Reading books from around the world is something I love to focus on. I love traveling to different countries via books and seeing the world through other’s eyes. Sadly over the past couple of years, though, I haven’t been paying as much attention to where I’m reading nor where the authors I’m reading are from. This means that while my reading is still fairly diverse, the books I’ve been reading have been mostly set in the United States and the UK.
Today the ladies at The Broke and the Bookish are asking for our favorite books that aren’t set in the US. I took this one step further and am sharing books set abroad by authors who are not from the US. This means I had to leave out some of my favorites–The Poisonwood Bible (Congo), Maus (Poland), The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Dominican Republic)–but hopefully you can find something on the list to diversify your reading list.
Books From Around the World
The Bone People by Keri Hulme (New Zealand) – A beautiful and tender story about the tenuous relationship between an outcast woman, an orphaned boy, and a haunted man. Hulme focuses on the Maori culture and the way that the indiginous people are margionalized in New Zealand. A touching read. On Goodreads
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (India) – Set in 1960s India, The God of Small Things centers around young twins and an Untouchable whom they both love dearly despite “love laws.” While this wasn’t the easiests of reads, it gripped me while reading it and has had a lasting impact on me. More of my thoughts | On Goodreads
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (Canada) – I feel a bit of a cheat including a book set in Canada in this list, but I love Atwood’s books set in Toronto which make me nostalgic for the years that I lived there when I was young. The Blind Assassin is part mystery, part science fiction, but entirely engrossing. On Goodreads
I Remember Beirut by Zeina Abirached (Lebanon) – This graphic memoir shows what life was like during the Lebanese Civil War through the eyes of a child. I loved the black and white illustrations, but what struck me was seeing the everyday juxtaposed with a wartorn country. More of my thoughts | On Goodreads
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka (Ukraine) – Partly set in the UK and partly set in Ukraine, I learned so much about wartime and peacetime life through Lewycka’s quirkly little book. A Short History is full of colorful characters and is a gem of a book. More of my thoughts | On Goodreads
Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata (Japan) – The book that made me put Seeing the Cherry Blossoms in Japan on my bucket list. While the book details a love affair, the descriptions of the Japanese countryside and culture were unforgettable. More of my thoughts | On Goodreads
My Father’s Paradise by Ariel Sabar (Iraq) – I’m breaking my “authors not from the US” with this selection, but I wanted to include Sabar’s memoir/biography/history of searching for his Jewish roots in Kurdish Iraq. Certainly when we think of Iraq, we don’t automatically think of the Jewish faith, but reading Sabar’s book brought to light so many things about the country and religion. More of my thoughts | On Goodreads
The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende (Chile) – One of those sweeping South American family sagas with all of the magical realism. No but really–a great multi-generational story that will make any soap opera look tame. I read this one over a decade ago and some of the scenes are still so vivid in my memory. On Goodreads
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel (Mexico) – Admittedly I didn’t love this little love story set in Mexico, but so many people rave about it that I’ve kept it on my shelf for a re-read one day. Do you do that? Plan to read a book you didn’t love the first time to see if you like it better the second? Sigh. More of my thoughts | On Goodreads
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Nigeria) – Another book set in the 1960s, this time during the Nigerian-Baifran war. A war I didn’t realize happened and a country I didn’t realize existed (Biafra) until I read this book. Half of a Yellow Sun is a character study and one that I would love to revisit. You know, right after I read Adichie’s other books first! More of my thoughts | On Goodreads
Coming up with this list made me realize how much I miss reading the world.