toptentuesday2

Top 10 Tuesday is a weekly meme created by the bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish (graphic from them as well) that I thought would be fun to join in on.

The theme for this week’s Top 10 Tuesday is Books Set Outside the US. You will notice some author repeats in my list, but I’m still getting used to reading internationally, and I have adored all of these books. Some of these books are set in Victorian London-esque settings so I’m counting them, some are set in Africa, some in Europe, and one in India. What they all have in common is they have somehow stuck with me after I’ve read them.

157967001. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

So technically speaking, Americanah is set in the US and in Nigeria, but it was too good not to include. It tells the love story of Ifemelu and Obinwe, but it’s so much more. It’s the story of Ifemelu’s immigration to the US for school, the hardships involved, and the assimilation that threatens to tear them apart. An absolute must read in my book because the story is engaging and amazing, but it also says a lot about race and immigration in the US.

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2. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This was a very recent read for me, but I’d been meaning to get to it ever since finishing Americanah, especially due to a friend’s recommendation that it was better than the other. I did not find it to be better necessarily than Americanah, though it was certainly different. Set entirely in Nigeria, the story was written with an aching tenderness that was also biting. The story of a family coping with abuse, despite outward appearances, and the circumstances it leads to, were rendered in such a way as to be universal, yet unique to the political situation in Nigeria. Recommend if you like literary fiction and stories about families.

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3. Sorceror to the Crown by Zen Cho

Oh, the ways in which I love this book! A fantasy set in an alternate Victorian London, with a main character of color and a strong heroine. Lovely book about magic, with a steampunk feel to it. Hard to describe beyond that, but I loved it, and am eagerly awaiting more entries into the series.

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4. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

An incredible little book set in World War II Germany. It’s the story of a girl, her foster family, and the Jewish man hiding in their basement. It’s a story about the love of reading and the power of literature to unite us in uncertain times. It will also make you cry. I haven’t seen the movie version yet, but I bawled during this book. Highly recommend especially for historical fiction/literary fiction fans.

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5. Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo

The only nonfiction book on this list, it’s still written like a novel. Following several families and their fortunes in the Mumbai slums, it reads quickly, but is also highly informative and sad. While it will kind of leave you hanging, wondering about final outcomes of each person followed, isn’t that just kind of what life does?

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6. All Our Names by Dinaw Mengestu

Set during an African revoluation, this is the story of 2 friends as they come of age and eventually grow apart. While parts are set in the American Midwest, the meat of the story occurs in Africa, where choices are made and relationships and lives forever changed. The story also had some really good prose.

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7. The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson

Likely if you haven’t read this trilogy by now, you’re not planning to, but I had to throw it in any way. The story of Lizbeth Salandar and Mikhael Blomkvist is more than just a mere thriller in my book. Hard to put down, harder to forget. The suspense is a mile a minute, the characters intriguing, and the subject matter is definitively not trivial.

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8. The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This tapestry of stories about Nigeria and Nigerians is a thought provoking collection written in an often hauntingly beautiful voice. A collection of short stories from the aforementioned author of Americanah and Purple Hibiscus, full of insights on race and feminism. Good collection of socially aware stories.

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9. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I truly remember this book with fondness. Set in a version of Victorian London, the story was a little drawn out, yet I felt that added to the air if mystery surrounding it, allowing me to slowly put the pieces together, much as the characters had to as well. Reminded me very much of movies like The Prestige or books like Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.

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10. The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano

As I’m finding my voice as a reviewer, you will likely notice varying renditions or direct repetitions of the phrase “hauntingly beautiful”. However, sometimes it’s just true. This book is set in Italy at varying points in time. It’s a beautiful story of missed opportunity, of two outcasts both profoundly damaged by traumatic childhood experiences. They find each other in high school, and kind of bump together, not quite uniting. I really felt for both characters, even though I could not always understand their pain, but could understand their decisions. In some ways, it reminded me of One Day, but was much darker and more realistic than that. Highly recommend.

All images courtesy of Goodreads.com.

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6 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books Set Outside the US

  1. Great list, I read and love some of the book. Adiche is one of my favourite authors and I love seeing her book three times on your list ♡
    And Millenium trilogy is also one of my favourites 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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