Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Armchair BEA: Beyond the Borders

I'm actually finding it kind of funny that I am blogging about Beyond the Borders for Armchair BEA today.  Believe me, it's only because I couldn't do a giveaway right now.

Why is it so funny?  Because I tend to read about books that are set in the US and feature ordinary people in ordinary situations.  Well, as ordinary as the situation can be when they are stumbling over a dead body or two, of course.

But that's not to say that an author can't create world that draws us into it - real of fantasy.  That was the appeal of the Harry Potter series, and I well know.  I was pulled in and enjoyed every page.

The topic, however, is more about a book that taught us something new and showed us life outside our normal world.  The only books that spring to mind for me are the books of Khaled Hosseini.  I must admit, I still haven't read his new one, but I did read A Thousand Splendid Suns and The Kite Runner (in that order) back in 2008.  They were masterful books that showed us life in Afghanistan in a way that a news report never will.

Then again, I always feel a little wary reading a fiction book and assuming it is fact.  Who knows how much the author made up to advance their story?  It's something I always try to remember when I get pulled into a book - before I set about using it as fact, I need to double check against real sources of non-fiction information (which also leaves out Wikipedia.)

Of course, we can also be pulled into a story and as a result a culture not our own not that far from where we live.  A perfect example of this is Murder on Bamboo Lane by Naomi Hirahara.  The main character in this mystery series debut is a young female bicycle cop here in Los Angeles.  She also happens to be half Japanese.  The world she opens up to us is very interesting and different from what I know while still being familiar.  The book takes place in areas I drive by but never visit.  And that makes it very interesting to me.  If the book intrigues you, here is my review.


  1. I read 'A Thousand Splendid Suns' and by the end it had reduced me to tears. I knew some women had it hard, but the beautiful prose just really brought it so close to home! I feel that, having read some of your reviews, you read a lot of "real" fiction in which you see actual people behaving realistically, rather than the exaggerated YA romance etc. which just doesn't seem to ring true!
    Great post :)
    My Beyond Borders post
    Juli @ Universe in Words

    1. You do have a point about what I read. On the other hand, how many people really get involved in solving murders, much less catch multiple killers? There are different levels to realistic fiction, I guess.

  2. It's great to see that there are mystery series that are opening up our borders -- there's no reason that sleuths can't be as diverse as police forces. That must bring out more interesting ways of looking at things and pieces of culture around us that most of us are blind to.

    1. It can when done right. The book I mentioned was certainly done right - it added an interesting layer to things without being preachy or in your face about it.

  3. Thanks for sharing some of your faves! The Murder on Bamboo Lane sounds like a fascinating read.