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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Travel the World

One of the principle reasons I read is to learn about the world: I’m a curious person, and good books are miniature substitutes for experiences, because in one lifetime I cannot hope to learn and experience everything firsthand – and it’s impossible, too, because I’d never have an inkling of what it’s like to be, for example, an American pioneer in the West in the 1870s without reading Little House on the Prairie.

So when I decide on my reading list, many books I place there teach me something about other countries, other time periods, other kinds of people. I’ve even made a list I call “Book Geography” so I can keep track of the places I’ve visited by reading. I’ve even thought it’d be fun to label a map with book titles…but that’d be a daunting a task!

Here’s a glimpse of my list, showcasing some of the best, most evocative-of-place books I’ve read:

The U.S.A.
Alabama - To Kill a Mockingbird
Alaska - The Call of the Wild; White Fang
Illinois - So Big; Across Five Aprils
              Chicago - Twenty Years at Hull House
Indiana - Freckles; A Girl of the Limberlost
Kansas - Little House on the Prairie
Maine - Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm
Massachusetts - The Scarlet Letter; Little Women
               Boston - Johnny Tremain; A Different Kind of Courage Minnesota - On the Banks of Plum Creek
Missouri - The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
                The Ozarks - The Rose Years
Nebraska - My Antonia
New York - Farmer Boy; The Last of the Mohicans
                 New York City - The Chosen; All-of-a-Kind Family
Pennsylvania - Julie; I Am Regina
South Dakota - The Little House series, from By the Shores of Silver Lake to The First Four Years
Tennessee - Christy
Texas - Old Yeller; Wildwood Creek; Half Broke Horses
Virginia - Wish You Well; The Serpent Never Sleeps
Wisconsin - Little House in the Big Woods

Prince Edward Island - Anne of Green Gables series; Emily of New Moon series; The Blue Castle
Alberta - Loves Comes Softly
Ontario - The Incredible Journey

The Caribbean
Captain Blood

By Right of Conquest

South America
Ecuador - His Voice Shakes the Wilderness

England - The Scent of Water; The Hound of the Baskervilles; Lark Rise to Candleford; Our Village; Watership Down; Cranford; North and South; Wuthering Heights; All Creatures Great and Small; Jane Eyre; The Perilous Gard; The Secret Garden; The Pickwick Papers; My Love Affair with England; Notes from a Small Island
Scotland - Kidnapped; The Baronet’s Song; The Shepherd’s Castle; The Martha Years

The English Channel Islands - Green Dolphin Country
Austria - Mozart’s Sister 

France - The Count of Monte Cristo; A Tale of Two Cities; The Hunchback of Notre-Dame; Les Miserables
Ireland - In the Company of Others 

The Netherlands - The Winged Watchman
Romania - The Seamstress
Spain - Don Quixote
Switzerland - Heidi
Ukraine - Tevye’s Daughters
Ancient Rome - Beric the Briton

Israel - The Bronze Bow; The Zion Chronicles; Tongue of the Prophets; For the Temple
The Middle East - The Brethren; Shadow Spinner
China - The Good Earth (though I didn’t particularly like the book…)
India - Homeless Bird; A Passage to India (though I really didn’t like the book…)

Egypt - Mara, Daughter of the Nile; The Golden Goblet; Joseph Kenya - Out of Africa; Nine Faces of Kenya
Uganda - Kisses from Katie

New Zealand - Green Dolphin Country

The Sea
Moby-Dick; Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

All Over
Around the World in Eighty Days; The Innocents Abroad; The Art of Travel (Alain de Botton); The Bright Empires series

As you can see, I have wide gaps in my armchair travels! (Though since I’ve only included about half the books on my list, the best of the best, there are different places I’ve visited through less evocative books.) I plan to fill in some of the gaps eventually:
War and Peace; Anna Karenina; Angel on the Square (Russia)
Cry, the Beloved Country (South Africa)
Journey to the River Sea (Brazil)
The Good Master (Hungary)
The Enchanted April (Italy)
And more as I find them…

Your turn! What are some of the best, exotically placed books you’ve read, whether fiction or nonfiction? Do you have any suggestions for filling in my map?


  1. I'm currently reading A Tale of Two Cities and All-of-a-kind family. So it's like I'm in New York,and France in addition to Cali :)
    Thanks for thus post! I may come back to it next time I'm looking for a book :)

    1. That's so cool, Eliza! It's interesting that those are both books on my list, too. :)
      I just finished reading Green Dolphin Country (Street), and I already miss Guernsey Island and New Zealand!
      Thank you for your comment! I hope this list will help you out. :)

  2. :O THIS IS SO COOL!!! I love this list and this whole idea... makes me want to peruse my own shelves and see where they take place! *adds to list of bookish things to do soon* I guess I read a lot in fictional worlds, but still. ;) It's so amazing you've read all these different places. How long have you been keeping this list? It's awesome! :) Do you sometimes look for books set in different places you haven't read about yet? It's fun when reading different books by different authors and yet they "feel" similar because they're set in the same place -- makes one think that maybe they researched it well or went there, to get the right feel! (I know Revolutionary War Boston felt the same to me in A Different Kind of Courage and in Leonard Wibberly's Treegate series; that was cool. And I've read a few books set in Wales and the setting "felt" similar, so I feel like I've been to Wales even though I haven't!) So sometimes it's fun to read more than one book in the same setting to see if it feels the same. :) ...That got long and rambly. Anyways! Love this post, thanks for sharing your list! I may have to make one myself sometime. ^_^

    1. Thank you, Deborah! I'm so glad this inspired you to do something like it yourself. I'd love to see your list once you make it! :) I made mine last year by pulling the titles from my general book list. I do sometimes look for books to read about different places just because I want to know about that place. I'd like to do more of that!
      I know what you mean about a place having the same feel, even in books by different authors. That means they've done their writing well!!
      Thanks for your comment!

  3. Oh! And The Good Master is an amazing book! I hope you like it! :) (I really need to read the rest of the Bright Empires books! o.o The first one was amazing...)

    1. I really want to read it this year! I've waited long enough!
      And yes---you must finish the Bright Empires series. You must see it to the end to experience all of its amazing-ness. :)