Bookish Listopia: 10 Stories from outside the united states

Stories from around the world. <3

Posted March 27, 2018 by Amber in Memes / 22 Comments


It’s so easy to fall into our own culture without looking outside ourselves and finding the places and the stories that exist outside out own continent.  I think movies like Black Panther are important in that way – praising the beauty of people rarely seen and reminding us that there’s a greater world outside our front door… and we are all one people.

Before I write any more of this post, I want to apologize for the whiteness of all these characters.  The beauty of writing an internationally inspired Top Ten is that we have the opportunity to showcase various cultures.  Looking at my own bookshelf, the novels I have with POC leads are based in the United States – mostly in the south.  I don’t have a single book based in Asia, Africa, or South America (that I could find) and that needs to change.

So I will present you with some of the internationally set books I have, with the knowledge and full admittance that I need to do better.


by Mary Shelly

Location: Switzerland and Germany

Mary Shelley began writing Frankenstein when she was only eighteen. At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering the cause of generation and life and bestowing animation upon lifeless matter, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but; upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature’s hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein.


Jurassic Park

by Michael Crichton

Location: Isla Nublar

An astonishing technique for recovering and cloning dinosaur DNA has been discovered. Now, one of mankind’s most thrilling fantasies has come true. Creatures extinct for eons now roam Jurassic Park with their awesome presence and profound mystery, and all the world can visit them — for a price.

Until something goes wrong…



Artemis Fowl

by Eoin Colfer

Location: Ireland

Who is Artemis Fowl? A genius. A criminal mastermind. A millionaire. And he is not twelve years old. Yet crafty as he is, Artemis may have met his match in Captain Holly Short, and elf from the LEPrecon Special Forces, when he plots to steal the richest treasure the world has ever known- the timeless treasure of the fairies!




The Phantom of the Opera

by Gaston Leroux

Location: France

Filled with the spectacle of the Paris Opera House in the nineteenth century, this classic work of mystery and suspense remains a riveting journey into the dark regions of the human heart. The tale begins as an investigation into the strange stories of an “opera ghost,” legendary for making the performers at this great Paris art emporium apprehensive when they sit alone in their dressing rooms or walk alone in the building’s labyrinthine corridors. Some even think they’ve seen the ghost in evening clothes moving in the shadows. But it isn’t until the triumphant performance of the Beautiful Christine Daaé that the Phantom of the Opera begins his attacks — striking terror in the hearts of everyone in the theater.



by Bram Stoker

Location:  United Kingdom, Romania, and Hungary

Jonathan Harker is travelling to Castle Dracula to see the Transylvanian noble, Count Dracula. He is begged by locals not to go there, because on the eve of St George’s Day, when the clock strikes midnight, all the evil things in the world will come full sway. But business must be done, so Jonathan makes his way to the Castle – and then his nightmare begins. His beloved wife Mina and other lost souls have fallen under the Count’s horrifying spell. Dracula must be destroyed . . .


Much Ado About Nothing

by William Shakespeare

Location: Italy

Much Ado About Nothing boasts one of Shakespeare’s most delightful heroines, most dancing wordplay, and the endearing spectacle of intellectual and social self-importance bested by the desire to love and be loved in return. It offers both the dancing wit of the “merry war” between the sexes, and a sobering vision of the costs of that combat for both men and women. Shakespeare dramatizes a social world in all of its vibrant particulars, in which characters are shaped by the relations between social convention and individual choice.



by Unknown

Location: Denmark and Sweden

Beowulf is the earliest extant poem in a modern European language. It was composed in England four centuries before the Norman Conquest. As a social document this great epic poem is invaluable- reflecting a feudal, newly Christian world of heroes and monsters, blood and victory, life and death. As a work of art it is quite unique; Beowulf rings with a beaut, power, and artistry that have kept it alive for more than twelve centuries.



The Red Tent

by Anita Diamant

Location: Israel, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Iran, Turkey

Her name is Dinah. In the Bible, her life is only hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the more familiar chapters of the Book of Genesis that tell of her father, Jacob, and his twelve sons.

Told in Dinah’s voice, Anita Diamant imagines the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood–the world of the red tent. It begins with the story of the mothers–Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah–the four wives of Jacob. They love Dinah and give her gifts that sustain her through childhood, a calling to midwifery, and a new home in a foreign land. Dinah’s story reaches out from a remarkable period of early history and creates an intimate connection with the past.


