Rice Unconventional Wisdom

IEW 2017 Recommended Reading IEW Book Poster

 International Education Week is an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. This joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education is part of our efforts to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn , and exchange experiences in the United States.  -http://iew.state.gov/-   

For this year's International Education Week (IEW), we are putting together a list of International Recommended Reading. We prefer to include books that: 1) have been translated to English, and 2) somehow represent what is special and amazing about the culture they are from. Please note that each submission will be reviewed by a committee to ensure Rice standards are upheld. 

To submit a book to be included, please visit http://bit.ly/IEWreading. For more information about International Education Week at Rice, please visit oiss.rice.edu/iew.

Click on the name to view books from a specific country. A complete list of books is available below.
Finland; India; Japan; Spain


Recommended reading: Under the north starLinna, Väinö: Under the North Star (Original Title: Täällä Pohjantähden alla)
Year of publication:
1959, 1960, 1962
Genre: Historical fiction
Country of Origin: Finland; Language originally published in: Finnish
Brief description: Under the North Star is a trilogy of books that tell the story of the Koskela family from 1880 to 1950. Through the perspective of an ordinary family with their own ups and downs, love stories, and other events, the books address some of the most intense periods of Finland's history, including the First World War, the Finnish Civil War and the Second World War.
How does this book represent Finland? Although Under the North Star is a work of fiction, it is considered to be a very realistic depiction of history. Through the trilogy of books the reader will get an idea of the lives and mentality of ordinary Finnish people, as well as learn about the effects the World Wars and the Finnish Civil War had on the country. This trilogy of books is considered to be one of the quintessential works in Finnish literature.
Where can this book be found? Unfortunately these books don't seem to be available in the local libraries, but can be purchased on Amazon or Barnes&Noble.
Submitted by: Andy Meretoja from OISS



Bandopadhyay, Bibhutibhushan: Song of the Road (Original Title: Pather Panchali)Recommended reading: Song of the road
Year of publication: 
Genre: Drama, Tragedy
Country of Origin: India; Language originally published in: Bengali
Brief description: The book follows Apu's journey, from his childhood to his adolescence, from a rural village of Bengal to Varanasi, the holy city of North India. This book is followed up by another book called "Aparajito". These two books were adapted into a trilogy by eminent film director Satyajit Ray (The Apu trilogy).
How does this book represent India? This book represents Bengal and India, in its purest sense. But any reader from any part of the world can still connect with Apu and relate with all the characters. In that sense, this book is universal in its appeal.
Where can this book be found? Unfortunately this book doesn't seem to be available in the local libraries, but can be purchased on Amazon.
Submitted by: Rishab Dutta



Soseki, Natsume: Kokoro (Original Title: Kokoro)Recommended reading: Kokoro
Year of publication: 
Genre: Fiction
Country of Origin: Japan; Language originally published in: Japanese
Brief description: “Kokoro" is a classic Japanese novel by Soseki Natsume and read widely by Japanese people as it is also carried on Japanese High School text books. Kokoro, a term sometimes rendered as "the heart of things," deal with the transition from the Japanese Meiji society to the modern era, by recounting the friendship between a young man and an older man he calls "Sensei" (or teacher). The Sensei introduces the student to the moral dilemmas of life by using his own story as the example. He feels morally responsible for the suicide of a friend and, in the end, he takes his own. The author Soseki Natsume (1867~1916) is one of the greatest writer in modern Japan, and most analyzed Japanese author, by a considerable margin, in modern literature.
How does this book represent Japan? The story depicts the theme of isolation in the context of egoism and guilt, as opposed to shame. Sensei's decision to take his own life is also influenced by the suicide of General (Count) Nogi Maresuke on the same day of the funeral of the Emperor Meiji, which is a real story and somewhat symbolic to this novel's themes. The novels helps to understand Japan’s struggles with modernization and Westernization in Meiji era and sense of alienation at the end of the period. It also presents important themes such as changing roles and ideals of women, inter-generational change in values, the role of family, the importance of the self versus the group, and identity.
Where can this book be found? Fondren Library and Houston Public Library. It can also be purchased on Amazon.
Submitted by: Aki Shimada



Navarro, Julia: Tell Me Who I Am (Original Title: Dime quien soy)Recommended reading: Tell me who i am
Year of publication: 
Genre: Fiction
Country of Origin: Spain; Language originally published in: Spanish
Brief description: This is a novel about memory and identity with an exceptionally well-drawn and unforgettable literary character: a woman who throughout her extraordinary life was able to achieve the highly difficult feat of knowing herself. A victim of her mistakes, aware of her guilt, frightened by her traumas, she is above all an anti-heroine, a flesh-and-blood woman who always acts according to her principles, facing up to every challenge and making errors for which she will never fully pay. A woman who decided that she couldn't be neutral in this life.
How does this book represent Spain? Navarro's most personal novel surprises for its melodrama and the raw emotions transmitted by many of its stories. It is filled with pure adventure, introspection and political chronicle. From the tumultuous years of the Second Spanish Republic to the fall of the Berlin Wall, including World War II and the Cold War, these pages are packed with intrigue, emotion, politics, espionage, love, betrayal and settings like Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Buenos Aires, Mexico, Moscow, London, Berlin and Warsaw with brief stopovers in The Basque Country, Cairo, Athens, Lisbon and New York.
Where can this book be found? Houston Public Library. It can also be purchased on Amazon.
Submitted by: Maria Corcuera from OISS