Pratt Picks


Nonfiction - Around the World in Books and Movies


The Elegance of the Hedgehog
The Elegance of the Hedgehog (2008)
Muriel Barbery
In a Paris apartment building, the lives of 54-year-old concierge Reneé Michel and extremely bright, suicidal 12-year-old Paloma Josse are transformed by the arrival of a new tenant, Kakuro Ozu.
Minding Frankie
Minding Frankie (2011)
Maeve Binchy

When Noel, a recovering alcoholic, learns that his former flame is terminally ill and pregnant with a child she claims is his, he agrees to take care of the baby. His Dublin neighborhood rushes to help him, especially when a suspicious social worker interferes.

Murder in Passy
Murder in Passy (2011)
Cara Black
Private investigator Aimée Leduc's godfather becomes the prime suspect when his girlfriend is strangled in her garden.  To vindicate him, Aimée must identify the real killer. Eleventh in a series set in Paris.
Little Bee
Little Bee (2009)
Chris Cleave
After sharing a grisly experience on a Nigerian beach, Little Bee, an illegal refugee, and Sarah, a suburban journalist, reconnect in London.
What Is the What
What Is the What (2007)
Dave Eggers
After the Arab militia attacks his village, Valentino Achak Deng flees with other “Lost Boys” of Sudan, taking refuge first in camps, then in America, which poses fresh challenges.
An Evil Eye
An Evil Eye (2011)
Jason Goodwin
Eunuch and intelligence agent Yashim investigates multiple puzzles, including a dead body found in a Christian monastery’s cistern. Fourth in a series set in the Istanbul of the Ottoman Empire.
A Thousand Splendid Suns
A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007)
Khaled Hosseini
Mariam and Leila, women of different generations in Afghanistan, form a powerful friendship while struggling with the shared burden of marriage to Rasheed, an abusive older man.
The Lacuna
The Lacuna (2009)
Barbara Kingsolver
After working for communists Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and Leon Trotsky, Harrison William Shepherd moves to America, where he becomes an author of popular historical fiction and fights the House Un-American Activities Committee.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2008)
Stieg Larsson
Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist with a ruined career, and Lisbeth Salander, a tough, tattooed hacker, investigate a nearly 40-year-old mystery, the disappearance of a young woman with a wealthy but troubled family. First in a trilogy set in Sweden.
The Piano Teacher
The Piano Teacher (2009)
Janice Y. K. Lee
Coming to Hong Kong from England with her husband in 1952, Claire Pendleton accepts a job from a wealthy Chinese family and starts an affair with their driver, Will Truesdale, an Englishman with a devastating past.
Drawing Conclusions
Drawing Conclusions (2011)
Donna Leon

When a retired teacher who was helping abused women dies in her apartment, Commissario Guido Brunetti suspects murder. Twentieth in a series set in Venice.

