My various book groups have really helped me to branch out to more diverse reading over the past 10 years or so. I often read books for book clubs that I might not have picked up on my own but that I end up enjoying...and very often, those are books set in other places or immersed in other cultures.
For the past 4 years, I have participated in Book Journey's Where Are You Reading Challenge, so I have tracked books set in various states, as well as in other countries. Last year, I read these books set in 13 different countries around the world:
Australia: The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman, Tales of Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan, Stolen by Lucy Christopher
Canada: In Other Worlds by Margaret Atwood
England: The Invisible Wall by Harry Bernstein, Crispin -The Cross of Lead by Avi, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Japan: The Yokota Officer's Club by Sarah Bird, The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Agawa
North Korea: The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson
Germany: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne, City of Women by David Gilham
France: The Infinity Ring #2: Divide and Conquer by Carrie Ryan
Italy: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
South Africa: The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh
Russia: Dreams of My Russian Summers by Andre Makine
Ireland: In the Woods by Tana French
Lithuania: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Scotland: Flyaway by Lucy Christopher
Of these, I would say that The Orphan Master's Son had a particularly strong (and scary) sense of place, and The Invisible Wall by Harry Bernstein, City of Women by David Gilham, Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh, Dreams of My Russian Summers by Andre Makine, and Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys all had a strong sense of place but in a particular time in history.
So far, in 2014, I've visited 3 different countries listed in my Where Are You Reading Challenge:
France: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth WeinIndia is one place I seem to visit frequently in books - oddly, it is the only place that I have a separate category for on this blog! You can see all the books I've read set in India here.
Czechoslovakia: The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
India: The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
I love to make top ten lists, and three of my past lists fit perfectly with this topic:
- Top Ten Books Travel-Related Books (some of these are actually about travel but others just have such a strong sense of place that you feel as if you've traveled after reading them)
- Top Ten Books That Taught Me Something (many of these fit with this topic of broadening my horizons in multiple ways)
- Top Ten Books That Took Me Out of My Comfort Zone (these are not necessarily set in other places or cultures but in some way expanded my reading interests and my knowledge)