World Tour Booklist: Reading Around the World
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.