The Tale of Genji | Japan

This book catches a glimpse of Japanese court life in the 11th century that we’d never see otherwise, a look at the morals and values of a culture so far removed from Western thought.

Kafka on the Shore | Japan

While there are undeniably elements about the otherworldly in this book, it’s based in nothing more or less magical than the human soul.

Read the World Wrap-Up | Russia

What I’ve really seen is that a country who doesn’t learn from her mistakes is bound to repeat them, and Russia seems to be on the verge of repeating them.

Doctor Zhivago | Russia

This book is one of those that needs to be read because the suffering of the people needs to be remembered. And although it ends sadly, there’s too much triumph of the soul for it to be sad.

The Bear and the Nightingale | Russia

This is one of those snow-tipped fairytales that feature in my winter dreams, effortlessly combining magic, history, and the northern reaches of Russia where the winters are long, the forests are primeval, and life is enchanted.

Poland: A History | Poland

The Poles are a surprisingly resilient people, weathering adversity and powering through the storms of history.

The Doll | Poland

I didn’t see this book as a failure of the class system, I saw it as a triumph over it.

Poland: A Novel | Poland

The enmity between Germany and Poland and Russia and Poland isn’t a 20th century thing. It’s been going on for centuries.

Read the World Wrap-Up | Greece

I had no idea how deeply love of freedom is ingrained into the Western psyche thanks to the Greeks. For that alone, their heroism and humanity, I give them thanks.

Gates of Fire | Greece

There’s something beautiful in the self-sacrifice of those Spartans laboring at the Hot Gates, knowing that they would die in the blood and horror of war. Doing it anyway for their families and their freedom.

Greece: A History | Greece

There’s something beautifully tragic about Greece—foreshadowed in the work of Euripides or Sophocles—that’s both enchanting and sad.