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Rachel’s Reads – March 2024

It’s that time of year again when spring break beckons. Whether you prefer carefree days spent in the sun, or the wind and snow of the slopes, this time of year embodies the chance to escape to a different setting. Not everyone will be traveling during spring break, but you can always travel through the pages of a book. Set in other countries, these books will hopefully satiate wanderlust and allow you to explore other cultures. 

Bangkok Wakes to Rain by Pitchaya Sudbanthad
The real protagonist of this book is Bangkok. Narrative strands set (not chronologically) in the past, present, and future, evoke the spirit at the heart of the city. The beautiful and meditative language is a counterpoint to the fugue-like dissonance of the timelines that really makes this novel shine. 

Silver Nitrate by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
This part film history part horror novel is set in ‘90s Mexico City. It is a melding of Mexican horror movies and Nazi occultism through a curse on an old film. The storytelling is riveting, dark, timely, and yet unapologetic with a delicious sense of creeping dread.

The Last Storytellers: Tales from the Heart of Morocco by Richard L. Hamilton
For nearly a thousand years, storytellers have gathered in the legendary square in Marrakech to continue the oral tradition of storytelling. They recount ancient folktales and fables, but in the wake of modern technology fewer people have been interested in continuing the tradition. Richard tracked down storytellers and recorded their stories in this book. 

The Miraculous True History of Nomi Ali by Uzma Aslam Khan
Brilliantly researched, this book, based around real life events, tells the intertwined stories of several people during the period of 1936-1947 on the Andaman Islands, which was used by the British as a penal colony for Indians. It was occupied by the Japanese during World War II. The beautiful poetic language contrasts the horrors that the prisoners face. 

The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen
A fantastic piece of travel writing, this is the account of a journey to the Tibetan plateau of Dolpa in the Himalayas. Peter made the trek in 1973 as part of an expedition to study sheep, but was hoping for a glimpse of an almost mythical snow leopard. It is an absolutely stunning book. 

Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis
In Toronto, a bet between the gods Apollo and Hermes leads them to grant human consciousness and language to a group of dogs at a veterinary clinic. A fascinating look at human consciousness in all of its beauty and peril, this book is charming and strange (and you don’t need to be a dog lover to enjoy it). 

Happy Reading!



Rachel became the publisher of The Independent in March of 2017 and then married her husband Jake in May. Their goldendoodle Einstein joined the family in 2019. Rachel is an avid reader and loves to share book recommendations. (Don’t miss her column, Rachel’s Reads in the Magazine!) She can always be found with a book nearby, especially while traveling (another of her favorite things).

Bailey Pianalto Photography