The Coffee Trader
The Coffee Trader (2003)
David Liss
Ignoring the strictures of his 17th-century Amsterdam community, Portuguese Jew Miguel Lienzo joins forces with a Dutchwoman to capture the coffee market.
The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party
The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party (2011)
Alexander McCall Smith
Precious Ramotswe and Grace Makutsi, who run the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, probe the murder of two cows. Twelfth in a series set in Botswana.
The Paris Wife
The Paris Wife (2011)
Paula McLain
After a whirlwind courtship and small wedding in the 1920s, writer Ernest Hemingway and Hadley take off for Paris, where Hadley endures poverty and loneliness to bolster her husband's career.
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet (2010)
David Mitchell
In 1799, Jacob de Zoet, a clerk, arrives at an outpost of the Dutch East Indies Company in Japan. His outspokenness about traders' dishonesty soon gets him in trouble, and his romantic hopes fade when the woman he loves, a Japanese midwife, is sold into service at a mysterious nunnery.
The Tiger's Wife
The Tiger's Wife (2011)
Téa Obreht
Natalia, a young physician in a Balkan city, comes to understand her grandfather's life, as well as his death, in mysterious circumstances, by the light of two stories he told her, of "the deathless man" and "the tiger's wife."
The Invisible Bridge
The Invisible Bridge (2010)
Julie Orringer
As Europe teeters on the brink of World War II, a young Jew, Andras Lévi, travels from Hungary to Paris, where he studies architecture and embarks on a passionate romance with Klara, a Hungarian ballet instructor.
The Shadow of the Wind
The Shadow of the Wind (2004)
Carlos  Ruiz Zafón
After discovering a rare book in his childhood, in 1950s Barcelona, Daniel becomes increasingly fascinated with the mysteries behind it as he grows up. Why is someone destroying every copy of its author's books? And why does the author’s life parallel Daniel’s?
Peony in Love
Peony in Love (2007)
Lisa See
After dying for love, Peony, a young woman of 17th-century China, finds peace as a “hungry ghost” by inhabiting the spirits of her beloved’s wives, helping them to finish a work that she started, a meditation on a Chinese opera.
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand (2010)
Helen Simonson
Major Ernest Pettigrew’s quiet life in an English village grows unexpectedly rich when he becomes friends with Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper from the village.
Cutting for Stone
Cutting for Stone (2009)
Abraham Verghese
Twin brothers, born in 1954 of a secret love between an Indian nun and a British surgeon, grow up amid political tumult in Ethiopia, arriving at a shared passion for medicine and, disastrously, for the same woman.


Australia (2008)
In Australia at the beginning of World War II, an English aristocrat inherits a cattle station. When English cattle barons plot to take her land, she reluctantly joins forces with a stock-man to drive 2,000 cattle across hundreds of miles, only to face the bombing of Darwin, Australia, by the Japanese.
Enchanted April
Enchanted April (1992)
A group of English women disenchanted with their lives find new energy and love during a month in a medieval villa on the Italian Riviera in the 1920s.
Julie and Julia
Julie and Julia (2009)
Two women discover their vocations--Julia Child, in Paris in 1949, through cooking lessons, and Julie Powell, in Manhattan in 2002, through cooking all the recipes in Child’s first book and blogging about it.
Roman Holiday
Roman Holiday (1953)
Exploring Rome on her own, a runaway princess shares romance and adventure with an American newspaperman who pretends ignorance of her identity.
Slumdog Millionaire
Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Jamal Malik, an 18 year-old orphan from the slums, is about to win India's version of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" when police arrest him on suspicion of cheating. Desperate to prove his innocence, Jamal tells his life story, each episode revealing the answer to one of the show's questions.
The Commitments
The Commitments (1991)
A young rebel soul band from the Dublin ghetto struggles to make it in the music business.
The Kite Runner
The Kite Runner (2007)
In 1970s Afghanistan, a childhood friendship falls apart when Amir betrays Hassan. Years later, after war has ravaged the country and Amir has escaped to America, Amir has a chance to redeem his error.
The Painted Veil
The Painted Veil (2006)
London is where bacteriologist Charles marries socialite Kitty, in the 1920s, and Shanghai is where Kitty has an affair. But it is in a remote Chinese village overrun with cholera that they discover real love.
The Red Violin
The Red Violin (1998)
Upon unearthing a blood-red violin in contemporary Canada, an appraiser uncovers its journey--how it changed hands and the lives of all who touched it, in 17th-century Italy, 18th-century Austria, 19th-century England, and Communist China.
Up (2009)
After rigging thousands of balloons to his house and floating away with an 8-year-old boy stowaway, a 78-year-old widower fulfills an old dream of adventure in South America.
Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)

Two American women, one engaged to be married and the other sexually flirtatious, both become romantically involved with a painter while on vacation in Barcelona, only to find they have competition in the form of the painter's ex-wife.



Long Way Gone
Long Way Gone (2007)
Ishmael Beah
A children's-rights advocate tells how, as a 12-year-old in Sierra Leone, he was recruited by the national army and began a several-year stint as a killer.
Call Number: DT516.828 .B43 A3 2007
The City of Falling Angels
The City of Falling Angels (2005)
John Berendt
Berendt explores the 1996 Fenice opera house fire along with other episodes and personalities in Venice’s rich history.
Call Number: DG674.2 .B47 2005
In a Sunburned Country
In a Sunburned Country (2000)
Bill Bryson

Bryson humorously highlights beauties, dangers, and oddities of Australia.

