For our third edition of Good Reads and Podcasts, we have selected our favourite round-up of unique and interesting books for you to read while away on your summer holidays. 

The best way to occupy your time on vacation? Get in lost in a good book on the beach that takes you faraway to another place and time. 


Non-Fiction Picks

The Naked Don't Fear the Water by Matthieu Aikins


A favourite among the A&F team, this book was released earlier this year, and tells the story of the underground refugee trail. Journalist Aikins has been reporting out of Kabul for years, and when his friend Omar decided to try his luck and go to Europe, Aikins journeyed along with him. Their year-long travels from Afghanistan to Europe showcases a personal account of the gruelling and heartbreaking hurdles at the heart of the migration crisis. 

Slaves for Peanuts by Jori Lewis



A story about peanut cultivation in West Africa, and its intrinsic link to slavery. European demand for peanut oil contributed to the persistence of African slavery well into the 20th century. Lewis focuses on West Africa, with Senegal famous as the top peanut producer in the world. Lewis combines narration and history for this compelling book that explains how the peanut crop has been historically tied to slavery and freedom. 

Caste: The Origins of our Discontent by Isabel Wilkerson 



A deep-dive into America's unspoken caste system and how hierarchy and class are still prevalent today. Wilkerson's book combines research and real life examples to showcase how American society and culture has been shaped by caste, and the impact this has had on individual people.

Fiction Picks

A Strangeness In My Mind by Orhan Pamuk 



An ode to the city of Istanbul told through the eyes of the narrator, Mevlut. Mevlut moves to Istanbul with his father at 12, and the novel follows his journey, and features firsthand narration from his family members and friends. Mevlut sells boza at night, wandering the streets of Istanbul with his homemade yogurt fermented drink. Boza selling is an ancient tradition in Istanbul that is slowly disappearing in the city as urbanisation and modernisation takes over.


Pachinko by Ai Min Lee 


This inter-generational family saga tells the story of a Korean family, spanning four generations, and told in the view of the women, and men of the family. The story begins with Sunja, a teenaged daughter in the early 1900s, whose early decisions will forever impact her family's fate. The family migrates from Korea to Japan, and tells the historical context of Korean migration amidst Japanese colonisation. A moving story that should not be missed. Pachinko was recently adapted by Apple TV as a min-series. 


The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai



This multi-general family story is set against the context of the Vietnam War, starting with the French colonial period, and follows the rise of the communist regime. The story follows a family, combining narration from the grandmother Diệu Lan and her granddaughter Hương. This lyrical novel from poet Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai is her first novel in English. 


Have you read any of the books above? Let us know what you think in the comments! 

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