Top Books Set Outside the US

Posted July 19, 2016 by Carlisa in Top Ten Tuesday / 30 Comments

Top Ten Tuesday

Hello, hello my beautiful readers. I am happy hear to shine a light on some books that shine a light on a lot of you. At least where you may live. That’s one of the things I really like about book blogging, actually. I get to (virtually) meet so many people from countries that aren’t the United States—an opportunity I probably won’t have otherwise. So without further ado, this week’s TTT prompt is Ten Books Set Outside the US. So let’s have it, shall we?

Side note: I’m not including all the British literature I’ve read in my classes because that’d be a lot, a lot. And I’m also doing more than ten, but really I just went through my Goodreads read shelf and listed them here. And some of them aren’t completely set in that country, but a significant part is. Okay go:

earth

Germany

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
Maus by Art Spiegelman

*Cough* I’m realizing I need books in Germany that aren’t WWII historical fiction.

England

Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Stardust by Neil Gaiman (England + Magical kingdom)

France

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (I think they’re in France?)
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

Afghanistan

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Palestine

Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa

Iran

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Czech Republic

The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Canada

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

China

Cinder by Marissa Meyer (Future China still counts, yes?)

Netherlands

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Greece

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

Lithuainia

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

What I’ve Learned From Making This List: I need to read more books set outside the US! I guess I read a lot of fantasy that’s kind of set nowhere, but this list is way worse than I thought it’d be. Especially because a ton of these are WWII historical fiction! I want to read contemporary books set in these countries. I want to know what it’s like to live there now. Also I need to read books set in Asia. Cinder barely counts.

UPDATE: I went through my entire Goodreads read books and looked at each of the non-fantasy books that would have real settings. If I could figure out where they were set, I added them to this map that tracks where you’ve traveled. It’s super interesting to see, and I invite you to do it and tell me your results! I’ve “traveled” through books to 13.92% of the world. I think I need to step it up, huh? Here’s a picture of my “map” or you can click here to see the whole thing and the list of places.

traveled with books


Please, please, please, please give me your non-US recommendations! I want to hear them. Have you read any of the books on my list? Link me to your TTT!


  • Always makes me smile to see “Anna and the French Kiss” on Top 10 Tuesday (or any) lists. Also, I’ve heard “Code Name Verity” is a fabulous read. Love the ‘Sisterhood’ movies, but never read the books. 🙂

    • Yes I love the Anna series. Isla and the Happily Ever After is my favorite of the three; how about you?

      Code Name Verity is *beautiful.* You should read it if you haven’t already!

      • Much to my shame I’ve yet to read the other two ‘Anna’ novels; I KNOW! But I’m glad to know Isla’s story is memorable. I’ve little doubt the other books are as wonderful as Anna’s story!

        As for ‘Verity,’ I KNOW! I suspected it’s book I’ll feel much the same way about. 🙂

  • I forgot that The Fault in Our Stars is partly set in the Netherlands! Most books on my list are historical fictions set in other countries.

    • Yeah, a lot of mine are historical fiction too! They’re only in Amsterdam for a very short period, but I thought it was still worth including!

  • /Lauren Rebecca Hassan

    HP and Anna both made my list too!! I completely forgot about Scarlet and Cinder when making my list!!

    • Yeah they’re kind of future France and future China, so they’re kind of pushing the boundaries of this TTT, but that’s okay! The Anna and the French Kiss series is so good for traveling the world. I love it.

  • Love this list! I actually really love the topic this week as well haha – it’s crazy how many books are set in the US! But The Book Thief is a great book that’s set in Germany, definitely, and future China does count with Cinder!! 😀
    AND OH MY GOSH IM SO HAPPY YOU HAVE A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS IN THIS LIST. A Thousand Splendid Suns is probably my favourite book – I cried so much whilst reading it!!

    • A Thousand Splendid Suns is SO good, but I haven’t read it in a looong time, so maybe it’s time for a re-read. Have you read the Kite Runner by him?

