In the words of Charles William Eliot: “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”
Over the years, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa have produced world-class authors who have given us exceptional reading material. If you’ve never picked up any of these books below, we suggest you do so soon!
1. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is about the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure as extravagant as any ever found. From his home is Spain he journeys to the markets of Tangiers and across the Egyptian desert to a fateful encounter with the alchemist. The story of the treasure Santiago finds along our hearts, learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path and above all following our dreams.
2. The Head of the Saint by Socorro Acioli – After walking for days across the harsh Brazilian landscape only to be rejected by his last living relative, Samuel finds his options for survival are dwindling fast – until he comes to the hollow head of a statue, perfect for a boy to crawl into and hide.
3. The Vanishing Futurist by Charlotte Hobson – When twenty-two-year-old Gerty Freely travels to Russia to work as a governess in early 1914, she has no idea of the vast political upheavals ahead, nor how completely her fate will have shaped by them.
4. City of Thieves by David Benioff – During the Nazis’ brutal siege of Leningrad, Lev Beniov is arrested for looting and thrown into the same cell as a handsome deserter named Kolya. Instead of being executed, Lev and Kolya are given a shot at saving their own lives by complying with an outrageous directive: secure a dozen eggs for a powerful Soviet colonel to use in his daughter’s wedding cake. In a city cut off from all supplies and suffering unbelievable deprivation, Lev and Kolya embark on a hunt through the dire lawlessness of Leningrad and behind enemy lines to find the impossible.
5. The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni traces the princess Panchaali’s life, beginning with her birth in fire and following her spirited balancing as a woman with five husbands who have been cheated out of their father’s kingdom. Panchaali is swept into their quest to reclaim their birthright, remaining at their side through years of exile and a terrible civil war involving all the important kings of India.
6. The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga – This novel is about an Indian man from an impoverished background, born in the village of Laxmangarh. He transcended his humble beginnings to become a successful entrepreneur in Bangalore, largely through the murder Mr Ashok, his former employer. Balram also makes clear that because of the murder, it is likely that his own family has been massacred in retribution.
7. Please Look After Mother by Shin Kyung-Sook – A heart-wrenching tale of family sacrifice and love. It tells the story of stroke-victim and dedicated matriarch, Park So-nyo, who becomes disoriented on a city and is separated from her family.
8. The Arts of War by Sun Tzu – Conflict is an inevitable part of life, according to this ancient Chinese classic of strategy, but everything necessary to deal with conflict wisely, honourably, victoriously, is already present within us. The Art of War is still perhaps the most prestigious and influential book of strategy in the world, as eagerly studied in Asia by modern politicians and executives as it has been by military leaders since ancient times.
9. The Land is Ours by Tembeka Ngcukaitobi – The book tells the story of South Africa’s first black lawyers, who operated in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In an age of aggressive colonial expansion, land dispossession and forced labour, these men believes in a constitutional system that respected individual rights and freedoms, and the used law as an instrument against injustice.
10. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never meant to exist. It is also the story of his relationship with his fearless, rebellious and fervently religious mother – his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.