Become a Multiculturalist with These 11 Books About Different Cultures

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‘Diversity is our strength’ and ‘Multiculturalism’ are phrases that we are constantly accused of turning into meaningless buzzwords by less than amicable elements within society. Fair enough, it might have become a point of parody for online trolls to accuse us of pandering to minorities but it does in no way negate the premise of both concepts.

To diminish the impact said bad actors’ smears place upon our ultimately positive concepts it would be good to spread the knowledge of different cultures far and wide across our movement’s ranks. By becoming seriously knowledgeable in the subject of a foreign culture we can ascertain clearly why it is that a diverse and multicultural society is, ultimately, a strong society.

We can easily achieve this by encouraging the reading of these books that deeply explore the unique aspects of the cultures it describes. Take a look and broaden your cultural horizons further.

#1 Cycle of Fusion: Lost At Sea

A twist on fantasy fiction about a female hero who must help save the world when the apocalypse comes. A methaphorical new myth about grief, loss, abuse, and mental health. The world is broken up into four realms. Dwellers of Earth and Water, as well as Gods of the Sun and Moon. With all these elements combined there is balance and peace in existence. A dark shadow has covered the Earth.

The moon is turning gray and the sun begins to burn out. There is a disturbance in the universe as ocean tides and storms rage with awakened creatures, demons, gods and spirits of the forgotten centuries of old. In the first installment of the series titled Lost At Sea, Ceridwen flees her home in ashes and is sent out to sea to find the light from within as well as the power to maintain the balance of all the different forces of good and evil.

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#2 Sex and Temperament: In Three Primitive Societies by Margaret Mead

Although this book is old, it’s also fascinating and hasn’t been duplicated since its authorship. Margaret Mead’s Sex and Temperament is an investigation of three New Guinea tribes living within 100 miles of one another.

Each tribe demonstrates vastly different roles for men and women, suggesting strongly that our ideas of gender are far more culturally assigned than genetically determined. The book goes into great detail about the three societies, and this alone is worth the cover price. The interesting premise makes it all the more intriguing, especially given the close proximity the tribes have to one another.

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#3 100 Questions, 500 Nations: A Guide to Native America

This series springs from the idea that good journalism should increase cross-cultural competence and understanding. Most of our guides are created by Michigan State University journalism students.

We use journalistic interviews to surface the simple, everyday questions that people have about each other but might be afraid to ask. We use research and reporting to get the answers and then put them where people can find them, read them and learn about each other. These cultural competence guides are meant to be conversation starters.

We want people to use these guides to get some base-line understanding and to feel more comfortable asking more questions. We put a guide to resources in every guide we make, we arrange community conversations and we are working on a facilitation guide.

While the guides can answer questions in private, they are meant to spark discussions. Making these has taught us that people are not that different from each other. People share more similarities than differences. We all want the same things for ourselves and for our families. We want to be accepted, respected and understood.

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#4 The Barrios of Manta by Rhoda and Earle Brooks

In February 1962, Earle and Rhoda Brooks, a young sales engineer and his schoolteacher wife, left home and friends in Illinois to serve as members of the Peace Corps in Manta, Ecuador. This book (the first written by a Peace Corps volunteer) is an account of that experience and is a revealing chronicle of personal involvement and of people from vastly different cultures learning to know one another on the level of their common humanity.

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#5 Dark Chocolate for the Soul by Milana Perepyolkina

Why do many people think negatively about Russians? What was it like growing up in Russia? What is so different about the way Russians eat, spend their free time, and what in the world do Russians dream about?

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#6 Mount Athos: Renewal in Paradise by Graham Speake

This book is fascinating as it outlines the beginnings of the monk culture on Mount Athos, the island that only allows men and not women inside.

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#7 Afternoon Tea: A History by Julia Skinner

Covers English history and culture, of course, but also discusses how the meal moved around the world and became a global tradition that continues to this day.

