Monday, July 18, 2016

TOP TEN TUESDAY | Books That Are Out of This...Country.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme for bloggers who like books and lists. It's awesome and is graciously hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Being a sheltered, self-absorbed American, I was excited for this week's topic to give me a new way to look at my book list. The topic is:
Ten Books Set Outside The US (I don't know about you but sooo much of what I read is set in the US and I love finding new recs of stuff set outside of it!)
How diversely, geographically speaking do I read? The answer?  Not very.  My reading is very U.S. and U.K.-centric, I'm afraid and I have read very little outside of Europe.  Those books that are further afield are not generally books in translation either but written by an American or European.  Nice wake up call that I am likely missing out on some great literature so I am really looking forward to getting some recs from this week's lists.


1Still Life (Chief Inspector Gamache #1) by Louise Penny

First our neighbors to the north!  I've likely read a few books set in Canada or at least written by Canadians but this is a recent mystery that I very much enjoyed.  It also had an incredibly strong sense of place, set in a charming, small (I think fictional) town called Three Pines.  

2This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart

This Rough Magic is a delightful romantic suspense novel that takes place on the Greek island of Corfu which lies off the Greek and Albanian coasts.  It is also one of the islands suspected to be the inspiration for the island in Shakespeare's The Tempest.  This speculation as well as the island's unique culture and scenic coastlines play a large role in this fun book.

3. Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

This book is a super fun young adult novel focused on an albino Nigerian girl named Sunny who finds out that she is heir to a magical heritage.  Rooted in African myth and a great story.

4. The Blackhouse and The Lewis Man (The Lewis Trilogy) by Peter May

This a vividly atmospheric mystery trilogy (I haven't yet read book 3) about an Edinburgh cop who returns to his home  - the Island of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides of the coast of Scotland.  The island's character is the biggest contributor to the unique atmosphere of these books.  

5. State of Wonder and Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

This feels like a bit of a cheat because Ann Patchett is solidly American and the country of setting for Bel Canto is never explicitly mentioned but the settings in both novels are so evocative and the characters are eclectic in their origins.  State of Wonder takes place in the Amazon Rainforests of Brazil. I love both these novels and they made me a solid fan of Ann Patchett's writing. 

6. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

This is another book where the setting is almost a character.  This is also one of the few works in translation on the list and it is so fantastic and very bookish.

7. The City & The City by China Mieville

So with all the speculative fiction I read, there had to be an imaginary location:).  I chose this one because it is so unique and the place is so important.  It feels very real.  A noir detective novel that takes place in two vaguely Eastern European cities that occupy the same space and citizens of each are trained not to see the other city.  It's freaky and pretty awesome.

8. Smilla's Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg

A great mystery/suspense novel set in the cold north.  Really lovely writing and a great female protagonist. A precursor to all the "cold crime" that is so popular these days?

9. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

This is a book I don't think I've talked about before on the blog? And I don't know why cause I really loved it.  About the unlikely friendship between a precocious 12 year old girl, a Japanese businessman and the bookish concierge in their Paris apartment building.  

10. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

I can't remember if it is explicit that this takes place in England but it stills feels very grounded there. One of my favorite books of all time and a unique future look at England.


So that's my very Eurocentric tour of books that I've enjoyed that took place outside of the U.S.  I look forward to getting ideas on expanding my travels from the rest of the Top Ten Tuesday lists! 

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