverty, youth and senility -- the variety of life, the endlessness of death, the search for peace and truth -- these universal themes dominate the novel. Whether he is describing an affair of passion or the voracity of capitalism and the corruption of government, Gabriel Garcia Marquez always writes with the simplicity, ease, and purity that are the mark of a master. (Goodreads)


Native Son by Richard Wright

Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Wright's powerful novel is an unsparing reflection on the poverty and feelings of hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities across the country and of what it means to be black in America. (Goodreads)
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

The number one bestseller in Mexico and America for almost two years, and subsequently a bestseller around the world, "Like Water For Chocolate" is a romantic, poignant tale, touched with moments of magic, graphic earthiness, bittersweet wit - and recipes.

A sumptuous feast of a novel, it relates the bizarre history of the all-female De La Garza family. Tita, the youngest daughter of the house, has been forbidden to marry, condemned by Mexican tradition to look after her mother until she dies. But Tita falls in love with Pedro, and he is seduced by the magical food she cooks. In desperation, Pedro marries her sister Rosaura so that he can stay close to her. For the next twenty-two years, Tita and Pedro are forced to circle each other in unconsummated passion. Only a freakish chain of tragedies, bad luck and fate finally reunite them against all the odds. (Goodreads)

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it -- from garden seeds to Scripture -- is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa. (Goodreads)










The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride

In "The Color of Water," McBride retraces his mother's footsteps and, through her searing and spirited voice, recreates her remarkable story. The daughter of a failed itinerant Orthodox rabbi, she was born Rachel Shilsky (actually Ruchel Dwara Zylska) in Poland on April 1, 1921. Fleeing pogroms, her family emigrated to America and ultimately settled in Suffolk, Virginia, a small town where anti-Semitism and racial tensions ran high. With candor and immediacy, Ruth describes her parents' loveless marriage; her fragile, handicapped mother; her cruel, sexually-abusive father; and the rest of the family and life she abandoned. (Goodreads)







In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez

It is November 25, 1960, and three beautiful sisters have been found near their wrecked Jeep at the bottom of a 150-foot cliff on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. The official state newspaper reports their deaths as accidental. It does not mention that a fourth sister lives. Nor does it explain that the sisters were among the leading opponents of Gen. Rafael Leonidas Trujillo’s dictatorship. It doesn’t have to. Everybody knows of Las Mariposas—“The Butterflies.”

In this extraordinary novel, the voices of all four sisters—Minerva, Patria, María Teresa, and the survivor, Dedé—speak across the decades to tell their own stories, from hair ribbons and secret crushes to gunrunning and prison torture, and to describe the everyday horrors of life under Trujillo’s rule. Through the art and magic of Julia Alvarez’s imagination, the martyred Butterflies live again in this novel of courage and love, and the human cost of political oppression. (Goodreads)


I actually own One Hundred Years of Solitude, The Color of Water and In the Time of Butterflies, so I have no excuse for not reading them yet. Have you read any of these books? If so, did you love them and would you recommend them? Let me know in the comments!


74 comments:

  1. Great post, I haven't read any of the novels you mentioned that you read and loved but I have heard good things about them. One Hundred Years of Solitude and Like Water for Chocolate are fantastic novels, I hope you enjoy them :)

    - Lianne @ caffeinatedlife.net

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  2. If I would be rich, I would travel the world too. Oh, all the places I would able to see in a year <3 Haha, I really like Eon! I'm reading Eona next month for my book club and I can't wait.

    Mel@thedailyprophecy

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    1. Yay! I hope you enjoy it, and I'm anxious to see what you think :)

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  3. In went through a big Pearl Buck phase at one point and read everything the library had by her. It certainly gave me a new appreciation for how much freedom women have in the US now. This is a great list of books.

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    1. Thank you! I'll have to read more by Pearl Buck someday

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  4. There are so many books that I like. I love to read books that take me inside a culture I have never experienced before.

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    1. Same! It's so neat to explore other cultures!

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  5. Those are all great books. I love Pearl Buck! The Color of Water was fantastic.

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  6. You have a great list here. Recently I read Diary of a Part Time Indian and liked it.

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    1. That's another one I want to read! I should have included it. Whoops haha

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  7. Maus by Art Spiegelman is a powerful graphic novel about the importance of diversity.

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    1. That one looks really good! I can't wait to pick it up. Thanks for the recommendation!

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  8. I recently finished American Dervish. It was really powerful and I'm still thinking about the characters!

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    1. I will have to check it out. Thanks for putting it on my radar! :D

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  9. Thanks for hosting the giveaway! And you've featured some fantastic diverse books. I absolutely love The Good Earth. I also have big plans to dive into some of Barbara Kingsolver's fiction later this year. I've enjoyed her non-fiction so far.

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  10. Memoirs of a Geisha was one of my favourites. I remember reading A Bend in the River by V.S Naipaul when I was at college but it just wasn't my cup of tea!
    Suzy Turner, Fiction Dreams

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    1. Memoirs of a Geisha was sooooo good! Loved it!

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  11. Oh wow, you have really great books listed! Out of the ones you're considering I can absolutely recommend The Poisonwood Bible...whew, great read!

