Olympic Reading | Wyatt’s World

The 2018 Winter Olympics begin on February 9. Held in the mountainous province of Pyeongchang, South Korea, the games will offer a chance for readers to explore Korean history and culture in many different ways. To connect back to the events themselves, suggest Karen Crouse’s Norwich, the newest look at American Olympians, which tells the story of a long line of athletes from one tiny Vermont town.

  • White Chrysanthemum by Mary Lynn Bracht (Putnam).
    Readers seeking historical fiction can turn to Bracht’s debut novel, a harrowing story surveying the fate of Korean “comfort women” during World War II. The detailed and emotional story revolves around two sisters, one kidnapped into sexual slavery and the other struggling with the guilt of being saved.
  • Norwich: One Tiny Vermont Town’s Secret to Happiness and Excellence by Karen Crouse (S. & S.).
    How does a small, rural town produce Olympian after Olympian? Crouse finds out, deciding that it comes down to how the members of the community raise their kids—with less pressure and an increased focus on happiness.
  • Koreatown: A Cookbook by Deuki Hong & Matt Rodbard (Clarkson Potter: Crown).
    Few will get to travel to South Korea for the Olympics, but for those who stay home and still wish to taste the cuisine of the nation, Hong and Rodbard offer a guide to recipes from Korean American communities across the United States—from exotic flavors to the now commonplace—they put the culture on a plate—and in a bowl.
  • A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea by Masaji Ishikawa,‎ tr. from Korean by Risa Kobayashi & Martin Brown (AmazonCrossing).
    While the games are held in South Korea, North Korea looms large over the entire event. In a traumatic reckoning, this memoir details what life is like inside the hermit kingdom, particularly for those on the lower rungs of the social hierarchy.
  • Art of Korea: Highlights from the Collection of San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum by Kumja Paik Kim (Asian Art Museum).
    Reissued in 2017, this catalog presents a comprehensive guide to Korean art, ranging from works in porcelain to those on paper. It is a mesmerizing look at an important U.S. collection and provides a sense of Korea’s cultural and artistic heart. Other museums, including Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, have equally impressive, if older, catalogs, too.
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Neal Wyatt About Neal Wyatt

Neal Wyatt is LJ's reader's advisory columnist. She writes The Reader's Shelf, RA Crossroads, Book Pulse, and Wyatt's World columns. She is currently revising The Readers' Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction, 3d ed. (ALA Editions, 2018). Contact her at nwyatt@mediasourceinc.com.

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