Traveling the world, book by book

While the weather is cold and grey, I like to take myself to different countries through books. “The German House” by Annette Hess is set during the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials.

Eva was only a child during World War II but as she learns more about her country’s crimes she begins to question her own family’s silence about the past.

This book is an international bestseller and shows an enthralling and unprecedented perspective of the aftermath of World War II and the Holocaust by one of German’s most exciting storytellers.

In “The Sacrament” by Olaf Olafsson, the Vatican sends a young nun to Iceland to review allegations of misconduct at a Catholic school.

Two decades later, a former student who witnessed the headmaster, Father Frans, fall to his death from a tower during that time, asks the nun to return to help him unravel the details that have haunted him for decades. Olafsson looks into the complexity of our past lives and selves, the faulty nature of memory, and the indelible marks left by the joys and traumas of youth.

It is both suspenseful and poignantly written.

“Africaville” by Jeffrey Colvin is a debut that chronicles three generations of one family rooted in historic Nova Scotia.

The focus is on a small community called Africaville that was established just north of Halifax by former slaves. The settlers came from Haiti, Trinidad, and the American South.

Colvin explores identity, passing, cross-racial relationships, and the meaning of home to tell the larger story of the black experience during the 20th century.

“Wildlife” by Keena Roberts is the story of a young girl raised in the bush of Botswana by primatologist parents.

Keena grew up with a sharp awareness of the intricate ways that danger and beauty coexist in the natural world and a deep love for the wild African landscape she called home.

The trouble came during her yearly trip to America when she was thrown into a ritzy Philadelphia private school.

This is a funny, tender, fish-out-of-water memoir about coming of age across national and cultural divides which is ultimately a story about a sensitive girl trying to figure out where she really belongs.

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Tina Winstead is director of Huntington Memorial Library in Oneonta. Her column appears in the community section of The Daily Star every Monday. Her columns may also be found online at

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