    Thanks so much for this giveaway! I hope you're having a good week :D

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    1. Yay, I really hope I love it too! And you're welcome! I hope you're having a good week as well. :D

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  12. I loved 100 years...I was intimidated by its heft but it turned out to be great!

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    1. I look forward to reading it :D Someday soon!

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  13. Well, since you went and listed some of my faves, I should mention that The Poisonwood Bible and The Good Earth are both ah-mazing diverse reads!

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    1. Yay! Good to hear! I cannot wait to read The Poisonwood Bible!

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  14. Great list of books! The Color of Water was a favorite read for our book club.

    Joy's Book Blog

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  15. The good earth read it more then once.

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  16. Love in the time of Cholera!

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  17. I recently read and loved And the Mountains Echoed. I have yet to read the Hosseini books you mentioned, but they're on my TBR.

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    1. I've been meaning to get And the Mountains Echoed! I'm glad you loved it.

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  18. Oh man - so many of those books are just amazing. Hosseini is one of my favorites and I really loved Little Bee, though I agree it's not good to know too much going in!

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    1. Yeah, Little Bee is hard to talk about without spoiling the plot.

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  19. I recently read One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva and loved it! I thought it was a very REAL look into the life of a LGBT youth. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  20. Nice list! I've only read One Hundred Years of Solitude, so I'll have to add some of these to my TBR list. :)

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  21. I liked Things Fall Apart! I have One Hundred Years of Solitude in my TBR pile to read next! Thanks for this amazing giveaway - I would love to win!

    Suz Reads

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  22. Some of my favorite books featuring diversity are Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (LGBT and person of color characters), We Were Here by Matt de la Peña (POC, "road trip"/running away from a group home) and anything by Yoshimoto Banana. And I also loved Like Water for Chocolate :)

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    1. Yay! Great to hear! I hope to read it soon. Thanks for the recommendations :D

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  23. I really liked the Kite Runner! Now I want to read A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini!

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    1. You should! It's just as good, if not better :D

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  24. I read both THE KITERUNNER and A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS; against popular opinion, I feel SUNS was best.

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  25. By the way, another book based on diversity, THE ORPHAN MASTER'S SON, I hated.

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  26. Oh my gosh, I LOVE that you included Native Son in this post. That's actually part of my diversity-based giveaway today. :) One of my favorites - I ended up reading everything by Richard Wright after I read Native Son in high school.

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    1. Oooo I'll have to stop by! I want to read it so badly!

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  27. Kiterunner was too intense for me when I read it several years ago, maybe I should reread it now that I enjoy more than just chick lit. I love books that are set all over the world. I talked about in my post the books that helped me with my cultural identity crisis and a new Travel the World through Books Reading Challenge I hope to start this summer. I hope you stop by!

    http://momssmallvictories.com/armchair-bea-travel-the-world-through-books/

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    1. Forgot to say, I just finished The Shadow of the Wind, set in Spain, gorgeous, beautiful book with quite a tragic mystery and hint of romance. Great book for book lovers.

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    2. I absolutely love The Shadow of the Wind! I just read it recently. Thanks for stopping by! :D

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  28. Not sure if this counts, but I loved Wonder that spoke about diversity in the form of prejudice against appearance.

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  29. One of the most recent diverse books I read is We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo, which I loved! Thanks for this giveaway!

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  30. I really wanna read Khalid Hosseni's books.

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  31. You post mentioned the books that came to mind! Thanks for the giveaway.

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  32. Look at you racking in the comments! :)
    And, well, I did suggest quite a few that you mentioned here. I'm so happy you want to read The Poisonwood Bible, Native Son, In the Time of the Butterflies, One Hundred Years of Solitude!
    Usually when I think about diverse books to recommend, I do tend to go to Latino authors like Garcia Marquez or Allende. I really need to read Like Water for Chocolate! Boy Snow Bird also deals with diversity in 1950s America. I'll have to think of some more.

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  33. Like Water for Chocolate and The Kite Runner

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  34. I recently finished Eon and Eona and it was awesome!!

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  35. I loved The Good Earth and Eon and Eona! Also, The Kite Runner. You've chosen so many great books! I'm really curious about Little Bee though, so I'll have to look out for it! Happy Armchair BEA!

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  36. I am in the middle of Eon now! I have been to Italy and I loved it! :)

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  37. Oh, you picked two of my favorites! I was going to say The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns but you beat me to it :)! I would also say just about every book by Charles Dickens deals with diversity and hardship and I have always really enjoyed those.

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  39. Orleans by Sherri L. Smith has been my top recommendation for diverse YA. The MC is A female of color and the author is African American. I gave it one of my rare five stsr ratings. It is a YA dystopian novel.

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  40. My book for diversity is actually more fantasy/sci fi. It features an alien race with time travel abilities along with a variety of human characters from different cultures and different eras.

    TimeMasters by Geralyn Beauchamp Book 1 The Call is .99 right now and Book 2 The Prophecy she is planning to release in ebook in about a week. I talk a bit about it in my Beyond Borders post

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  41. I just read a great YA book featuring diversity: Drawing Amanda.

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  42. Waiting For the Rain by Sheila Gordon features the Apartheid is one of my favourites

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  43. I like that the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews features characters with different nationalities. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  44. If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan.

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