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The Ultimate Expat Book List

Travelling for Chinese New Year and looking for a good beach read? Or looking for a book to help your kids transition to a new school? Or just looking for a great book for an expat book club? We’ve got a great list of expat must reads!


For Newbies

At Home Anywhere: Six Proven Expat Secrets for Making Yourself at Home in Any Foreign Country” (2012) While it’s probably safe to say their are no miracle “secrets” to feeling at home abroad, Rob Robideau can make it feel less overwhelming. Having relocated from the midwestern USA to Nepal, he shares tips, strategies and lessons learned for everyone from retirees to business people to missionaries.


For Humor

Expat Etiquette: How to Look Good in Bad Places” (2016) With a sometimes heavy dose of sarcasm, humor and the occasional naughty word, this book promises to become an expat favourite. You can read excerpts from the book on their blog until it publishes in April. Get practical advice on navigating all kinds of tricky situations in faraway lands.  

“Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure” (2004) – Sarah Macdonald visited India as a single woman in her twenties and didn’t walk away with the most favourable memories. Years later, when she made a surprising return thanks to her husbands’ job, she became determined to find inner peace in this exotic land. This book is the hilarious retelling of her adventures.


For Trailing Spouses

The Expat Partner’s Survival Guide” (2015). With a comprehensive website to accompany the book, author Clara Wiggins’ is well traveled indeed. Born to diplomat parents, she’s lived the life of an expat (currently based in South Africa). Her book is less “self-help” and more “support.” Universal topics about having children and treating domestic help with respect are particularly well done.

“Diplomatic Baggage: The Adventures of a Trailing Spouse” (2007). Brigid Keenan traded in her glamorous life in London to live abroad with her diplomat husband. After 39 year globe trotting, she writes about all the good, the bad and the ugly adventures, wondering if she made the right decision. Honest and engaging, a great read for any trailing spouse.


For Women

Expat: Women’s True Tales of Life Abroad” (2002). If you’re looking for a variety of voices and experiences, this is a great choice. Twenty two women from all over the world, share their experiences living, working and raising families abroad.  


For Parents

Raising Global Nomads: Parenting Abroad in an On-Demand World” (2006). Raising children abroad can be challenging for you and your kids. Robin Pascoe’s fifth book for expat families, discusses the changing landscape of parenting, and the world, and offers an honest look at lessons she’s learned during her many years as an expat.

Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds” (2009). Authors David Pollock and Ruth Van Reken delve deep into the emotional and psychological issues that third culture kids face from learning to fit in to developing one’s identity, the second edition of a 1999 book explores the many facets of being and parenting TCKs.

“Writing out of Limbo: International Childhoods, Global Nomads, and Third Culture Kids” (2011). Another compilation of essays about the benefits and challenges the growing population of TCKs face. The thirty authors bring a wide variety of perspective and vast array of knowledge to this complex subject.


For Those Heading Back Home

Burn Up or Splash Down: Surviving the Culture Shock of Re-entry” (2007). Author Marion Knell likens the repatriation to a space shuttle returning to the earth atmosphere. She cautions that while many expats are prepared for the adjustments upon moving abroad, many don’t expect to experience reverse culture shock. Both insightful and supportive, this book is great for those heading home.

The Art of Coming Home” (2001). Not only does author Craig Storti explain why repatriation can be difficult, he offers practical and proven strategies to help with the transitions. Great for business people, families, students, missionaries and spirited wanderers.  

“I’m a Stranger Here Myself”(2000). Popular traveler Bill Bryson writes with his trademark wit about his his return to the U.S. after 20 years in Britain. Although published more than a decade ago, it’s still a fun and relatable read for many expats.


For Fiction Fans

The Expat Diaries: Misfortune Cookie” (2012). A quick light read by Michele Gorman about an American in Hong Kong. She’s also written the popular titles, “The Expat Diaries: Single in the City,” and “The Expat Diaries: The Twelve Days to Christmas.”

“The Expats”(2013). This New York Times bestseller, by Chris Pavone, follows the world of Kate Moore, and American expat in Paris. A tremendous secret, a couple who are not as they seem and a suspiciously behaving husband make for a page turning thriller.


Have a favourite you’d include on the list? Log onto our Facebook page and let us know!


By Kathleen Siddell, February 2016

Photo: 123rf.com

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