There are a lot of reasons to read. Increased vocabulary, inexpensive entertainment, and more importantly, a chance to be immersed in a new world. In order to give readers the biggest chance to explore, I thought I’d compose a list of my favourite books authored by people outside of North America. Grab your favourite blanket and make yourself a cup of tea, because these books will keep you busy for a while!
1. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
Part sci-fi, part alternate reality, part what-is-happening-here this book is a wild ride from start to finish. Following Aoamame, an assassin who murders for one woman known as The Dowager, and Tengo, a writer who’s been asked to rewrite someone else’s provoking but badly written work, these two must navigate being thrust into a parallel universe so that they can find their way back to the original one amidst a cast of eccentric and intriguing characters. This novel is the kind you put down only when you’re finished and have a free night to spend questioning life. I promise you won’t regret a second of it!
2. The Little Prince by Antoine de St. Exupery
A beautiful novella that focuses on the innocence of children and the wonders of imagination, The Little Prince is a gem on its own. Although it can seem childish at first, it addresses many adult themes and lots of social criticism. It has some gorgeous statements such as “You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.” This book is relatively standard for any French learner to pick up due to it being a relatively light read, and even reading it in its English form packs a powerful message and an enjoyable quick read.
3. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
My personal favourite on this list, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, is about Renée Michel, a hotel concierge who hides her intelligence from the world only to have it uncovered by a precocious girl named Paloma Josse and encouraged by a Japanese businessman named Kakuro Ozu. I love the simplicity of this novel and the message it sends about how damaging your own self-perceptions can be. It’s incredibly sentimental and in the end, heartwarming.
4. The Tempest by William Shakespeare
I couldn’t do a list of must-reads and not mention William Shakespeare – one of the most shaping authors of our time. Although I highly encourage you to read (or see) all of his works, The Tempest is my personal favourite. I’m a big fan of fantasy and this play follows a father, Prospero, who is also a magician, and his daughter Miranda as they try to rectify a past injustice done to them. With quirky characters such as Ariel, a tree spirit, and Stephano (a drunken steward) this play is fast paced and upbeat, a welcome change from Shakespeare’s tragedies.
5. House of the Spirits by Isabe Allende
This is another novel I’ve enjoyed! This one passes by as almost an airy dream of the main character Clara del Valle and the four generations of her family around her. Although it can come off as a tale about the rich who have time to dabble with their own spiritual powers, it quickly delves into a military coup and the resulting fear and pain it brings to the country and all within it.
6. The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis
I debated putting this book on the list as it is a children’s novel, but I definitely don’t think that’s caused it to lose any of its poignancy. It follows the life of Parvana, a young girl living in Afghanistan who has lost her father to the Taliban and must dress as a boy in order to earn money for her family. It’s a heartbreaking story that helps put into perspective just how lucky we are to have access to education and other valuable opportunities. It’s also one of the shorter books on the list if you’re looking for something quick!