There are many methods we can use to explore the world and different cultures: we can travel, watch movies and even play online classic slots. For example, the Extra Chilli slot can teach us a lot about Mexican culture. Still, we can say that reading books is the best way to get to know different cultures. Books on countries and cultures broaden our horizons and help us understand the world and everything it offers. If you want to embark on such a journey, this article will be very useful: Below, we list the best books written on different cultures and countries.
“If someone asks me what this book is about, I answer him it’s about everything in the world. Gregory David Roberts did for Bombay just as Lawrence Durrell did for Alexandria, Melville’s Great Ocean, and Thoreau’s Walden Lake. He made Bombay a place to be remembered forever in world literature.” These words are from Pat Conroy and show what you should expect from Shantaram. Published in 2003, this book is actually a biography: it tells the story of Gregory David Roberts, a convicted bank thief from Australia. Roberts goes to India to hide after escaping from Pentridge Prison. Actually, this country is his last stop before fleeing to Germany, but Roberts decides to spend some more time in India.
This decision changes the rest of his life. Roberts travels all over India to meet local culture, and one of the people he meets calls him Shantaram: a term that means “Man of God’s Peace.” But don’t think that this is a spiritual journey: Roberts doesn’t become a “peaceful monk” at the end of it. On the contrary, he smuggles for the local mafia, buys weapons on behalf of the Afghan mafia and goes back to prison at some point. Although he has decided to live an honest life at the end of his journey, most of his life was spent as a “prince of crime.” Shantaram is therefore an impressive and striking book: you learn everything you need to know about India and witness different aspects of local life, while following an exciting story.
The Asian Saga
If you are interested in ancient cultures, especially ancient Asian cultures, The Asian Saga by James Clavell will be the best book series you can read. Written between 1962 and 1993, there are a total of 6 novels in this series. Each takes place in a different period and shows different aspects of Asian cultures. The reading order for this series is as follows: Shōgun (feudal Japan, 1600), Tai-Pan (Hong Kong, 1841), Gai-Jin (Japan, 1862), King Rat (Singapore, 1945), Noble House (Hong Kong, 1963) and Whirlwind (Iran, 1979). The four books of the series tell the story of a trading company called Struan. You witness the stories of the founder and heirs of the company in different historical periods. For the same reason, you can see the change of Asian cultures throughout history.
There are more than a dozen important characters in the series, but they are all connected in some way: The Asian Saga prefers to tell the past and present of Asian cultures through the stories of different characters. If you want, you can also watch the movie of the series: in 2006, the first four books were adapted for TV. Clavell was planning to continue the series, but his death in 1994 brought the end of The Asian Saga.
The Kite Runner
Afghan-American writer Khaled Hosseini provides us with a close look at the civil war and local culture in Afghanistan, which has been on the agenda for many years with political turmoil and wars. Published in 2003, the novel deals with topics such as paternal love, sacrifice, lies and betrayal and tells the story of two children named Emir and Hasan. These children grow up in very different conditions in terms of their social classes. Emir’s father is among the wealthy people of Afghanistan, while Hasan’s father works as a servant alongside Emir’s father.
While Hasan feels unconditional love and devotion to Emir, Emir constantly humiliates him. One day, Hasan’s sacrifice to make Emir happy at the Kite Festival results in a very bad event. Even though Emir witnessed this incident, he does not take steps to intervene. Moreover, he continues his hostile attitude towards Hasan. With the start of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Emir and his father migrated to the USA, like many people living in the region. Emir, who lives here with his father in a poorer state than his former life, constantly suffers remorse due to the persecution he inflicted on Hasan. And one day, he gets news about Hasan and rushes back to Afghanistan. What Emir learns here changes the flow of the story from beginning to end. The book, which remained on the NYT Bestseller list for two years, sold more than seven million copies in the US alone. A film adaptation is also available, and it is considered the best depiction of Afghan culture.
If you like the book, you can read “A Thousand Splendid Suns,” also written by Khaled Hosseini. The book has nothing to do with Kite Runner, but it still describes Afghan culture. This time, it touches on the place of girls and women in local culture and talks about the story of two women who were forced to marry the same abusive husband. This book also made it to the NYT Bestseller list, and we can say that it is more impressive than The Kite Runner in many ways.