Booking around the world (Weekly Geeks 2009-26)

This week’s Weekly Geeks question was posed by Terri:
– via books, of course, whether written about a country or by a native or resident of the country!

Are you a global reader? How many countries have you “visited” in your reading? What are your favorite places or cultures to read about? Can you recommend particularly good books about certain regions, countries or continents? How do you find out about books from other countries? What countries would you like to read that you haven’t yet?

Although many authors write about their native countries, I don’t always know that bit of biography when I choose a book to read, so I considered where a book takes place rather than where its writer came from in answering this question. I’m not surprised to see this, but I am mildly embarrassed to report it – I’m not particularly well-traveled. I checked off only 48 countries on the list used to produce this map:
Some of my favorite places to visit in books aren’t reflected on the map, though, because they’re not quite real. Harry Potter’s United Kingdom isn’t the everyday version, for example. I tend to prefer fantasy that takes place somewhere that’s not completely unfamiliar.
As for the real world, it’s really not that I’m not interested in other countries and cultures! However, I tend to be drawn to stories that I think I’ll be able to relate to, and it seems that many of those stories are by English-speaking authors and take place in the US, Canada, or western Europe. I feel like such a politically-incorrect elitist now that I’m confronted with the evidence, but at this point in my reading life, it looks like I’m a mostly- (not quite all-)American girl. And in my real-life travels, it’s much the same; I’ve been to quite a few of the fifty states, but my only trips outside my home country have been to Canada and the eastern Caribbean (including the U.S. Virgin Islands, which I’m not sure about counting separately).
Having said that, though, I enjoy reading travel memoirs set almost anywhere – again, as long as the story grabs me. As for fiction, I have long been intrigued by novels set in pre-Communist China and modern Europe – but don’t forget, there’s certainly enough variety of regions and cultures in the good ol’ U.S. of A. to keep a reader exploring on the home front for years.
Where in the world have you been – and where would you like to go?

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  1. I love this question, and this is actually going to be part of a new blog post I am about to start working on. I love to read fiction and non-fiction from around the world, I think it offers such a great perspective.

    I actually just got back from travels in Eastern Europe, and before I went I read some Russian Lit (Crime & Punishment), somewhat recent fiction The Madonnas of Leningrad along with a non-fiction book on the cultural history of Russia. I also read The Reader, since it was set in Germany (another location in our travels), all as part of my pre-travel "to do" list.

    I also love to read about Asian countries and culture.

    On my too add list: more books on African and S. American countries.

  2. I am going to see if I can find the time to do the WG-assignment this week, as I think it is a great and fun one. I have been to many places, and of course I've read a lot of European books set in Europe. But for the past many years, I've read mostly books set in USA or Canada. I have wanted a long time now to check out some books set in Australia.

  3. Tam – I like preparing to travel by reading books about the place, too. Looking forward to your post!

    Louise – I hope you get to do this WG task. I'll be interested in reading about your travels!

    Wordlily – Thanks :-).

  4. Nice job on South America. 😀

    I've been trying to post about this all week, but I keep getting sidetracked by trying to think of all the books I've read so my map will have lots of red. :-/

  5. Jill (Softdrink) – It just looks like that because I've mainly hit the big countries :-). And I had to go through my LibraryThing listings to remember a lot of the books!

  6. I have much more respect for an politically incorrect and honest answer than not. Doing this assignment, I realize while I read a ton of multicultural lit, it's not necessarily all over the map. I read about far more race/ethnicities but the stories are set in the US and I learned, I've read nothing in South America.