ChinaSource Blog PostsCross-cultural

10 Books on Culture and Cultural Adjustment

From the series Going to China


To round out our series of posts on living cross-culturally, here are ten of my favorite books on the subject (with excerpts from Amazon descriptions).  

Books written from a secular perspective: 

The Art of Crossing Cultures, by Craig Storti 

In this completely revised and expanded edition of the classic The Art of Crossing Cultures, Craig Storti shows what it takes to encounter a new culture head-on and succeed. This one-of-a-kind guidebook to bridging the cultural divide - with more than 50,000 copies sold worldwide - incorporates a stellar sampling of the writings of some of the world's greatest writers, poets and observers of the human condition. 

Figuring Foreigners Out: A Practical Guide, by Craig Storti 

This hands-on resource can be used as a self-paced guide or in a facilitated (work or academic course) environment. The book enables readers to encounter and confront culture head on, to interact with and respond to it. In the process, culture will become something real and alive, something to deal with, not merely think about.  

Cross-Cultural Dialogues: 74 Brief Encounters with Cultural Difference, by Craig Storti 

Cross-Cultural Dialogues is a collection of brief conversation (4-8 lines) between an American and someone from another country and culture. Short as each dialogue is, it has buried within it at least one, and usually several breaches of cultural norms which the reader is challenged to figure out.  

The Art of Coming Home, by Craig Storti 

Leave-taking, the honeymoon stage, reverse culture shock, and eventual readjustment—The Art of Coming Home lays out the four stages of the reentry process and details practical strategies for dealing with the challenges you will face each step of the way.  

The Whole World Guide to Language Learning, by Terry Marshall 

If you are going abroad and want to learn the language of your host country, The Whole World Guide To Language Learning is the book for you! Whether you enroll in formal language classes or work language learning into a busy schedule, Terry Marshall's in situ (on location) approach to language learning will fit your needs. 

The Whole World Guide to Culture Learning, by Daniel J. Hess 

The Whole World Guide to Culture Learning serves as a handbook for cross-cultural adaptation and a guide to becoming an effective sojourner abroad. Beginning with basic questions and then delving into the intricacies of specific interactions, J. Daniel Hess comprehensively covers how to understand a new culture. He includes self-instructional units, exercises and methods so you can pursue cultural learning in groups or individually so that you can both experience the vast and rich opportunities a new culture has to offer and learn from it. 

Books written from a Christian perspective:  

Cross-cultural Servanthood: Serving the World with Christ-like Humility, by Duane Elmers 

Cross-cultural specialist Duane Elmer gives Christians practical advice for serving other cultures with sensitivity and humility. With careful biblical exposition and keen cross-cultural awareness, he shows how our actions and attitudes often contradict and offend the local culture. He offers principles and guidance for avoiding misunderstandings and building relationships in ways that honor others. Here is culturally-savvy insight into how we can follow Jesus' steps to become global servants. 

Cross cultural Connections: Stepping Out and Fitting in Around the World, by Duane Elmers 

Experienced cross-cultural specialist Duane Elmer provides a compass for navigating through different cultures. He shows us how to avoid pitfalls and cultural faux pas, as well as how to make the most of opportunities to build cross-cultural relationships. Filled with real-life illustrations and practical exercises, this guide offers the tools needed to reduce apprehension, communicate effectively, and establish genuine trust and acceptance. 

Ministering Cross-culturally: A Model for Effective Personal Relationships, by Sherwood G. Lingenfelter and Marvin K. Mayers 

With more than 125,000 copies in print, this model for effective personal relationships in a multicultural and multiethnic world has proven successful for many. On the occasion of its thirtieth anniversary, this contemporary classic has been thoroughly updated to reflect Sherwood Lingenfelter's mature thinking on the topic and to communicate with modern readers, helping them minister more effectively to people of different cultural and social backgrounds. 

Effective Intercultural Communication (Encountering Mission): A Christian Perspective, by Scott Moreau 

This addition to the acclaimed Encountering Mission series is designed to offer contemporary intercultural communication insights to mission students and practitioners. Authored by leading missionary scholars with significant intercultural experience, the book explores the cultural values that show up in intercultural communication and examines how we can communicate effectively in a new cultural setting.  

Any of these books will be helpful as you think about managing your own cultural adjustment process. 

Image credit: Photo by Koushik Chowdavarapu on Unsplash. 
Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman is senior vice president of ChinaSource and editor of ZGBriefs. Prior to joining ChinaSource, Joann spent 28 years working in China, as an English teacher, language student, program director, and cross-cultural trainer for organizations and businesses engaged in China. She has also taught Chinese at the University... View Full Bio


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