The Ring of Solomon

by Jonathan Stroud

Location:  Israel

It is 950 B.C.E., and King Solomon rules Jerusalem with a steely hand; a hand on which gleams a magic ring of immense and unforgiving power. Solomon has just begun work on his marvelous temple, charging Khaba, a formidable magician in his royal court, to oversee its construction. The workforce is an ill-behaved bunch of demons, a particularly unruly djinni named Bartimaeus among them. True to form, Bartimaeus promptly gets kicked off the temple project and assigned the even more miserable task of hunting bandits in the desert. There he crosses paths with Asmira, a highly skilled and loyal captain of the Queen of Sheba’s guard, on a suicidal mission to save her country from Solomon’s imminent attack. Of course, Bartimaeus has no intention of helping her. That is, until Asmira makes him an offer he cannot refuse. . .


The Rosie Project

by Graeme Simsion

Location: Australia

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don’s Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.


This week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt was:

Books That Take Place In Another Country


I actually had some difficulty locating books that were neither set in a fantasy world nor the United States.  Classics were the only reason I was able to get a full ten here… it was an eye opener, because I hadn’t realized how white-washed my non-fantasy was.  It’s good, though!  Because knowing is the first step to change.


Are any of your favorite books set outside your home country?

What is your favorite book setting?

Who is your favorite international author?

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22 responses to “Stories from around the world. <3

    • Amber

      Aw, really? I recommend all of them, but classics like Frankenstein and Dracula (while AMAZING) can be a little heavy, so you really have to be in the right mood. 🙂

    • Amber

      I LOVE Bartimaeus and really don’t think it’s gotten enough love (at least in the circles I run in). Everyone I’ve recommended it to has enjoyed it, but nobody seems to find it on their own! So glad you’re a fan!

  1. That’s great that this prompt helped you to see that you want to read more books with non-white characters. I know this is something I could do better with too. I do love books set outside of the U.S. though, so thanks for all these suggestions!


    • Amber

      I actually do have a lot of books with POC etc., but they’re mostly fantasy, or not set in different countries (i.e. The Help and The Secret Life of Bees). I do think I need to flesh out my settings and my diversity in authors, for sure. 🙂

    • Amber

      I think off the top of my head, the only contemporary I have with POC is Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda! I do have novels set in the United States with a bit more diversity, but I never really thought about the fact I don’t have anything set in… Ghana or Hong Kong, for example.

    • Amber

      I couldn’t agree more. Especially since travel was so much more difficult when this was written, Mary Shelley did such a fantastic job with her settings.

    • Amber

      I always forget how much I love Dracula until I reread it. 🙂 I admittedly went and stared at my bookshelf for this list and basically went, “Nope that’s US, nope that’s Narnia… AHA! Dracula is in the UK.”

    • Amber

      Me too! I think the series has fallen under the radar in recent times, but hopefully the movie next year will re-introduce it to the world!

  2. This list is AMAZING!!! SO MANY GOOD BOOKS!! The only one I don’t know is The Rosie Project and I’m super intrigued now! I’ll have to look it up ? And I love what you said in your intro. It’s all so true! And I’m guilty of lacking international books too, which became glaringly obvious when I was looking for books to put in my own list.

    Oh, and Black Panther was THE BEST! Love that gif!!

    Loretta @ The Laughing Listener recently posted: Top Ten Tuesday: World Travelers
    • Amber

      I wrote this post the night after seeing Black Panther and I was ALL ABOUT IT. I was so excited to find a GIF opening weekend – huzzah for trailers!

      The Rosie Project is REALLY good. I loved the audiobook in particular, it was read really well and matter-of-fact. It’s also *so* respectful of Asperger’s, even though it’s not #OwnVoices. Quick read, really fun. Great for a lazy weekend. 😀

    • Amber

      I am quite pleased I remembered that one! I think the only reason I did was because at the time I scheduled this post, Loretta (at Laughing Listener) was reading it! 😀

    • Amber

      I *adored* The Rosie Project! It’s so far out of my normal wheelhouse, so it was a pleasant surprise to discover it a few months ago!

  3. I need to read more books set in countries other than the UK or America, too. Out of your list I’ve read Frankenstein, Jurassic Park and Much Ado. I’ve read a few fantasies set in other countries, such as Daughter of Smoke and Bone and 1001 Nights and a few classics like The Color Purple, but I don’t have nearly as many as I’d like. I’d like to read more fiction set in Africa and India.

    • Amber

      India! I hadn’t even thought of that… I was thinking about Africa, though. Between Children of Blood and Bone and Black Panther, I need more Africa in my life. I think the Caribbean would be great, too.