Thursday, May 29, 2014

ArmchairBEA 2014 - Day 4 Part 1 (Beyond Borders)

Beyond the Borders

ArmchairBEA said: It’s time to step outside your comfort zone, outside your borders, or outside of your own country or culture. Tell us about the books that transported you to a different world, taught you about a different culture, and/or helped you step into the shoes of someone different from you. What impacted you the most about this book? What books would you recommend to others who are ready or not ready to step over the line? In essence, let’s start the conversation about diversity and keep it going!

I’ve got to say, I feel like I read a fairly wide variety of books. Yet at the same time, I guess I don’t. I don’t branch out to other cultures too much. Even historical fiction isn’t a genre that I read too frequently. Obviously most fantasy, science fiction, post-apocalyptic, and dystopian books have world building of some kind. I love when an author creates an entirely new world for me to get to know and explore. But my favorite worlds are completely made up--that have their own cultures--but other than that I don’t feel like I can really speak to this topic as much as the question originally intended.

Here's a couple of book “worlds”/cultures that are pretty different:

Harry Potter – The wizarding world is so imaginative. Yet it mimics our own world. Half bloods. Muggles. Etc. There are social hierarchies all over the place within this world.

The Syrena Legacy – This was one book where the main character, Emma, struggles with the culture of the Syrena. Syrena don’t allow their females the same free-will and opportunities to choose as our society. Of course, Emma is adamant that what she’s used to is the way things need to be. No one is going to tell her what to do.

A Song of Ice and Fire - Historical fiction plus fantasy. Magical beings. Dragons. The culture of women being sold off in marriage to the man who will give her family the best financial position or some other thing to gain. Thrones and kingdoms hanging in the balance.

Delirium - What if we lived in a world where the culture and society said that love was a disease?

Temptation - This series is about a girl who falls in love with an Amish boy. The girl tries to turn him “English” and the boy tries to turn her Amish. Not the best mash up for respecting the cultures of others.

Alienated - Aliens want to live peaceably with humans. And so let’s start up a foreign exchange student program. Humans riot. Everyone’s afraid.

Uninvited - What if your DNA determined whether you were likely to become a murderer or not? How do you think others would treat you?

Divergent - What if society was segregated based on what character traits we hold the most dear?

Code Name Verity - One of the best books I’ve read from the World War II era. What it was like to be a female trying to make a difference in a world where females haven’t really been allow to make a difference. Falling into the hands of the enemy. Yet family can cross all cultural divides.

Age of X - What would society be like if religion was outlawed? What about those who still found faith regardless?

In looking back through these books where a world was created by the author that is different from our own, one thing I’ve noticed is that often times the characters are fighting to turn their “broken” world into a mirror image of our own current world—with our cultural rules and what’s accepted here and now. Who’s to say that where we are now is the be-all-end-all? Maybe we’ve gone too far "forward" in some areas and not enough in others? What makes one culture better than another? Rights? Values? Morals? Who determines each of those things?


  1. I tend to like the science fiction and post-apocalyptic books. It's always an adventure! I can't believe that I still haven't read the Divergent books! Oh least I will always have that to fall back on if I run out of reading material.

  2. Those are some good thoughts....that I don't have an answer too :)) But maybe you could expound in a later post!

  3. Oh, I like your last paragraph. Great questions and I don't have answers -- which makes them the best kind of questions. I'll be thinking about that for awhile!

  4. Sometimes worlds that aren't real can be the best way to explore issues that are... diversity (or the lack thereof) included!

  5. Holly @ Words Fueled by LoveMay 29, 2014 at 2:32 PM

    Enjoyed your post the most Sandy of the ones I've ready today (perhaps because we share similar thinking). (wink wink). Great thoughts and picks!

  6. I completely agree Elizabeth--scifi and PA are typically very adventurous. You never know what you're going to get. I do recommend that you get around to Divergent eventually. The first book was my favorite in the series though. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  7. Haha...I'll think about it. I've got some thoughts on the answers, but you know how that goes. Thanks for stopping by Alyssaz!

  8. Thanks Joy! I'm glad I could have some thought provoking questions. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  9. I completely agree with you Charleen! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  10. Gosh those are big questions aren't they. Interesting that given these authors have gone to a lot of trouble to create alternative worlds, that they then revert back to the known world.

  11. So many things I love... :) Ooh, and you're so right! There are distinctive flaws in our society, many that are on their way to being better but many that aren't. That's one thing I love exploring in books. What could be done better, and how? And what could be the repercussions in our quests to fix things? Like Uninvited, identifying a genetic marker for someone who has a high likelihood of murdering later in their life sounds like a good idea. But it's when people forget that those people, the ones who are likely to murder later, are still people, people who haven't yet murdered and possibly won't, do the problems come in.

    Sigh. I love books.

  12. Not all the series are like that, but I've noticed a lot of them are. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting Karen!

  13. Ah yes...the repercussions have been the motivation behind many of my favorite series lately. Great points. And I'm with you. Books are the best. :)