The best books exploring the search for sanctuary

Judith Teitelman Author Of Guesthouse for Ganesha
By Judith Teitelman

The Books I Picked & Why

Purple Lotus

By Veena Rao

Book cover of Purple Lotus

Why this book?

Veena Rao’s Purple Lotus is an inspiring story of one woman’s (Tara) search for and discovery of self-worth, self-determination, inner strength, and authenticity. I admired the author’s fine writing which powerfully captures the harsh realities of a young immigrant’s life in an abusive marriage in a new, foreign country, the pressures and expectations from her traditional family and community back in India, and, ultimately, Tara’s ability and courage to recognize that she is undeserving of such treatment. Concurrently, she realizes that her struggles are emblematic of broader, systemic issues, which Tara forthrightly and eloquently addresses head-on.

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Wild Boar in the Cane Field

By Anniqua Rana

Book cover of Wild Boar in the Cane Field

Why this book?

I love to travel—both physically around the world and throughout time and history through books. Anniqua Rana’s Wild Board in the Cane Field transported me elsewhere. It is a beautifully rendered and imaginatively descriptive tale that takes the reader to a place few have likely visited—the life and culture of rural Pakistan. It is also a magically realistic tale, a favorite genre of mine. While this poignant story centers on its teenage protagonist, I was immediately captivated by all the characters and their hopes, desires, challenges, and joys. 

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Finding Venerable Mother: A Daughter's Spiritual Quest to Thailand

By Cindy Rasicot

Book cover of Finding Venerable Mother: A Daughter's Spiritual Quest to Thailand

Why this book?

Writing a memoir is a brave act, especially one that shares a personal and spiritual exploration, and Cindy Rasicot’s engaging Finding Venerable Mother does just that. I applaud her honesty. Within these pages, I experienced, first, her encounter and then budding relationship with Dhammananda Bhikkhuni, Thailand’s first female Buddhist monk. Along the way, Ms. Rasicot frankly shares personal health challenges, obstacles she encountered living in a foreign country, and, ultimately, triumphs. It is a story of love and acceptance, healing and hope. 

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By Debra Thomas

Book cover of Luz

Why this book?

In Debra Thomas’s compassionately rendered Luz, her protagonist’s (Alma) border crossing from Mexico into the United States is relayed in painful, harrowing, and often shocking detail. It is a powerful and, at times, difficult read. Yet an important one. I often forgot that this is a work of fiction, as the story Thomas so deftly portrays is all too common and all too real, especially for a resident of Southern California, which I am. However, it is one filled with hope and determination and the unwavering spirit of a young, passionate girl in search of answers.

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The Book of Form and Emptiness

By Ruth Ozeki

Book cover of The Book of Form and Emptiness

Why this book?

Within these pages, Ruth Ozeki creates a world like no other. The Book of Form and Emptiness is thought-provoking, compelling, and thoroughly original. This story took me places I’ve never been before, and I was awestruck throughout the journey. Exploring loss, bereavement, mental illness, and Zen Buddhism, this is a multi-layered, insightful, and deeply spiritual tale. One that is unforgettable. Significantly, it is also a novel that celebrates books and libraries, two of my favorite things, with the book itself as a protagonist. What could be better?

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