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Chapter 10 - An Invisible Thread

One of the best things about walking the beach when we do is the people who also get their butts out of bed to enjoy the early morning sun and sand. There is such a variety of people - young and old, singles and couples, people with children. Add to that the diversity of backgrounds and cultures and you have a wonderful mix of people just enjoying the beach. It is a rare moment when a greeting or smile is not returned. Even the joggers give a head nod!

This morning we talked about the different people who come to the beach. The discussion then lead to books about other cultures. Being a traveler, both of the physical and armchair variety, I have always enjoyed books that take me someplace else or out of my own skin. Here are some of my favorites:

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck - The first time I read this was in high school and I was mesmerized by China in the early 1900's. Winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1932, The Good Earth resurfaced in 2004 when Oprah Winfrey selected it for her book club. It is an unforgettable novel.

The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar - Taking place in modern day Bombay, The Space Between Us tells the story of two men, one the wife of a prosperous middle class man and the other, her illiterate servant. Umrigar's story highlights the good, the bad, and the ugly of present day India.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini - While many people like Hosseini's The Kite Runner, this is my favorite of his, so far. The story centers around Mariam, an illegimate child married off at a young age to Rasheed, and Laila, a relatively privileged young woman who becomes Rasheed's second wife. Spanning a period of 45 years, the reader gets a good understanding of the changes Afghanistan has been through during that time period and the impact it has had on the citizens.

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow - Because reading about different cultures to me also means learning about people who are not like me, I am adding this book. Rachel, the daughter of a Danish mother and a black GI is the sole survivor of a family tragedy. Coming from an environment where race is less of an issue, she comes to live with her African American grandmother in a mostly black community. Rachel's biracial attributes bring mixed attention in a society that wants to label her either white or black.

The People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks - No list of books of other cultures would be complete without a nod to religion. In this book, Brooks tells the store of Hannah Heath, a book conservator tasked with restoring an ancient Jewish illuminated text. The tale goes back and forth between present day and the past as the history of the text is brought to life.

So, what books get you out of your skin?

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