6 min read

2023 Reading List

2023 Reading List
Photo by Gülfer ERGİN / Unsplash

We are back with our second installment of The Wanderers' Reading List. We have a great deal more countries represented this year (~25), as we traveled full-time for the whole calendar year. We once again read a slew of different genres and styles. If you want to catch up on last year's books you can find the Reading List here:

2022 Reading List
One of the benefits of traveling is being exposed to different cultures. On this Odyssey, we have the privilege of immersing ourselves in countless different experiences. To deepen our understanding of the places we are visiting, and bolster the amount that we can learn while walking through historic sights, we

There are so many things we learned this year and such a wide variety of landscapes we were able to travel to both in person and through these texts. While it is always a pleasure to engage with an author's writing, there were a few standouts for us this year that we would like to recommend:

  • Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie was an impactful read. This author's incredible mastery over the use of punctuation was a complete game-changer. It is a lesson in the art and craftsmanship of writing for any reader.
  • Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman is a retelling of the Norse myths. Mr. Gaiman lends his wit and crafty storytelling to tales that are designed for the gods. These epic adventures tell of the mead of poets and the land of giants. It will make you yearn for Scandinavian winters and stories told by the warmth of a hearth.
  • Night by the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Eli Wiesel is incredible for a reason. The narrative is impactful, honest, and will break your heart. It is a meaningful read and one worth devoting the time to.
  • The Dinner by Herman Koch was one of Mr. Wanderer's favorite thrillers. This slow-burn is an onion (ya know, it has layers). Witnessing the story unfold along with the gut-punching themes will leave you anxious about what is coming next.
  • King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Hochschild was a journalistic breakdown of the meticulous planning that went into acquiring and plundering the Congo and the populations that lived within it. Mr. Hochschild lays out the politics, propaganda, lies, manipulation, and every other salacious detail in a way that leaves you entertained while simultaneously boiling with retroactive ire.
  • The Knight in the Panther Skin by Shota Rustaveli is the only poem to make our recommendations list in 2023. This epic tale was a fun departure from the standard novels we read and danced around themes of brotherhood, love, and loss. The poetry was beautiful in English so I cannot imagine its allure in the original text.
  • The Hundred Year's War on Palestine by Rashid Khalidi was a selection made as a direct result of the political upheaval seen this fall as well as our planned (but unfortunately canceled) intentions to travel to the region at that time. This text is incredibly clear on which side it is advocating for; however, does a fair job of outlining key historical steps that have led to the situation we are in today. In conjunction with additional perspectives, it is a well-researched and thorough explanation of a highly relevant topic.
  • A Place Called Home by David Ambroz is a memoir outlining the gaps in our existing system for supporting struggling families. From his early years, Mr. Ambroz bounced between schools, battling homelessness, and eventually found himself in the American foster care system. He intelligently outlines where the system is failing our children and proposes his solutions to these considerations. His tale is artfully told and it takes all you have not to crawl into these pages to try and help the little boy he once was.
  • The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis is not a new tale but made for an interesting break in the history-rich texts of many of our country books. This is a short novel but it is meant to be consumed slowly and deliberately.

Our goal in recording the below titles, along with much of our content, is to share things - the places we visit and the media we consume are part of that. We want to put out what is educating us and what is inspiring us. We are vessels to help spread awareness about all of the ways we can continue to learn and grow as we move through life.

Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie

[Wiki] [India] [Fiction] [Magical Realism]

Themes: colonialism; modern gender roles; nationalism; personal identity; the partitions between us; religion; fate; unreliable narrators; and, individuality vs. the plurality.

Celestial Bodies - Jokha Alharthi

[Wiki] [Oman] [Fiction] [Realism]

Themes: tradition vs. progress; feminism; responsibility; and, freedom.

Norse Mythology - Neil Gaiman

[Wiki] [Norway; Iceland; Denmark; Sweden] [Non-Fiction] [Religion; Mythology]

Themes: wisdom; the ethics of trickery to achieve a goal; acting on our fears can fulfill them; hubris; and, beliefs.

Hunger - Knut Hamsun

[Wiki] [Norway] [Fiction] [Psychological]

Themes: hunger (literal and spiritual); pride; the human psyche; individual vs. society; poverty; unreliable narrators; and, self-awareness vs. self-delusion.

Night - Elie Wiesel

[Wiki] [Germany; Romania] [Non-Fiction] [Historical; Memoir]

Themes: man's inhumanity; struggling with faith in suffering; God's plan and mercy; the father-son relationship; forced inaction during oppression; and, guilt.

Metamorphosis - Franz Kafka

[Wiki] [Czech Republic] [Fiction] [Magical Realism]

Themes: responsibility; capitalism; mind and body connection; existentialism; the limits of sympathy; alienation; and, obligation.

The Dinner - Herman Koch

[Wiki] [Netherlands] [Fiction] [Psychological; Realism]

Themes: family; politics; socio-economic class; justice systems; the wealthy; homelessness; dark ethical dilemma; empathy; spoiled children; and, mental illness.

Land of Big Numbers - Te-Ping Chen

[Author Wiki] [China; USA] [Fiction] [Realism; Political]

Themes: clashing cultures; familial duty; drive; individualism; and, freedom.