  • Ali (@ thebandarblog)

    I love that you broke it down by country! How fun 😀

    • It was super interesting to see 🙂

  • Chrystal M

    I love that you listed them by country. I think I should sit down and list the books I’ve read by country to see how many places I’ve traveled through books. 😉

    • It was really fun to go through and do that! It definitely made me realize I need to branch out a little bit.

  • Jo Elliott

    The Book Thief, Code Name Verity and the Harry Potter series were all on my list this week too!
    My TTT: https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2016/07/19/top-ten-tuesday-66/

    • Great minds think alike, I guess, haha. Checking out your blog now!

  • That map is so cool!! Also, I think Cinder still counts because a bunch of the characters there were also Chinese which I think still created the diversity of that place. Even if it’s technically in an imagined future. But I see what you mean, doing my list made me aware of needing to try and read books with more diverse settings too. I did Books Set in Canada for my own TTT

    • Yes! I need more Asian and South American books. I can’t even think of any in those settings!

  • I’m so pleased that you’ve read Mornings in Jenin! Did you like it? I loved it! A lot! I like your map. I did something similar a while ago (it actually needs some updating); you can read about it here if you want 🙂 https://barefootmeds.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/read-around-the-world-with-google-maps/

    • Yes! I read it a few years ago and I don’t actually remember much about it, but I gave it five stars and shelved it as an all-time favorite on Goodreads…so I probably should go back and re-read and review it to help spread the word! I’m glad you loved it too! Going to check out your blog now 🙂

  • Sam

    I keep seeing Anne on a lot of people’s lists! I lived in PEI for 4 years and I haven’t read it yet. Shameful I know. Doing this list has made me really think about where the books I read are set. I also forgot about a lot of awesome books from other countries I read and forgot about.

    • Ah, yes, Anne of Green Gables is a classic! You should read it. I just read it this past year and I read the second book in the series a couple of weeks ago, but I love Anne so much. She’s so quirky and endearing. And *loves* that island.

  • I really love how you set this up and the map was a nice touch! It is so cool to see how much of the world you have read about. Ink by Amanda Sun is a really interesting book set in Japan. There are not a ton of books set in Asia in YA, at least from what I have read, so it was a nice twist. I also really enjoyed Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren, which is a historical fiction set in Italy. The setting is really unique with all of the tokens from Italian culture and history.

    • Oh, I think I’ve seen Ink on my Goodreads feed a couple of times. I just looked and saw that you gave it three stars—how was it for you then?

      And I just put Waterfall on my TBR!

  • Since you seem to enjoy historical fiction/WWII books (plus, many that you listed, I loved too), can I recommend Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys? It’s wonderful!
    And, since you enjoyed Khaled Hosseini’s books (again, books that I loved), I recommend The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi. It was amazing!

    • Ah! I’ve already read Between Shades of Gray, and I LOVED it. I can’t believe I forgot to ad it to my list (*add!*)

      And yes, Hosseini’s books are so amazing. I’ve never heard of the Pearl that Broke Its Shell, but I’m going to go check it out on Goodreads right now.

  • Gabi Dahlin

    Okay so that map is SO COOL. I actually haven’t read most of these, which is bad because a lot have historical elements and i’m a history major lol. Also, did you like Laini Taylor’s books? I’ve heard mixed things and I never know if I should bother reading them.

    • I LOVED Laini Taylor’s books, but I can see how they wouldn’t work for everyone. Do you like fantasy-ish?

      • Gabi Dahlin

        Yeah, a lot actually!

        • I think you should give them a try. I really, really loved that. Her writing is beautiful and her story is so unique. I’ve reviewed all three in the series if you want to check those out, but in a nutshell: I highly recommend them.

  • Mary Hinson

    I created a list a few years ago for a challenge I was participating in: http://knoxdiver.blogspot.com/2012/12/young-adult-novels-by-country.html