Tag Archives: ambassador

Which book to read before visiting a new country that has different culture than yours?

2017-07-07

Planning a visit to a country where you haven’t been before often starts with research. Many travelers purchase a guidebook, some tourists search the Internet for tips. Usually, people are looking for reliable information to help plan the trip. Fictional books may also help because they can give insight on the culture and customs of a country.

Ambassadors of 22 countries have given their recommendations which books can give cultural tips for visitors. Based on the books ambassadors have chosen and their descriptions, the most peculiar titles are from Bhutan, Finland, Germany and New Zealand.

Here are the ambassadors’ recommended books to read before the first visit to these 22 countries.

    Austria: The Tobacconist by Robert Seethaler. Vienna in 1937.

    Azerbaijan: Ali and Nino, by Kurban Said. Love story set in Baku in 1918 to 1920.
    book cover: portrait of bhutan
    Belgium: War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans. A period in Belgium’s history.

    Bhutan: Treasures of the Thunder Dragon: A Portrait of Bhutan by Her Majesty the Queen Mother Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck. A personal memoir combined with folklore, and even a portrait of the Himalayan kingdom.

    Canada: With Faith and Goodwill: 150 years of Canada-U.S. Friendship, edited by Arthur Milnes. Collection of speeches, photographs and essays.

    Chile: La Casa de Los Espíritus by Isabel Allende. Family mingled with political issues of the 1970s.
    book cover: moomin, mymble, my
    Colombia: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. A classic.

    Denmark: Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg. Fictional mystery set in Copenhagen.

    Estonia: The Man Who Spoke Snakish by Andrus Kivirahk. Alternative history.

    Finland: The Book about Moomin, Mymble and Little My by Tove Jansson. A classic.

    Germany: Tschick by Wolfgang Herrndorf. 14-year-old boys on a road trip.

    Greece: Freedom and Death by Nikos Kazantzakis. Cretans against the Ottoman Empire in 1889.
    book cover: tschick, germany
    Iceland: Independent People by Halldor Laxness. Sheep farmer’s struggle for independence.

    India: Freedom at Midnight (1975) by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins. Indian independence process.

    Ireland: TransAtlantic by Colum McCann. History and recent events intertwined.

    Jamaica: Selected Poems by Louise Bennet. Insights into the Jamaican culture.

    Malta: In the Name of the Father (And of the Son) by Immanuel Mifsud. World War II from personal perspective.
    book cover: whale rider, new zealand
    New Zealand: The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera. A story of communication with whales.

    Norway: The Snowman by Jo Nesbo. Nordic Noir crime story.

    Slovenia: I Saw Her That Night by Drago Jančar. Historical theme set in Ljubljana.

    Sweden: Nordic Ways edited by Debra Cagan. Essays that describe life in the North Europe.

    United Kingdom: Atonement by Ian McEwan. Britain’s history in the 20th century.

The book titles via CN Traveler.

Some notable, popular travel destination countries that have distinct cultures are missing from the book list, for instance, France and the US. I can understand why France’s ambassador probably didn’t suggest a book for the list. Independent of which title it would have been, a national scandal would have emerged from the choice. Perhaps the US ambassador was pondering between Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad and Donald Trump biography A Life Worth Living, but couldn’t decide?