Favorite Books: Inspired by Asia
Summer is generally the time that most American’s are taking vacation. (At least we hope you are!) So whatever destination you choose to relax, whether it’s the beach, lake, mountains, or desert, we hope that you are also dreaming of the far-off countries you plan to explore on your future career break.
So with summer reading lists being so popular, we decided to have our own. Here are some memoirs based in Asia that have inspired, enlightened, and opened us up to new worlds. We hope they do the same for you. (Note: These aren’t our reviews but descriptions of the books. Because they are listed means that we enjoyed them!)
The Road of Lost Innocence – The True Story of a Cambodia Heroine
A memoir by Somaly Mam
[singlepic=1500,200,,,right]A riveting and beautiful memoir of tragedy and hope–by a woman named to Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Born in a village deep in the Cambodian forest, Somaly Mam was sold into sexual slavery by her grandfather when she was twelve years old. For the next decade she was shuttled through the brothels that make up the sprawling sex trade of Southeast Asia. She suffered unspeakable acts of brutality and witnessed horrors that would haunt her for the rest of her life – until, in her early twenties, she managed to escape. Unable to forget the girls she left behind, Mam became a tenacious and brave leader in the fight against human trafficking, rescuing sex workers–some as young as five and six–offering them shelter, rehabilitation, healing, and love and leading them into new life.
Written in exquisite, spare, unflinching prose, The Road of Lost Innocence is a memoir that will leave you awestruck by the courage and strength of this extraordinary woman and will renew your faith in the power of an individual to bring about change.
Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China
A memoir by Jung Chang
[singlepic=1501,200,,,right]Blending the intimacy of memoir and the panoramic sweep of eyewitness history, Wild Swans has become a bestselling classic in thirty languages, with more than ten million copies sold. The story of three generations in twentieth-century China, it is an engrossing record of Mao’s impact on China, an unusual window on the female experience in the modern world, and an inspiring tale of courage and love.
Jung Chang describes the life of her grandmother, a warlord’s concubine; her mother’s struggles as a young idealistic Communist; and her parents’ experience as members of the Communist elite and their ordeal during the Cultural Revolution. Chang was a Red Guard briefly at the age of fourteen, then worked as a peasant, a “barefoot doctor,” a steelworker, and an electrician. As the story of each generation unfolds, Chang captures in gripping, moving — and ultimately uplifting — detail the cycles of violent drama visited on her own family and millions of others caught in the whirlwind of history.
Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure
A memoir by Sarah Macdonald
[singlepic=1502,200,,,right]In her twenties, journalist Sarah Macdonald backpacked around India and came away with a lasting impression of heat, pollution and poverty. So when an airport beggar read her palm and told her she would return to India—and for love—she screamed, “Never!” and gave the country, and him, the finger.
But eleven years later, the prophecy comes true. When the love of Sarah’s life is posted to India, she quits her dream job to move to the most polluted city on earth, New Delhi. For Sarah this seems like the ultimate sacrifice for love, and it almost kills her, literally. Just settled, she falls dangerously ill with double pneumonia, an experience that compels her to face some serious questions about her own fragile mortality and inner spiritual void. “I must find peace in the only place possible in India,” she concludes. “Within.” Thus begins her journey of discovery through India in search of the meaning of life and death.
Holy Cow is Macdonald’s often hilarious chronicle of her adventures in a land of chaos and contradiction, of encounters with Hinduism, Islam and Jainism, Sufis, Sikhs, Parsis and Christians and a kaleidoscope of yogis, swamis and Bollywood stars. From spiritual retreats and crumbling nirvanas to war zones and New Delhi nightclubs, it is a journey that only a woman on a mission to save her soul, her love life—and her sanity—can survive.
Touching My Father’s Soul: A Sherpa’s Journey to the Top of Everest
A memoir by Jamling Tenzing Norgay
[singlepic=1503,200,,,right]In a story of Everest unlike any told before, Jamling Tenzing Norgay gives us an insider’s view of the Sherpa world. As Climbing Leader of the famed 1996 Everest IMAX expedition led by David Breashears, Jamling Norgay was able to follow in the footsteps of his legendary mountaineer father, Tenzing Norgay, who with Sir Edmund Hillary was the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest, in 1953. Jamling Norgay interweaves the story of his own ascent during the infamous May 1996 Mount Everest disaster with little-known stories from his father’s historic climb and the spiritual life of the Sherpas, revealing a fascinating and profound world that few — even many who have made it to the top — have ever seen.
The Girl in the Picture: The Story of Kim Phuc, the Photograph, and the Vietnam War
A Biography by Denise Chong
[singlepic=1504,200,,,right]On June 8, 1972, nine-year-old Kim Phuc, severely burned by napalm, ran from her blazing village in South Vietnam and into the eye of history. Her photograph-one of the most unforgettable images of the twentieth century-was seen around the world and helped turn public opinion against the Vietnam War.
This book is the story of how that photograph came to be-and the story of what happened to that girl after the camera shutter closed. Award-winning biographer Denise Chong’s portrait of Kim Phuc-who eventually defected to Canada and is now a UNESCO spokesperson-is a rare look at the Vietnam War from the Vietnamese point-of-view and one of the only books to describe everyday life in the wake of this war and to probe its lingering effects on all its participants.
What are some books that have inspired you?