One of the themes of the Monthly Motif Reading Challenge is to read a book set in a different country than your own, written by an author from another country than your own, or a book in which the characters travel. What books would you recommend for this challenge? Here are a few of our faves – set in each of the continents, or written by an author from that region.
Detective Galileo Series, Keigo Higashino
Only 3 of the 8 book series have been translated from Japanese into English (by Alexander O. Smith) – of which I’ve read 2 – The Devotion of Suspect X and Salvation of a Saint. The novels tell the narrative of Yukawa a nerdy physics professor who is called in to help solve mysterious cases by his friend Kusanagi, a police detective.
In both the books that have been put out so far, you know who committed the crime, but believe me when I tell you – that means nothing because the HOW of it is super hard to figure out.
❧ Tanya – Africa is the second largest continent of the 7 continents in the world. The largest city is Lagos in Nigeria, and this happens to be the setting for one of my favorite science fiction books.
Lagoon, Nnedi Okorafor
When a massive object crashes into the ocean off the coast of Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous and legendary city, three people wandering along Bar Beach (Adaora, the marine biologist- Anthony, the rapper famous throughout Africa- Agu, the troubled soldier) find themselves running a race against time to save the country they love and the world itself… from itself.
Everything I’ve read by Okorafor has been memorable – even if I didn’t always fall in love. But you will with this book, and the audiobook is an excellent way to hear the regional accents, dialect and proper pronunciation of places.
❧ Kim – The North American continent is the 3rd largest continent. It includes the countries of Canada, United States, Greenland, Mexico and the Latin American regions that serve as a connection between North and South America. My favorite detective series is set in Quebec, Canada.
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Series, Louise Penny
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montréal and yet a world away. Jane Neal, a long-time resident of Three Pines, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it’s a tragic hunting accident and nothing more but Gamache smells something foul.
There are 13 books in this series beginning with Still Life. The stories usually take place in the small, picturesque village of Three Pines. There are new characters and reoccurring characters in each book. Although, not necessary to read them in order, you’ll have a better sense of the characters personalities if you do.
❧ Tanya – The South American continent is the southern portion of the larger American continent and located in the southern hemisphere. This continent is the fourth largest of the 7 continents and is made up of twelve countries with Brazil being the largest in terms of both land mass and population. This is the region that I have read from the least – but one of the most moving books I’ve read comes from an author native to this region – and the country of Chile, Isabel Allende.
Island Beneath the Sea, Isabel Allende
When 20 year-old Toulouse Valmorain arrives on the island, Saint-Domingue, in 1770, it’s with powdered wigs in his baggage and dreams of financial success in his mind. But running his father’s plantation, Saint-Lazare, is neither glamorous nor easy. And Valmorain remains dependent on the services of his teenaged slave, Zarité – known as Tété. Tété is the daughter of an African mother she never knew and one of the white sailors who brought her into bondage.
It’s hard for me to read books about slavery because it’s heart-wrenching to see the story of people living through a REAL dystopia. Island Beneath the Sea was incredibly well written, with vivid details of life in Haiti at the time, and a well detailed history of the country interwoven throughout, including the revolts and revolution which led to Haiti being the first country to abolish slavery. There was so much thrown into this book, but Allende was so adept at crafting the story, that in no way did it seem like too much.
❧ Kim – Europe is home to about 11% of Earth’s population and is the second most densely populated continent. Europe also includes islands such as Iceland, Sicily, and the British Isles. The British Isles consist of the large island that is home to England, Scotland, and Wales, and is called Great Britain. My pick is a book that is a few years old but still remains a favorite. When you finish this one, pick up the companion book- Rose Under Fire.
Code Name Verity, Elizabeth Wein
Oct. 11th, 1943 – A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.
Verity’s story unfolds in the form of her ‘confession’ to the Nazi’s which she writes on pieces of paper they give her. The story that unfolds in both heartwarming and unbelievable. It’s a story of best friends, war time bravery, and life as a tortured Nazi prisoner. A page turner for sure and I did not see the twist at the end coming.
Australia / Oceania
❧ Tanya – The continent of Australia includes the mainland of the country Australia and the island regions of New Guinea, Tasmania, and Seram. The country of Australia is the sixth largest country in the world by land mass – and Sydney, the capital is the setting for a book where the suspense almost killed me!
The Husband’s Secret, Liane Moriarty
Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives … what would you do?
I did NOT see the secret coming (although many people did) – but even if I thought I knew what it was, the secret was juicy and shattering – and just … OMG! This is a page turner that’s intense, clever, sad, and engaging.