Booklist: Reading Around the World

World Tour Booklist: Reading Around the World

"There is no frigate like a book, to take us lands away" — Emily Dickinson

How is your summer going? Any travel? At Scintilla.info, we dream of travel but most of our road trips involve visiting our three grandchildren–not that we mind doing that at all! But we do travel in our reading, and we’ve reviewed some books that take us to real places, even if they are fictionally represented. (I apologize to any locations I overlook, as I am “traveling” from my memory of the books.)

 

Less,  Andrew Sean Greer

Let’s start with a book we reviewed last year. Less begins and ends in the United States, but the protagonist travels around the world, with stops in (among other places) Mexico, Italy, India, and Japan. Greer’s protagonist travels reluctantly, but finds more than he thought he could during his trip.

Book Review: Less,  Andrew Sean Greer

 

Midnight Riot, Ben Aaronovitvh Moon Over Soho, Rivers of London Book 2, Ben Aaronovitch Whispers Underground, Rivers of London Book 3, Ben Aaronovitch Broken Homes, Rivers of London Book 4, Ben Aaronovitch Foxglove Summer, Rivers of London Book 5, Ben Aaronovitch

As the series title suggests, Rivers of London is predominantly set in the capital of the UK. I love the opening line of book 2 in the series, Moon Over Soho: “It’s a sad fact of modern life that if you drive long enough, sooner or later you must leave London behind.” London itself is almost a character in the books, and to a degree the various rivers in London actually are.

Book Review: Midnight Riot, Rivers of London Book 1, Ben Aaronovitch

Book Review: Moon Over Soho, Rivers of London Book 2, Ben Aaronovitch

Book Review: Whispers Underground, Rivers of London Book 3, Ben Aaronovitch

Book Review: Broken Homes, Rivers of London Book 4, Ben Aaronovitch

Book Review: Foxglove Summer, Rivers of London Book 5, Ben Aaronovitch

 

 

European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman, Theodora Goss

The Swimmer, Joakim Zander

Staying in Europe for awhile, we’ve reviewed a thriller and a fantasy that take their heroines on journeys around the continent. European Travels for the Monstrous Gentlewoman (the fantasy) goes from London to the continent, hitting Vienna among other locations, while The Swimmer (the thriller) spends much of its time in Sweden but also visits Brussels and some other places.

Book Review: European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman, Theodora Goss

Book Review: The Swimmer, Joakim Zander

 

Tulipomania: The Story of the World's Most Coveted Flower & the Extraordinary Passions It Aroused, Mike Dash

Finally in Europe, the non-fiction Tulipomania tells about the tulip craze that bankrupted some afficianadoes in Amsterdam and other cities of the Netherlands. Fortunately we’re beyond such things now…or not.

Book Review: Tulipomania: The Story of the World’s Most Coveted Flower & the Extraordinary Passions It Aroused, Mike Dash

 

Akata Witch, Nnedi Okorafor Akata Warrior, Nnedi Okorafor

Moving south, Nnedi Okorafor’s brilliant series Akata Witch and Akata Warrior is set in a modern Nigeria that adds fantasy elements to the culture. The descriptions of Lagos and other parts of Nigeria have one foot set in reality and one foot set in fantasy, and it would be fun to visit and see which elements are recognizable from her vivid settings.

Book Review: Akata Witch, Nnedi Okorafor

Book Review: Akata Warrior, Nnedi Okorafor

 

Book Review: The End of Karma: Hope and Fury Among India’s Young, Somini Sengupta

Modern Indian young adults are the focus of Somini Sengupta’s non-fiction The End of Karma. India is a vibrant, growing country which will soon (if it is not already) be the most populous on earth. Knowing more about this country should be a priority for everyone.

Book Review: The End of Karma: Hope and Fury Among India’s Young, Somini Sengupta

 

Music of the Ghosts, Vaddey Ratner In the Shadow of the Banyan, Vaddey Ratner

The Night Tiger, Yangsze Choo

Southeast Asia is our final stop for our world tour, with the haunting story of the Khmer Rouge revolution In the Shadow of the Banyan (and the also mesmerizing story from a more modern Cambodia Music of the Ghosts by the same author). Vaddey Ratner’s books about Cambodia evoke a strong sense of place, including the feel of the air and the smell of the flowers. And although it is set decades ago, The Night Tiger brings Malaysia to life in its wonderful pages.