Call Number: DU105.2 .B83 2000
My Life in France
My Life in France (2006)
Julia Child, Alex Prud’homme
Child describes her years in Paris, Marseille, and Provence and her transformation from a young woman who could not cook or speak any French into a celebrated French-style chef.
Call Number: TX649.C47 A3 2006
The House at Sugar Beach
The House at Sugar Beach (2008)
Helene Cooper
Cooper remembers her childhood in a mansion by the sea in Liberia, her family’s flight after the coup d'état in 1980, and her later reunion with a foster sister left behind.
Call Number: DT636.53.C66 A3 2008
Walking the Bible
Walking the Bible (2001)
Bruce S. Feiler
Feiler recounts his life-changing journey through 10,000 miles of biblical lands, starting at Mount Ararat, in Turkey, and ending on Mount Nebo, in Jordan.
Call Number: DS49.7 .F45 2001
Eat, Pray, Love
Eat, Pray, Love (2006)
Elizabeth Gilbert
Gilbert tells how, after suffering a midlife crisis and divorce, she went on a year-long journey to Italy, India, and Indonesia, seeking pleasure, enlightenment, and balance.
Call Number: G154.5.G55 A3 2006
The Lost City of Z
The Lost City of Z (2009)
David Grann
In 1925, British explorer Percy Fawcett disappeared while seeking El Dorado in the Amazon. Grann interweaves the story of Fawcett’s quest with the story of his own research, which takes him through Britain and South America.
Call Number: F2546 .G747 2009
Mountains Beyond Mountains
Mountains Beyond Mountains (2003)
Tracy Kidder
Kidder follows Dr. Paul Farmer in his quest to bring medical care to the poor, mainly in Haiti but also in Cuba, Peru, and Russia.
Call Number: R154.F36 K53 2003
Every Day in Tuscany
Every Day in Tuscany (2010)
Frances Mayes

Mayes shares the pleasures of her life in Tuscany, poetically reflecting on people, art, and food.

Call Number: DG734.23 .M3785 2010
Long Way Round
Long Way Round (2004)
Ewan McGregor, Charley Boorman
Two actors recount their three-month, 20,000-mile motorbike journey from London to New York, crossing three continents.
Call Number: G440 .M49 2004
Stones into Schools
Stones into Schools (2009)
Greg Mortenson
The author of Three Cups of Tea shares his ongoing efforts to establish schools for girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Call Number: LC2330 .M66 2009
Reading Lolita in Tehran
Reading Lolita in Tehran  (2003)
Azar Nafisi
Nafisi's memoir focuses on a private seminar in classics that she gave seven women in Iran in the
Call Number: PE64 .N34 A3 2003
Cleopatra (2010)
Stacy Schiff
The Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer brings to life one of history’s most intriguing women: Cleopatra, the last queen of Egypt.
Call Number: DT92.7 .S35 2010
Educating Alice
Educating Alice (2004)
Alice Steinbach
The former Baltimore Sun journalist recounts adventures in various foreign places, including Scotland, where she attended Border-collie training, Kyoto, where she met geishas, and England, where she attended a Jane Austen convention.
Call Number: PN4874.S682 A3 2004
To a Mountain in Tibet
To a Mountain in Tibet (2011)
Colin Thubron
Thubron offers an intimate travelogue of his trek to Kailas, the holiest mountain in Tibet, in the wake of his mother’s death.
Call Number: PR6070.H77 T58 2011
Unfamiliar Fishes
Unfamiliar Fishes  (2011)
Sarah Vowell
Vowell examines Hawaii's history, tracing the impact of missionaries who sought to make the island paradise a version of New England.
Call Number: DU625 .V89 2011
The Geography of Bliss
The Geography of Bliss (2010)
Eric Weiner
Weiner evaluates the happiness potential of more than three dozen countries, profiling such places as the American shores, Iceland, and the Bhutan jungles.
Call Number: HG4538 .W45 2010