King Leopold's Ghost - Adam Hochschild

[Wiki] [Belgium; Republic of the Congo; Democratic Republic of the Congo] [Non-Fiction] [Historical; Political; Journalism]

Themes: colonialism; racism; imperialism; ambition; the world's apathy to impoverished suffering; economics; the monarchy; journalistic integrity vs. propaganda; religious righteousness vs. weaponized ideology; oppression; the secret costs of progress in a globalized world; counter-Western narratives on African history; and, activism.

Dubliners - James Joyce

[Wiki] [Ireland] [Fiction] [Realism]

Themes: ambition; cycles of trauma; mundane routine; restlessness; and, alcoholism.

Broken April - Ismail Kadare

[Wiki] [Albania] [Fiction] [Historical]

Themes: moral codes; societal and familial obligation; trauma tourism; purpose; and, the ethics of death.

The Cellist of Sarajevo - Steven Galloway

[Wiki] [Bosnia and Herzegovina] [Fiction] [Historical]

Themes: cruelty; beauty in the face of adversity; ethics of death; disillusionment; and, hope.

Faceless Killers - Henning Mankell

[Wiki] [Sweden] [Fiction] [Crime]

Themes: immigration; racism; leaders' duty to guide the public; never giving up; and, work-life balance.

Don Quixote - Miguel De Cervantes

[Wiki] [Spain] [Fiction] [Classic; Adventure]

Themes: delusions of grandeur; tradition and chivalry in the modern world; heroism; growth in redemption; and, loyalty.

Blindness - José Saramago

[Wiki] [Portugal] [Fiction] [Horror; Psychological]

Themes: humanity; innate evil; fear; what we will do to survive; autonomy; the fragility of our modern world; and, complex ethical dilemma.

The Ugly Duckling and Other Stories - Hans Christen Andersen

[Wiki] [Denmark] [Fiction] [Fairy Tale]

Themes: self-worth; identity; love; bravery; loyalty; and, who we can trust.

The Museum of Innocence - Orhan Pamuk

[Wiki] [Türkiye] [Fiction] [Romance]

Themes: lust; east vs. west; arrogance; loss of innocence / coming of age; class; relationships; heartbreak; and, what even is love.

Uncommon Ground - Tim Keller

[Author Wiki] [USA] [Non-Fiction] [Religion]

Themes: dual identities; countering American narratives; immigration; authoritative communism and trust; and, war.

Ali and Nino - Kurban Said

[Wiki] [Azerbaijan] [Fiction] [Romance]

Themes: religious intersectionality; east vs. west; forbidden love; family duty vs. personal yearnings; traditional norms vs. young ideas; community identity; and, sacrifice during relationships.

The Knight in the Panther Skin - Shota Rustaveli

[Wiki] [Georgia] [Poetry] [Romance; Adventure]

Themes: love; fidelity; brotherhood; honor; service; empathy; and, perseverance.

The Year of the Hare - Arto Paasilinna

[Wiki] [Finland] [Fiction] [Realism; Adventure]

Themes: the rat race; nature; simplicity; purpose; injustice; and, starting anew.

When the Doves Disappeared - Sofi Oksanen

[Author's Wiki] [Estonia; Finland] [Fiction] [Historical]

Themes: communism; safety in oppression; betrayal; ambition; and, nationalism.

The Man Who Spoke Snakish - Andrus Kivirähk

[Wiki] [Estonia] [Fiction] [Fantasy]

Themes: tradition vs. progression; cultural superiority; our place in changing societies; violence; and, nature.

The Hundred Years' War on Palestine - Rashid Khalidi

[Wiki] [Palestine; Israel] [Non-Fiction] [Political; Historical]

Themes: colonialism (past and modern); competing ideologies; identity; counter-Western narratives on the Middle East and Israel; violence; resistance in the face of oppression; global politics; religion; and, war.

Elantris - Brandon Sanderson

[Wiki] [USA] [Fiction] [Fantasy]

Themes: persecution; politics; religious weaponization; and, duty.

A Place Called Home - David Ambroz

[USA] [Non-Fiction] [Memoir; Political]

Themes: welfare systems (foster care); homelessness; resilience in the face of broken systems; and, family.

The Diary of a Young Girl - Anne Frank

[Wiki] [Netherlands] [Non-Fiction] [Autobiography]

Themes: youth; family; coping with trauma; coming of age; survival; and, war.

The Screwtape Letters - C.S. Lewis

[Wiki] [United Kingdom] [Fiction] [Religion]

Themes: devil's advocate; vices; slow fade to sin; theology; and, humanities' need for community.

Live in Love - Lauren Akins

[Author's Wiki] [USA] [Non-Fiction] [Memoir]

Themes: family; faith; loss; parenthood styles; community; and, fate.

The Outlander Series - Diana Gabaldon

Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber, Voyager, and Drums of Autumn

[Wiki] [USA] [Fiction] [Fantasy; Historical]

Themes: war; what is true love; self-preservation; destiny; and, redemption.

Remarkably Bright Creatures - Shelby Van Pelt

[USA] [Fiction] [Realism]

Themes: kindness; and, it's never too late.

Untamed - Glennon Doyle

[Wiki] [USA] [Non-Fiction] [Memoir]

Themes: feminism and the patriarchy; one's potential; sexuality; and, choosing optimism.