Book Review: Music of the Ghosts, Vaddey Ratner

Book Review: In the Shadow of the Banyan, Vaddey Ratner

Book Review: The Night Tiger, Yangsze Choo

 

 

Where in the world have you traveled through books? What would you recommend to someone who wants to see another country through the pages of a favorite novel? Give us your recommendations in the comments, or on Twitter @scintilla_info.

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go." — Dr. Seuss

World Tour Booklist: Reading Around the World

Booklist:  10 Books for a Reading Roadtrip Across America

Booklist:  10 Books for a Reading Roadtrip Across America

 

Scintilla.info has been proudly international from the beginning, intentionally seeking books and authors from around the world. But we are based in the United States. Given that our country celebrates her birthday on July 4th, we decided to highlight some books that we have reviewed that are American in focus. 

 

There There, Tommy Orange

Possibly the most powerful book we’ve read for Scintilla is There There by Tommy Orange. There are a lot of reasons to choose this book, but in this context our main reason is its setting. Oakland is almost an additional character within the book, a side of Oakland perhaps not obvious to tourists but rather one that locals would recognize. The characters and the powwow might be fictional, but the city is real and vibrant and essential to the story. Orange makes good use of the quote that inspired the title and shows that Oakland indeed has a there there.

 

Hellbent, Gregg Hurwitz Out of the Dark, Orphan X series, Book 4, Gregg Hurwitz

Moving down the coast, pick one of Greg Hurwitz Orphan X books which are primarily set in Los Angeles. Although protagonist Evan Smoak does travel around the country, he is based in LA and much of the action takes place in the US’s second largest city. Using actual neighborhoods and streets gives the settings a strong realism. The only thing hotter than the summer temperatures is the story when Smoak goes into action.

 

The Library Book, Susan Orlean

And for some reality in your LA story, The Library Book by Susan Orlean tells the story of the LA library in a way that reads more like a novel than a history. The people and the city that the library serves are well represented, as are the characters who came to lead the library throughout its history. A fun and enlightening read.

 

Long Road to Mercy, David Baldacci

Although many of David Baldacci’s books are set in Washington, DC, his recent book A Long Road to Mercy puts FBI agent Atlee Pine into a small town near the Four Corners region of Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. The landscapes and distances are almost characters themselves in this novel with a kickass heroine and a typically complex Baldacci plot.

 

Salvage the Bones, Jesmyn Ward Sing, Unburied, Sing, Jesmyn Ward

Mississippi is the setting for both of Jesmyn Ward’s National Book Award winning novels: Salvage the Bones and Sing, Unburied, Sing. Her evocation of the heat and humidity can make you sweat on a winter’s day in Pennsylvania, and I say this from personal experience.

 

Florida, Lauren Groff

Florida by Lauren Groff takes us across the country to our 27th state, the southernmost of the 48 contiguous states. Filled with unique characters and individual stories, the state figures into every story of this book that bears its name.

 

The Tenth Justice, Brad Meltzer The Hellfire Club, Jake Tapper

Brad Meltzer’s first novel, The Tenth Justice, and Jake Tapper’s novel The Hellfire Club are both set in Washington, DC, roughly 50 years apart. Both are thrillers with intrigue, political skulduggery, and real and potential violence. If you want to escape the current political news cycle, these are two options that keep you in the Beltway without once mentioning any actual living politicians.

 

Invisible, Stephen L. Carter

And finally, NYC is home to millions of people and almost as many stories, but Invisible by Stephen L. Carter is a true story of his grandmother and her battles against the mob in the 1930s. A lawyer under the famed Thomas Dewey, Carter’s grandmother tackled prejudice and gangsters using her intellect and the law.

 

Obviously there is a lot more country we could have visited…so let us know if you enjoyed this brief tour and maybe we will travel to some more places next July!

 

Booklist:  10 Books for a Reading Roadtrip Across America

Quote: Neil Gaiman on Books and Reading

Quote: Neil Gaiman on Books and Reading

The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is...to show them that reading is a pleasureable activity. and that means finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them. Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman quote on books and reading:

“The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is…to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them.”

— Neil Gaiman

Also see

Booklist about Books for Shared Reading with Children

Booklist: LOL Books to Laugh Out Loud with Your Children

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