Cultural Reads 75: Buddhist Koans, Kontiki & Russian Throat Singing

Good morning, 

And welcome to the Cultural Reads Newsletter with worldwide book, music, and movie recommendations. 

In today’s newsletter: History Podcasts, Russian Novels, Brazilian Holland, Buddhist Koans, Kontiki & Russian Throat Singing.

🎧 10 Best History Podcasts

Are you into history, and do you like podcasts?

Then I have something for you!

Today, I’m sharing these 10 best history podcasts with a unique history angle.

It’s fun, broadens your scope, and provides new perspectives.

📘 Best Russian Books

Russian literature is one of the best in the world!

It not only gives us unique insights into what was happening in the 19th century, but it also breaks down the emotions and thoughts of characters to help us understand ourselves.

You can learn about the best Russian literature books here.

🎵 Huun-Huur-Tu (Russia)

I sometimes joke that if someone asks you what music you like, you’d answer something peculiar, like minimal garage techno from South Kosovo. 
The longer I write this blog, the more I resemble this caricature.

So, let’s get super niche. 

Here’s a fantastic YouTube concert by Huun-Huur-Tu, a band from southern Siberia belonging to the Tuvan people. The Tuvans have historically been livestock-herding nomads, which influenced their music.

They practice a technique called throat singing, similar to that of famous Mongolian music bands like The Hu.

📷 Holambra (Brazil)

In the picture above, I’m not in the Netherlands but in Brazil after visiting the Dutch colony Holambra.

Holambra was founded by 500 Dutch farmers who emigrated after WWII and started with limited resources until they turned the area into the biggest flower producer in South America.   

It was funny to see so many Dutch elements and interesting to learn about the hardships of starting from scratch in a country you don’t know.

📙 Training in Compassion (Tibetan Buddhism)

A friend recommended Training in Compassion as a great intro to Zen Buddhism.

It’s a collection of short phrases (like koans). The idea is to choose a sentence that resonates most and to stay with it for some time to let the learnings sink in. Go here for more spiritual books.

🍿 Kontiki (Norway)

Do you like adventurous stories? Then you will love the movie Kontiki.

The film is based on the real story of explorer Thor Heyerdahl, who led a crew on a wooden raft on a 7,000 km voyage across the Pacific to prove ancient South Americans could have settled in Polynesia.

Did the seemingly impossible journey succeed? You can find out here

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2 Responses

  1. I *love* Thor Heyerdal’s books – all of them! Whether you end up believing his theories or not, he’s an amazing writer and so full of adventure! When I was clearing out my bookcase several years ago and getting rid of most of my physical books – my collection of crappy, 2nd-hand copies of Thor Heyerdal books made the cut and I still have them 🙂

    1. I actually just heard of him, but it’s really good. I’ll have to check out the other books as well then!

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