Top Ten Tuesday: Books Set Outside of the U.S.

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week I will make a list of 10 books, authors or other bookish things surrounding a certain topic. This week is all about the books you’ve loved, that aren’t set in the U.S. So many books are set in the US! I think the only genre with the majority of books set elsewhere is historical fiction!

Mars // The Martian by Andy Weir // Okay so this is partly set in the U.S. but most of the story plays out on Mars. I don’t think you can get much farther from the US than Mars. This book is hilarious, despite the seriousness of the topic. 

Synopsis The Martian:  Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate the planet while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded on Mars’ surface, completely alone, with no way to signal Earth that he’s alive. And even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone years before a rescue could arrive. 

Scotland // Outlander (Outlander #1) by Diana Gabaldon // This is a historical fiction romance in the Highlands! Who could ask for more?

Synopsis Outlander: The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord . . . 1743.

Germany // The Book Thief by Markus Zusak // An all-time favorite, showing the life of a child in Germany during WWII. 

Synopsis The Book Thief: Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau.

The Vatican + Rome // Angels and Demons (Robert Langdon #1) by Dan Brown // This isn’t my favorite one of the series, but I figured I’d put the first in the series on the list. All of these books are set in places like Rome, Florence, and so on. 

Synopsis Angels and Demons:  When world-renowned Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned to a Swiss research facility to analyze a mysterious symbol—seared into the chest of a murdered physicist—he discovers evidence of the unimaginable: the resurgence of an ancient secret brotherhood known as the Illuminati … the most powerful underground organization ever to walk the earth. The Illuminati has now surfaced to carry out the final phase of its legendary vendetta against its most hated enemy—the Catholic Church. Langdon’s worst fears are confirmed on the eve of the holy conclave, when a messenger of the Illuminati announces they have hidden an unstoppable time bomb at the very heart of Vatican City. With the countdown under way, Langdon jets to Rome to join forces with Vittoria Vetra, a beautiful and mysterious Italian scientist, to assist the Vatican in a desperate bid for survival.

Carriveau + Paris, France // The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah // This is one of my favorite historical fiction reads. It’s set in France during WWII and chronicles the life of 2 very different sisters.

Synopsis The Nightingale:  FRANCE, 1939 In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France…but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When France is overrun, Vianne is forced to take an enemy into her house, and suddenly her every move is watched; her life and her child’s life is at constant risk. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates around her, she must make one terrible choice after another. Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth.

London + Oxford // The Bone Season (Bone Season #1) by Samantha Shannon // I read this one quite recently, and I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, it’s technically a futuristic London BUT WHO CARES.

Synopsis the Bone Season:  The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing. It is raining the day her life changes for ever.

UK // Me Before You by Jojo Moyes // A touching and inspiring contemporary book! This is so beautiful, and I do feel like you can see those British (or more specifically English I think) notes in the writing. 

Synopsis Me Before You:  Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick. What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane. Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that. What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

China // The Moon in the Palace (Empress of Bright Moon #1) by Weina Dai Randel // A very recent read, yet I’ve already mentioned it quite a few times on my blog. I really enjoyed this character-driven book set in China.

Synopsis The Moon in the Palace:  A concubine at the palace learns quickly that there are many ways to capture the Emperor’s attention. Many paint their faces white and style their hair attractively, hoping to lure in the One Above All with their beauty. Some present him with fantastic gifts, such as jade pendants and scrolls of calligraphy, while others rely on their knowledge of seduction to draw his interest. But young Mei knows nothing of these womanly arts, yet she will give the Emperor a gift he can never forget.

Germany // Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys // I really loved this historical fiction novel about a maritime tragedy during the WWII which seems to have been forgotten by the world. 

Synopsis Salt to the Sea:  It’s early 1945 and a group of people trek across Germany, bound together by their desperation to reach the ship that can take them away from the war-ravaged land. Four young people, each haunted by their own dark secret, narrate their unforgettable stories. Fans of The Book Thief or Helen Dunmore’s The Siege will be totally absorbed.

Barcelona, Spain // The Shadow of the Wind (Cemetary of Forgotten Books #1) by Carlos Ruiz Zafón // I read this quite a while ago, yet I still remember the moments I spent reading it.  It was such a different yet captivating read. I actually recommended it to my English professor during my oral exam at university.

Synopsis The Shadow of the Wind:  Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.

Those are my picks for this week’s topic! Have you read any of these? Which books set outside the US would you recommend? I’d actually like to read more books set in Italy! If you have any recommendations, always appreciated! 


24 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Books Set Outside of the U.S.

  1. Gah! I completely forgot about Scotland and Outlander! Excuse me while I go hide out under a rock and ask my lovely Fraser men to forgive me.

    Great list!


  2. I haven’t read The MArtian but I did finally see the movie, and though it was pretty good! And The Shadow of the Wind sounds really good.


  3. Great list! I thought I hadn’t read enough books set outside of the US, but I did read a few of the books on your list so I guess I didn’t do so bad after all 🙂 Would love to read The Bone Season soon!


  4. The Book Thief is an amazing choice. I’m not sure why I didn’t mention Me Before You, it being one of my favourite books of all time! What an oversight! 😀 Great list!


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