Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Books I’d Give to Readers Who Want to Learn (a bit) about other Countries.
Each week, The Broke and the Bookish holds Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly booking meme. This week, we’re making book recommendation lists.
I’m from Britain and so my list is made up of books I loved because they gave me a small insight into the history, landscape and/or culture of another country.
Disclaimer – every ‘historical’ or ‘cultural’ event in the books is a good starting point for googling and not perfectly factual.
1) The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson
A mad, Forest Gump style adventure of the 100 year old man (Allan) from Sweden, who has been instrumental in every major event of the 20th Century. Such good fun and I learnt more about the Cold War.
2) The Medusa Amulet – Robert Masello
A fun quest through the ages to find the lost medusa amulet which holds the key to eternal life. This book may be a fun page turner but it made me really interested in the artist Cellini and the Medici’s in 16th Century Florence. It also made me want to visit Florence even more!
3) The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer
Even thinking about this book tugs at my heart. Written entirely in letters this book concerns the Nazi occupation of Guernsey in WWII, something I knew relatively little about. It’s a breath of fresh air, heart warming and uplifting – a story about ordinary heroes.
4) The Historian – Elizabeth Kostova
A book that interweaves history and myth in the search for Dracula. I will say this for Kostova, she puts up a convincing case for vampires actually existing. In this book I learnt a little more about Vlad the Impaler, Romania and the Eastern Bloc post WWII.
5) Graceland – Chris Abani
A story about a boy growing up in Lagos, Nigeria. Part hopeful and part harrowing. I couldn’t put it down. I’d never read anything set in that part of the world before and it was eye-opening.
6) The God of Small Things – Arundhati Roy
This book will stay with me forever. A look at Post Colonial India from the eyes of two-egg twins Rahel and Estha. An interesting look at the Caste system, language and the horrible effect of the British Empire.
7) The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Set in post war Barcelona, the book tells the coming of age story of Daniel, as he searches in to the life of an author of a mysterious book. A story about brutality, corruption, love and books. It was an interesting look on the way the war affected the class system in Barcelona. The description of Barcelona itself is also beautiful! Another place to add to the list!
8) The Book Thief – Marcus Zuask
A book about the effect the Nazis had within Germany on the ordinary German people. It was really interesting to read about WWII from a German perspective. Like the Guernsey Literary … this is a story about everyday heroes and the goodness of people.
9) Labyrinth – Kate Mosse
A story set in 21st Century and 12th Century Carcassonne in France. It’s a Holy Grail quest that beautifully describes the Languedoc region of France and the bloody crusade of the church against the Cathars. I didn’t know who the Cathars were before reading this book years ago and researching it for this blog has refreshed my memory. I want to go to Carcassonne too!
10) Evil Star – Anthony Horowitz
A supernatural young adults book, the second in the Power of Five Series, that takes the young chosen ones to Peru. A choice unlike the others and you learn little in the way of history or culture (although it is a rollicking read – Horowitz is amazing). I read this when I was 14 and ever since I have wanted to go to Peru! I want to fly over the Nazca Desert and climb the Inca Trail and see Machu Picchu, and this was the first place I really heard about it.
There you have it, a slice of history and geography from the world in ten books. What books have you learnt something about another place or time from? Where have books made you want to visit?