Do readers have an obligation to history to read "difficult" books?

I was recently participating in BookBrowse's online book discussion for Vaddey Ratner's excellent novel, Music of the Ghosts, in which the main characters are survivors of the Khmer Rouge. Needless to say, since it discusses the horrors Cambodian citizens endured during the genocide, it contains some pretty intense passages, and one of my fellow posters mentioned finding the subject matter "difficult" and therefore hard to read about. This comment prompted an offline discussion with others regarding books that cover topics that we generally don't want to dwell on, specifically humanity's ability to be unimaginably cruel to others or indifferent to their suffering.  The question arose: As readers, do we have an obligation to history to read "difficult" books?

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Five Female-Focused Historical Novels for Book Clubs

Women are at the heart of each of these historical novels, and so are the deep challenges of holding family together and pursuing personal dreams all at the same time. The Women in the Castle and Manhattan Beach both explore the effects of war on women and their families, while Love and other Consolation Prizes and Rebellion take readers across time and place to shine a light on the hidden ways we are all connected. Finally See What I Have Done offers an intimate glimpse into one family's complicated dynamics - sometimes what we think we see isn't always what is true, and sometimes we are not as connected as we appear to be.

Each of these books are, or soon will be, available in paperback and are already available in e-book and hardcover. You'll find all you need to know to decide which of these are right for you and your book club on BookBrowse, including reviews and "beyond the book" articles, excerpts and reading guides.

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Reading Makes You Healthy Infographic

You're about to curl up with that book you selected from BookBrowse's Editor's Choice, and you have tea brewing in the kitchen. It's time to dive right into another world.

Did you know that when you reemerge, you come back healthier, more empathic, and sharper? Reading also helps you live longer too. A study has shown that those who read for more than 3.5 hours per week are 23% less likely to die than those who do not read books.

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Four Exceptional Female Comic Book Writers

Leia Birch, the central character in Joshilyn Jackson's The Almost Sisters, is the writer of a comic books series published by DC Comics. While the characters and the comic are both fictional, in real-life, as is in the book, female writers are in the minority. The comic book world is chock full of men - they are both characters in the pages and the writers and illustrators creating those pages - but women have made significant contributions to the genre. From the early 20th century, when comics were just entering the newspaper scene and Nell Brinkley became famous for her well-loved illustrations to Becky Cloonan, who was the first woman to draw Batman for DC Comics in 2012, women have written and drawn comics for newspapers, mainstream publishers, underground and independent publishers, and many have self-published their work too.

Here are a few contemporary highlights:

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Six Spectacular Books Set in East Africa for Book Clubs

East Africa is home to many countries with many different cultures, people, landscapes, traditions -- and stories. It would be a challenge for half a dozen books to give a balanced representation of a single country, let alone the 14 countries of continental Eastern Africa*, but we hope that these six books set in Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Zimbabwe (listed in approximate geographical order, north to south) will give you and your book club a small taste of the region and, perhaps, spark a thirst to learn more.

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Beyond the Book: Ireland

At BookBrowse we seek to help readers deepen their understanding of themselves and the world around them. We go beyond the book, providing original articles that look at cultural, historical or contextual aspects of each book we feature.

With this in mind, and with Saint Patrick's Day approaching, here we highlight some recent books that explore Ireland and Irish culture, and share each book's corresponding "Beyond the Book" article - for free!

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