Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books Set Outside The US

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup of book bloggers hosted by The Broke and The BookishThis week's topic: books set outside the US! I think a lot of us (or maybe just me?) tend to read fiction set within our own country...it's just instantly familiar, there's no learning curve. Thankfully I do sort my books on Goodreads by country setting, so I'm going to try to do no more than one from each country!



The Kite Runner (Afghanistan): I think most of us have read this one by now, yes? If you've somehow managed to not, I definitely suggest that you do because this story about friendship and guilt and what we owe the people we love is universal and heartbreaking and a must-read.

Number the Stars (Denmark): I'll admit that it's been a hot second (read: well over a decade) since I read this book about a young Danish girl whose family helps a Jewish family escape into Sweden to avoid concentration camps. But it's a testament to how powerful this book is that I still remember and think fondly of it all these years later.

The Remains of the Day (England): I loved this book so much. I'm going to keep talking about it forever. It's beautiful and sad and wonderful and everyone should read it.

Les Miserables (France): I'm inclined towards theater geekery, but I've actually never seen the musical based off of this book. I did see the terrible movie, though. With all due respect to the musical, I have to believe the book is better, just because a book clocking in at well over 1000 pages is inevitably richer than a 2-2.5 hour musical. There are long passages about economic fairness that are still deeply relevant to the world we live in, and the sprawling story is very well-told.

A Suitable Boy (India): I read this either the summer before college or the summer after my freshman year, I can't remember which. My mom had a copy, and I looked at its 1400 pages and figured it should keep me occupied for a while. It did more than keep me occupied, I found it consuming and read it constantly until it was done. It's about family and love and marriage and the Partition of India and it's incredible. Yes, it takes forever to read. Worth it.

Memoirs of a Geisha (Japan): I read this book so many times in high school and college that my original copy has a cover with corners missing. I know he had an issue with his primary source, geisha Mineko Iwasaki, who sued him for naming her in his acknowledgements when he'd promised not to and later wrote her own book. But I still wish he'd ever written anything else, because I loved this book.

Girl with a Pearl Earring (Netherlands): Another high school favorite! I'd actually already liked the painting, and this fictionalized history behind it of a young woman who gets drawn into the world of painter Johannes Vermeer was really enjoyable. I re-read it several times and it's still on my shelf, so it's probably time for another re-read!

Anna Karenina (Russia): I used to think I hated Russian lit after some failed attempts at this book and some Dostoevsky in high school. Turns out I was just too young for Anna Karenina (still hate Dostoevsky though), because when I read it a few years ago I blew through it's 1200 pages in like two weeks. Tolstoy is amazing.

Cry the Beloved Country (South Africa): My high school AP English teacher was a native Louisianan and had the accent to prove it, but she always encouraged us to read diverse books. And in some cases, MADE us read them: we had to choose between two books to read about the Black female experience and the Black male experience (we had to read at least one in each category), and Cry, The Beloved Country was mandatory reading for everyone. This novel's themes of individuals bridging the deep racial divisions of their country through love and forgiveness resonates with me still today.

Let Me In (Sweden): I like vampire media. Buffy. Twilight. I never got much into Anne Rice, but not everything is for everyone. I actually saw the movie first, which is really great and creepy as hell, and then when the book went on Kindle sale I picked it up. It's just as unsettling and delicately told, a haunting twist on the vampire lore you think you know.

6 comments

  1. A diverse list! I, too, found A Suitable Boy engrossing, and loved The Remains of the Day.

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    1. I'd love to re-read A Suitable Boy one of these days but that's a long one to commit to a full re-read of!

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  2. I wanted to read Les Miserables for so long but I never try to set a moment for it, I should very soon. I love the musical, it actually my second favorite but you're right about the fact that 2 hours or so of a stage production can't be just as condensed as the story from which is based upon!

    Great choices and new books to add to my TBR list!
    Giova @ Corazones Literarios

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    1. It's really a wonderful book and worth the read...but it's a long one for sure! I really need to see a stage production of the musical one of these days!

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  3. I love Anna Karenina - I've read it twice! A couple of years ago I finally read War and Peace, which was incredibly daunting, but so worth it. I took an adult ed. class on it with a couple of friends, which was definitely the way to go!

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    1. Ooo that sounds like a great way to read it! I've got really good intentions to go back and re-read it in more depth, like with some sort of class or at least an annotated edition, but I don't know if it'll come to fruition...I've got so many new books to read that spending that long on the same book again just might not happen

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