Intercultural communication reading list

Looking for better ways to communicate across cultures and specific country-by-country advice? We hope you find these books useful! They are recommended for Americans going abroad or dealing with international students and colleagues.

Brit-ThinkBrit-Think, Ameri-Think: A Transatlantic Survival GuideJane Walmsley
Hilariously apt look at two nations divided by a common language.

EuropeansUnderstanding Europeans
Stuart Miller
Miller maintains Europeans are the way they are due to their many centuries of rigid class structure, as well as an incredibly violent and hate-filled history, while Americans are an unusual people, molded by a Puritan ethic that all people are friends before God.

MisunderstandingsCultural misunderstandings: the French-American experience
Raymonde Carroll
Excellent look at difference in U.S. and French conversation styles.

ShogunShogun: A Novel of Japan
James Clavell
Considered to be one of the finest works about cross-cultural encounters.

Dave BarryDave Barry Does Japan
Dave Barry
Filled with a Regular Joe’s bafflement, yet hilarious and deceptively insightful.

Fire in the LakeFire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam
Frances Fitzgerald
Opening chapter on “States of Mind” examines the linguistic and cultural differences that led to U.S. woe in Vietnam. Much of the information is broadly applicable to Asia and even small villages everywhere.

Do's and TaboosDo’s & Taboos Around the World
Roger E. Axtell
Helps executives and tourists avoid missteps and misunderstandings. Terrific analysis of weaknesses of American English, including the seven deadliest sins:

  • local color
  • jargon
  • slang
  • officialese
  • humor
  • vocabulary
  • grammar

Also in this series:

GesturesGestures: The Do’s & Taboos of Body Language around the World

EnglishDo’s & Taboos of Using English Around the World

Trip AbroadDo’s & Taboos of Preparing for Your Trip Abroad

WomenDo’s & Taboos Around the World for Women in Business

Kiss BowKiss, Bow, or Shake Hands: How to Do Business in Sixty Countries
Terri Morrison
Written by executives who prepare other executives for international travel. The introduction discusses cognitive styles, value systems and negotiation strategies in different cultures, explaining how delicate they make the process of intercultural relations.

JourneyA Journey of One’s Own (Second Edition): Uncommon Advice for the Independent Woman Traveler
Thalia Zepatos
Excellent practical advice in chapter called “Getting to know new cultures.”

GenderGender and Discourse
Deborah Tannen
Scholarly guide that looks at differences in how men and women communicate in many cultures, including Greece, Japan, Madagascar and United States. Makes point that most people communicate indirectly.

The Travelers’ Guide series
Good basic information on how to converse, dine, tip, drive, bargain, dress, make friends and conduct business. Titles available:
Guide AsianThe Traveler’s Guide to Asian Customs and Manners: How to Converse, Dine, Tip, Drive, Bargain, Dress, Make Friends, and Conduct Business While Asia

Guide LatinThe Traveler’s Guide to Latin American Customs and Manners

Guide EuropeanEuropean Customs and Manners

Guide AfricaThe Travelers’ Guide to African Customs & Manners: How to converse, dine, tip, drive, bargain, dress, make friends, and conduct business while in sub-Saharan Africa
“Way” books
The German Way and additional Passport titles look at behavior, food, etc.
Hispanic WayThe Hispanic Way
German WayThe German Way
Italian WayThe Italian Way
Japanese WayThe Japanese Way Russian WayThe Russian Way: Aspects of Behavior, Attitudes, and Customs of the Russians (Language – Russian)

Lonely Planet guidebooks
Each of nearly 200 guidebooks contains “Facts about the Country: Culture” with useful information.

The Culture Shock! series
55 titles examining in depth customs, business practices, meals and driving.

The Trans-Cultural Study Guide
Hundreds of thought-provoking questions designed to help the reader systematically study a foreign culture.