The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy by Pietra Rivoli

The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power and Politics of World Trade by Pietra Rivoli (2005)
A Georgetown University professor traces the life of her souvenir cotton t-shirt to guide readers through global trade issues.

Visit the book's official website for an excerpt and other info. Find an original essay by the author available only at Powell's site. Check out NPR's three-part series inspired by the book. Look at a review from Harvard Business School's Working Knowledge or from the New York Times.

The Princess of Burundi by Kjell Eriksson

The Princess of Burundi by Kjell Eriksson (2006)
Winner of the Swedish Crime Academy Award for Best Crime Novel, Eriksson offers an engrossing police procedural that involves the Uppsala police force and its interesting cast of characters.

Visit the publisher's website to see what others are saying about the novel, read an excerpt, and find out more about the author.

Other translated novels are The Cruel Stars of the Night (2007) and The Demon of Dakar (2008).

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Defying Hitler by Sebastian Haffner

Defying Hitler: A Memoir by Sebastian Haffner (2002)
Published posthumously by his son, Sebastian Haffner’s memoir chillingly recounts Germany's descent into fascism and the author’s inability to remain in the place Nazi Berlin became.

Read a 2002 New York Times article about this memoir that was written in 1939, but not discovered until 1999. For other quotes from reviewers, visit the publisher's website.

Children of Heaven = Bacheha-Ye Aseman

Children of Heaven = Bacheha-Ye Aseman (1997) PG
When Ali loses his sister Zahra’s only pair of shoes, he’s afraid to tell his impoverished parents. Ali’s decision to share his tattered sneakers with Zahra creates some humorous and poignant situations for the children. Director Majid Majidi uses the children’s dilemma to gently illustrate the vast economic disparities in Iranian society.

For other reviews, visit Variety, the New York Times, or Roger Ebert's website.

In Farsi with English subtitles.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi (2003)

Marjane’s memoir of her years in Tehran from ages six to fourteen is a page-turning history of the events she witnesses. Her upper class liberal parents (she is the great-granddaughter of Iran’s last emperor) demonstrate against the Shah. They are bitterly disappointed when the new republic is overtaken by the fundamentalist Islamic revolution. Despite the imprisonment and execution of friends and family members, her parents remain in Iran. The war with Iraq brings yet more tragedies. The book ends with her parents sending the fourteen year old Marjane to school in Germany. The author’s black and white illustrations enhance the text. Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return continues the story. In 2007, the award-winning animated film version of Persepolis was released.

Read reviews in TIME Magazine and the New York Times. Go to the publisher's website for more about the book, to view excerpts, and to learn about Satrapi's inspiration and writing process.


Death at the Priory by James Ruddick

Death at the Priory: Love, Sex and Murder in Victorian England by James Ruddick (2001)
The unsolved poisoning of Charles Bravo, a member of the English Victorian upper class, has remained one of England’s most notorious crimes. Was it Bravo’s wealthy wife Florence, the servant Jane, or the renowned physician James Gully who committed the murder? Death at the Priory not only entertains as a mystery, it offers a glimpse of the social constraints even wealthy women endured in Victorian England.

Visit the author’s website for more about the book; check out a review in the New Statesman (UK); and, to discover more historic true crime cases, visit Laura James’ CLEWS: The Historic True Crime Blog.

Berlin Noir by Philip Kerr

Berlin Noir by Philip Kerr (1993)
1930s Berlin is the backdrop for March Violets, the first novel of Philip Kerr’s Berlin Noir trilogy featuring P.I. Bernie Gunther. Gunther must solve his case, and try to stay alive in a city where ordinary people disappear overnight. The Pale Criminal and A German Requiem complete the book.

The Trader Joe’s Adventure by Len Lewis

The Trader Joe’s Adventure: Turning a Unique Approach to Business into a Retail and Cultural Phenomenon by Len Lewis (2005)
An enjoyable examination of the underlying customer service principles and business philosophy that has turned Trader Joe’s into a retail success.

You can find a Trader Joe's near you, or read more about the supermarket phenomenon in a February 2008 Business Week article.

The Rabbit Factory by Marshall Karp

The Rabbit Factory by Marshall Karp (2006)
LAPD Detectives Mike Lomax and Terry Biggs investigate the murder of an employee dressed as the Rambunctious Rabbit, the mascot for a Disney-like theme park called Familyland. When another Familyland employee is murdered, followed by another murder, pressure to solve the murders mounts. The action filled plot will keep you guessing and the dialogue will keep you laughing. Karp continues the series with Bloodthirsty, published in 2007. Karp’s fast paced, satiric series will appeal to Carl Hiaasen and Tim Dorsey fans.

Visit the official website of Mike Lomax, Terry Biggs, and Marshall Karp for information on the author, or visit BookBrowse to find a reading guide for The Rabbit Factory.

Heart in the Right Place by Carolyn Jourdan

Heart in the Right Place: A Memoir by Carolyn Jourdan (2007)
Carolyn Jourdan lived the high life as a U.S. Senate counsel in Washington, D.C. Her life takes a ninety degree turn when she fills in for her recuperating mother as the receptionist at her father’s rural east Tennessee medical practice. As weeks turn into months at the clinic, Carolyn recounts with warmth and humor her soul searching journey to reexamine her place in the world.

Visit the author's website for a reading group guide, to read an excerpt, listen to a podcast, and to find more information about this heartwarming memoir.

Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky (2006)
Not only is the story of people in France during WWII compelling, but the story of the book itself and the notes left by the author make this a very special read.

The posthumous publication of Suite Francaise is as remarkable and poignant as the novel itself. Written while the author herself experienced the events, Nemirovsky recounts the turmoil surrounding the fall of Paris in 1940 and the moral complexities that arise during the 1941 German occupation of a French village. Nemirovsky’s beautiful prose creates memorable scenes and lush descriptions of nature. The evolving relationships between the villagers, the occupying soldiers, the wealthy landowners, and the farmers create a fascinating story. One of the most interesting storylines is the friendship between the lonely and lovely Lucile Angellier and Bruno, the German officer who is a musical composer. In 1942, Nemirovsky died in Auschwitz and was unable to complete the larger work that Suite Francaise was to comprise.
--Mary K.

Read a New York Times or a Washington Post review to find out about the origins of the book and background information on the author. Also check out the publisher's website for reviews, a reading group guide, and more. You can also read the first chapter.

Thomas Friedman books

The Lexus and the Olive Tree by Thomas Friedman (1999)
Don’t let the title keep you from reading this lucid introduction to globalization and how it differs from the previous Cold War era. Also look at his 2005 book: The World is Flat.

The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Friedman (2005)
A provocative and informative discussion of globalization’s impact on the U.S. economy and foreign relations.

Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich

Nickel and Dimed: On (not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich (2001)
What happens when the security of well paying U.S. manufacturing jobs disappear? Social critic Ehrenreich recounts her attempts to survive on minimum wage jobs.

Read a New York Times article about Ehrenreich's experiences to prepare for the book, listen to either an hour long or eight minute NPR interview, and visit the author's website.

Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell

Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell (2005)
The author of the bestseller The Tipping Point uses examples from “speed dating” to war games to reveal the neuroscience and psychology underlying snap judgments—those decisions we make in a “blink” of an eye.

Check out Gladwell’s website for reviews and reading guides on his books. You can also find an interview with the author at

Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran

Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran (2005)
The three Aminpour sisters flee the turmoil of Iran’s Islamic Revolution to open the Babylon Café in the small Irish village of Ballinacroagh. Mehran weaves her knowledge of Persian cuisine and Iranian politics into this delightful first novel.