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#8 The Shadow of the Sun by Ryszard Kapuscinski

The contemporary writer, Ryszard Kapuscinski, arrived in Africa in 1957 when colonial rule was being dismantled, being the first African correspondent of Poland’s state newspaper. Having experienced 27 revolutions and coups throughout his life, he has witnessed different cultures and ideologies clash and collide, which has informed this unique perspective as a novelist. In these essays, Kapuscinski describes wander ing around the Sahara with nomads, discovering Ghana’s early independence, and the tumultuous events of Rwandan liberation.

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#9 The Defender of the Faith by Prakash Lothe

Almost everyone in the Shirodkar household knows Shyam is a doomed child. The family astrologer, who is never wrong, has predicted that Shyam will encounter three, near-death accidents and will not survive the third. The question is not if but when the event will happen. As he grows up motherless in central India, Shyam is treated like a stepchild.

While fearing he will be starved, branded, and sent to an orphanage, Shyam matures within his small, poor family while the political and social upheavals of the century threaten to destroy all of them. As Shyam’s life journey leads him to a missionary college in Nagpur, he embraces Western influences that prompt him to question traditions and wisdom acquired through centuries.

While Europe heads toward war, Shyam and his orthodox Hindu father become immersed in a moral struggle that erupts from a volcano of religious fanaticism and age-old traditions. Can the two men ever reach a resolution or will Shyam be left with more questions than answers and a void he will never be able to fill?

Defender of the Faith is a powerful story of love, loss, resilience, and hope as an Indian boy comes of age and embraces Western values that cause friction between his father and him.

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#10 L’America by Joseph M. Orazi

In the decades preceding WWII, hundreds of thousands of Italians flocked to our shores in hopes of starting new lives in a land that promised freedom and opportunity. LAmerica follows the journey of three families who board the Santa Ana in 1915 through the ports of Palermo and Naples. For thirteen days, they share brutal passage in steerage.

Eventually, they settle in New York City, Cleveland, and Monterey, California. Immigration in the early twentieth century was difficult at best and assimilation proved an even greater challenge. In L’America, Orazi shares a true story of immigration and assimilation in its heyday.

Written in a poignant and succinct manner, the novel gives a glimpse of the confused and frightened Italian emigrants as they make their way to the land of the free. It tells of the harsh reality of discrimination, generational conflict, socialism, anarchism and fascism they had to endure.

The children of the three families who made that voyage in 1915, though very different in experience and response, will return to us volumes of fortitude, character, and culture, ultimately establishing their place in the tapestry they once called LAmerica.

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#11 The Girl from Copenhagen by Glenn Peterson

This memoir that tells the story of the author’s mother, Inge Buus, life and the remarkable life experiences that shaped her into an incredible wife and mother. Growing up on a family farm on the island of Falster in Denmark, Buus didn’t identify with being a farm girl and instead was determined to focus on her studies. Graduating at the top of her high school class, she moved to Copenhagen to pursue a career in nursing. Becoming a bookkeeper after being unable to move forward with nursing, life changed with the Nazi invasion of Denmark.

The frequent bombings and shooting within the city became her new normal. She finds romance with a GI from America and soon leaves behind her world in Denmark for a new adventure with him in New York City. Her incredible life story is detailed by her loving son just before her death in January 2018. Readers who long to learn more about the unique individuals living during this turbulent time in history will connect with Inge’s story and her life living with love, dreams and a sense of adventure.

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Contributors to this article
Mallory Welch from MalloryWelch

Adam Cole from Adam Cole,  A Jazz Musician Who Writes Books

Susan Stitt from Front Edge Publishing

Jay Hartman from Untreed Reads Publishing

Milana Perepyolkina from Gypsy Energy Secrets

Stacy Caprio from Stacy Caprio Inc.

Julia Skinner from Root

Chris Wain from Africa Travel

Prakash Lothe from PrakashLothe

Joseph M. Orazi from JosephM.Orazi

Glenn Peterson from GlennPeterson

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