Long list alert!

I was bitten by the travel bug in my second year of university when I decided to live and volunteer in Shanghai with a friend instead of opting for a more traditional internship. Since then, I have travelled whenever I can, for as long as I can to wherever I can…alone, with friends, with family, or in various combinations of all of the three.

Whenever I am planning a trip to somewhere new, I always try to hunt out prolific local authors or books related to my destination because I find it adds more depth to my travel experiences and understanding of where I’ve been (or plan to go).

There are many times however, when travel isn’t an option and I have to stay put, which is where books provide a much longed for escape. The below list isn’t comprised of travel books per se, rather the books that have given me insights into minds and cultures far removed from my own hence expanding my personal world view. I’ve sorted them alphabetically by country, and I haven’t been to all of the countries highlighted yet….but definitely one day! There are certain countries and regions that have always held a fascination for me and where there is so much diversity in soul and character that it’s difficult to capture in just one book so you may find 2, 3 or even 4 choices.

I’ve only visited around 50 countries so far, but books take me to so many more. I started cobbling together this list a while ago (and there are some ‘places’ rather than countries), but I want it to be dynamic and I’d love to hear your suggestions for either countries not mentioned, or other options for countries I have mentioned!

  • Afghanistan – The Kite Runner & A Thousand Splendid Suns (Khaled Hosseini)
  • Argentina – The Motorcycle Diaries (Che Guevara)
  • Armenia – Skylark Farm (Antonia Arslan)
  • Australia – The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough); True History of the Kelly Gang (Peter Carey)
  • Bangladesh – A Golden Age (Tahmima Anam)
  • Bhutan – Treasures of the Thunder Dragon ( Ashi Dori Wangmo Wangchuk)
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina – The Rose of Sarajevo (Ayse Kulin)
  • Botswana – The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency (Alexander McCall Smith)
  • Brazil – State of Wonder (Ann Patchett)
  • Cambodia – First They Killed My Father (Loung Ung)
  • Canada – Alias Grace (Margaret Atwood)
  • Chile – The House of the Spirits (Isabel Allende)
  • China – Wild Swans (Jung Chang); Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
  • Colombia – One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
  • Cuba – Waiting for Snow in Havana (Carlos Eire)
  • Czech Republic – The Lost Wife (Alyson Richman)
  • Democratic Republic of Congo The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver); Heart of Darkness (Joseph Conrad)
  • Dominican Republic – In the Time of the Butterflies (Julia Alvarez); The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Junot Diaz); The Feast of the Goat (Mario Vargas Llosa)
  • Egypt – The Map of Love (Adhaf Soueif)
  • England – A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens); Londoners: The Days and Nights of London Now (Craig Taylor); Watching the English (Kate Fox)
  • Eritrea – Black Mamba Boy (Nadifa Mohamed)
  • Ethiopia – Cutting for Stone (Abraham Verghese)
  • France – The Elegance of the Hedgehog (Muriel Barbery); Les Miserables (Victor Hugo)
  • Germany – All Quiet on the Western Front (Erich Maria Remarque)
  • Ghana – Ghana Must Go (Taiye Selasi); Ama (Manu Herbstein); Homegoing (Yaa Gyasi)
  • Greece – The Murderess (Alexandros Papadiamantis)
  • Hungary – My Happy Days in Hell (Gyorgy Faludy)
  • Iceland – Independent People (Halldor Laxness)
  • India – Behind the Beautiful Forevers (Katherine Boo); A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry); A Suitable Boy (Vikram Seth)
  • Iran – Reading Lolita in Tehran (Azar Nafisi)
  • Ireland – Ulysses (James Joyce)
  • Israel – The Lemon Tree (Sandy Tolan)
  • Italy – The Neapolitan Novels (Elena Ferrante)
  • Jamaica – A Brief History of Seven Killings (Marlon James)
  • Jerusalem – Jerusalem: The Biography (Simon Sebag Montefiore)
  • Japan – Kafka on the Shore (Haruki Murakami)
  • Jordan – Leap of Faith (Queen Noor)
  • Kenya – Dust (Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor); Out of Africa (Karen Blixen); It’s Our Turn to Eat (Michela Wrong)
  • Malaysia – The Gift of Rain (Tan Twan Eng)
  • Mexico – The Devil’s Highway (Luis Alberto Urrea)
  • Myanmar – The Glass Palace (Amitav Ghosh); Letters from Burma (Aung San Suu Kyi); Burmese Days (George Orwell)
  • Nepal – Little Princes (Conor Grennan)
  • Netherlands – The Diary of a Young Girl (Anne Frank)
  • New Zealand – The Luminaries (Eleanor Catton)
  • Nigeria – Things Fall Apart (Chinua Achebe) ; Half of a Yellow Sun (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie); The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives (Lola Shoneyin)
  • Pakistan – Midnight’s Children (Salman Rushdie)
  • Peru – The Time of the Hero (Mario Vargas Llosa)
  • Poland – Lilac Girls (Martha Hall Kelly)
  • Russia – War and Peace (Leo Tolstoy); City of Thieves (David Benioff)
  • Rwanda – We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed with our Families (Philip Gourevitch); Land of a Thousand Hills (Rosamond Halsey Carr)
  • Saudi Arabia – Princess (Jean P. Sasson)
  • Scotland – The Bride of Lammermoor (Walter Scott)
  • Sierra Leone – A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (Ishmael Beah)
  • Singapore – A Fortune Teller Told Me (Tiziano Terzani)
  • Somalia – Infidel (Ayaan Hirsi Ali)
  • South Africa – A Long Walk to Freedom (Nelson Mandela); Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood (Trevor Noah)
  • South Korea – The Vegetarian (Han Kang)
  • Spain – The Sun Also Rises (Ernest Hemingway); The Shadow of the Wind (Carlos Ruiz Zafon)
  • Sudan – Acts of Faith (Philip Caputo)
  • Sweden – The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared (Jonas Jonasson)
  • Switzerland – Hotel du Lac (Anita Brookner)
  • Tanzania – Speak Swahili, Dammit! (James Penhaligon)
  • Thailand – Sightseeing (Rattawut Lapcharoensap)
  • Turkey – Istanbul & Museum of Innocence (Orhan Pamuk)
  • Uganda – A Good African Story: How a Small Company Built a Global Coffee Brand (Andrew Rugasira); Kintu (Jennifer Makumbi)
  • USA – East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
  • Vietnam – So Happiness to Meet You (Karin Esterhammer); Sorrows of War (Bao Ninh)
  • Zambia – Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight (Alexandra Fuller)
  • Zimbabwe – We Need New Names (NoViolet Bulawayo)

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About LookyBooky

I'm a compulsive reader always in search of new adventures. I love learning through travel and seeing the world through my camera lens. The books are ALWAYS better than the movies. I enjoy nothing more than a good book argument so feel free to disagree with me - it might lead to a fun conversation!

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Books, Lists, Travel


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