This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about books set outside the US. I’ll be honest, the majority of what I read is set in the US (or other planets or worlds that don’t actually exist), but I do make a conscious effort to read diversely, which includes books with international settings and books that are written by authors from other countries.
I limited myself to one book per country for this list, and tried to pick those books that really highlight their setting, books that are about their countries as much as they are about the characters in them. They’re not necessarily my favorite books set outside the US (let’s face it, that list would be almost entirely UK-based), but they are books I enjoyed that gave me a greater appreciation of the country they are set in.
- Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel – Canada. Okay, part of this is set in the US, but most of it takes place in Canada. And I don’t know any other book I’ve read set in Canada. It was kind of interesting seeing the differences between each country, especially in a post-apocalyptic setting.
- Big Little Lies by Lianne Moriarty – Australia. Not my typical genre, but I really enjoyed this book (so did my grandma, so you know it’s good). It’s set in Australia, which was really interesting. I’ve been reading a decent number of books set in Australia, and I love it. Partly because my arachnophobia will likely prevent me from ever actually visiting that particular continent.
- The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais – India/France. Set partially in India, but primarily in rural France, this book is a wonderful story about an immigrant family who creates an amazing new life for themselves. The culture clash is really well done. And who doesn’t love a book about food?
- I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai – Pakistan. This is one of my favorite memoirs. And one of the things I loved about it is how beautifully Malala portrays her home country of Pakistan. It’s not a country I see in literature a lot, and her writing makes me want to go there. I also particularly adored the way she contrasted her love for her country and it’s natural beauty with the terrible government and the Taliban regime that rules there.
- The Kite Runner by Khaled Hossini – Afghanistan. This book is heartbreaking and beautiful. This is one of the first adult books that really made me cry.
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – Germany. I managed to make it through this list with only one WWII book! This one completely blew me away, so I couldn’t not put it on the list. It did a really great job of showing Germany during WWII, which I found really interesting.
- War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy – Russia. This is pretty much a novel about Russia. While I did find Anna Karenina more entertaining, W&P was more educational – a lot of the events of this book actually happened and feature real historical figures, like Napoleon. This is a must-read for anyone who likes Russia or Russian history.
- Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer – Ukraine. I love Foer’s books, and this is one of my favorites. It’s basically a mini road trip across Ukraine, and the culture clash is basically most of the humor in this book. It’s so good! (The movie is also excellent if you don’t want to read the book.)
- The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng – Malaysia. I’ve only read a few chapters of this, but the setting is so, so beautiful. It deserves to be on this list. Plus, I’ve read very few books set in Southeast Asia, and this one makes me want to read more. Also, I should actually finish reading this one.
- Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson – England (Scotland). I had to have a token British book on this list. While this book is set in London, it was inspired by one of my favorite cities: Edinburgh, Scotland. If you’ve ever been to Edinburg (and walked around at night), you’ll know the feeling that is totally evident in this book. It’s a wonderfully dark classic.
That’s it for this week’s post! I hope you enjoyed it – I’m looking forward to reading all your TTT posts. Let me know in the comments what your favorite book set outside the US is.