Half of a Peace Corps Service Completed… Here’s What I Read While I Did It.

I love reading and pretty much always have. Its probably because I grew up in a home where reading was encouraged and valued. My mom is a librarian so we always had books in the house and received them as gifts for birthdays and holidays and I even worked at the library for a couple years during high school. To me, there are few things better than a good book and in Peace Corps, there is more than enough time to get some serious binge reading in.


Now I know that not all people are avid readers like I am but in America, reading for fun is “a thing.” Nobody looks at you funny when they ask you what like to do and you respond, “I

Library in Barranco

like to read.” And when you’re reading a book around your friends, family, or coworkers nobody ever asks you, “Why are you reading?” Culturally, most Americans understand that it’s something that some people like to do for the pure enjoyment of it. However in Peru, its quite the opposite. People will look at you funny if you tell them you like to read and they will ask you why you have that book in your hand. And although the overwhelming majority of Peruvians are literate, reading as a hobby is certainly not “a thing.”

As far as I know, the vast majority of towns do not have libraries and I’ve only ever seen two both of which were both located in Lima. According to the Regional Center for the Promotion of Books in Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC), Peru is only second to Mexico as it pertains to lectura with 70% of the population  reading only out of necessity and not for enjoyment.

Sigh… Makes my little reading heart sad really. So in the spirit of trying to spread the gospel of reading as a form of enriching entertainment and me finishing a little over half of my 27 months here in Peru, here are all the books I’ve read from training until now.

Get Your Life Right and Read These Books:

Citizens Creek by Lalita Tademy

The Hummingbird’s Daughter by Luis Alberto Urrea

The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak

The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak

F@#K It: Frustration in America by Van White

The Truth About Awiti by C.P. Patrick

Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières

Cane River by Lalita Tademy


Don’t Even Waste Your Time:

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati

The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks


If You Have a Non-Fiction Predilection:

Midnight’s Furies The Deadly Legacy of India’s Partition by Nisid Hajari

Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga

There Was a Country: A Personal History of Biafra

Buck: A Memoir


Not Must Reads But Still Great Reads:

Happiness, Like Water by Chinelo Okparanta

Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi

The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner

The Bearkeeper’s Daughter by Gillian Bradshaw

The Secret Magdalene by Ki LongFellow

Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende

The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman

Property by Valerie Martin

Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

Rose of Sarajevo by Ayşe Kulin

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin

Forty Acres by Dwayne Smith Alexander

Red River by Lalita Tademy

*Just FYI, most of these books are historical fiction because I’m a history nerd so i that’s not your thing this list really probably is a no go for you. 





5 Comments Add yours

  1. elliewick says:

    I read The Architect’s Apprentice while in Turkey, which made it even more amazing! I squeezed in many of the princess’s mosques just because they were mentioned. Everything truly is as beautiful as the author wrote! I’m reading Guns, Germs, and Steel right now, which I would recommend. It’s a history of how the world and its peoples developed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. bdwhite says:

      Hi! Yeah I love reading Istanbul based novels because I love the city so much! And yes! I read guns germs and steel maybe like 8 or so years ago. Its a great read!


  2. As someone abroad, there are plenty of times I lose or don’t have service so I cant connect to the outside World. Reading is such an important piece thats added to my “down-time” experience… my friend just recommended a book shes mailing to me, i’ll get the name and give it but it seems very interesting especially for people in new worlds adjusting.


  3. Matt Stoker says:

    I love this blog from what little I’ve read and the reading list! Definitely going to read the Architect’s Apprentice. I’m a Peace Corps Volunteer currently serving in Guatemala, wish my blog looked like this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. bdwhite says:

      Thanks so much for reading – I really appreciate it ☺️. The Architect’s Apprentice is sooooo good! I love Elif Shafak, she is such a good writer. Good luck with your service in Guatemala!


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