I Am Malala by Malala Yousafsai (Little, Brown and Company, 2013) is a powerful story of a girl’s courage to stand up against wrong and demand an education in the Taliban-controlled regions of Pakistan. The work done by Malala, who still is a teenager, is so remarkable that she became the youngest receipt of the Nobel Peace

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My grandfather was born in Hreljin in 1923, when it was Yugoslavia and in what is now Croatia. When I heard about Yugoslavian Ivo Andric’s 1945 novel The Bridge on the Drina, I had hoped for a glimpse of what life was like in my ancestor’s homeland during a tumultuous time. Although my grandfather’s home

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Eliezer Wiesel was a deeply observant 13-year-old Jewish boy when Moishe the Beadle came to his town with descriptions of the horrors of the war, where Jewish men, women, and children were buried in graves they had themselves dug. No one in Eliezer’s town of Sighet in Hungary believed this was happening. It only a

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Knut Hamsun’s Hunger is about pride in being human, the ridiculousness of everyday life, and the hopelessness of the two of those combined. As the title may suggest, the unnamed narrator is a hungry starving artist, struggling to write to earn money to pay for a meal. His life physically depends on his ability to

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My interest in rereading East of Eden by John Steinbeck was purely personal: reading it the first time was what prompted me to start a book blog in the first place. I enjoyed my reread, mostly because Steinbeck’s writing is so incredible. The themes of good versus evil in human nature still felt universal to

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Nobel laureate (1968) Yasunari Kawabata is obviously talented at describing scenes, and there was, in The Old Capital, something refreshing about a slow-paced story of a young woman coming into a realization of herself. In her free time, Chieko would see the cherry blossoms and visit the cedar forests. It was a celebration of the

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In my reading journal a few weeks ago, I mentioned that I may want to reread The Good Earth many times. I may need to amend that. The writing was beautiful. I loved Pearl Buck’s almost Biblical prose that just flowed like poetry. And yet, probably a dozen times, I almost stopped listening to the

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