Top Ten Books Set Outside the US

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week’s topic is Books Set Outside the US. I excluded fantasy novels, because I felt like they missed the point of the novel. (Though a few of the books on my list have fantasy elements, their setting is clearly a real place.)

Making this list made me realize how few books I’ve read that are set outside the US (and not in some fantasy land). Most of these are historical novels…I had a really hard time finding contemporary books set in a different country. Any recommendations?

1. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (France)

cover anna and the french kiss

Cute and romantic, this book made me want to move to France (and find my own Étienne).

2. Die for Me by Amy Plum (France)

cover die for me

I read this paranormal novel years ago, and I loved everything about it: the creative paranormal elements, the romance, and of course, the setting.

3. Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein (Ethiopia)

cover black dove white raven

Black Dove, White Raven tells the heartbreaking but inspiring story of two children growing up in Ethiopia as Mussolini prepares to invade.

4. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (France)

cover code name verity bigger

This book will shatter you into a million pieces. Set in Nazi-occupied France during WWII, this story of a captured Scottish spy made me cry harder than I’ve ever cried in my life…but is also one of the most touching stories of friendship that you’ll ever read.

5. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory (Britain)

cover the other boleyn girl

I read this book a few years ago, and though it took me a while to get through, the story brought history to life in a compelling way. I can’t wait to read more of Gregory’s work.

6. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (an island somewhere)

cover beauty queens

Technically, I have no idea where this book is set, besides it’s on an island somewhere that isn’t America. However, this hilarious story of self-discovery and feminism doesn’t need GPS coordinates to make it amazing.

7. Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin (all across Europe)

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In Wolf by Wolf, the Axis Powers celebrate their victory in WWII with a motorcycle race across the continent. I loved the characters and the ending shocked me (and I need the next book).

8. The Walled City by Ryan Graudin (Hong Kong’s Walled City, loosely)

cover the walled city

I was horrified when I found out that Ryan Graudin had based the setting of this book on a real place. The pure suffering that she depicted made an amazing backdrop for this story, but it is heartbreaking to understand that it was reality for a lot of people.

9. The Philosopher’s Kiss by Peter Prange (France)

cover the philosophers kiss

Again, I read this book years ago, but the story has stayed with me. Set in 1747, The Philosopher’s Kiss tells the story of Denis Diderot and the writing of the Encyclopedia, a fascinating and tumultuous period in history.

10. All Fall Down by Ally Carter (Embassy Row, in the Mediterranean)

cover all fall down

Have I mentioned recently that Ally Carter is one of my favorite authors? If I haven’t, I should have, because her books have the perfect balance of levity and seriousness, and I turn to them whenever I need to laugh.


Apparently, I really only read books set in France. Has anyone else realized that?

What books are on your TTT? Have you read any of the books on my list?

18 thoughts on “Top Ten Books Set Outside the US

  1. Beauty Queens is on my list. Some other books from slightly more obscure countries to check out: They Poured Fire On Us From The Sky (Sudan), The Sex Lives of Cannibals (Vanuatu), and A Dictionary of Maqiao (Tibet/China). Don’t forgot to come over to my blog and say hey 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah! I’d completely forgotten that Amy Plum’s Die For Me series was set in Paris. It’s amazing when you sit down to write these lists and realise just how little diversity you’re really reading when it comes to settings! I think The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul is a good one for broadening horizons.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for sharing these books – I read The Other Boleyn Girl about 10 years ago and thought it was excellent, and well worth the time it took to read. I know Gregory has a bunch of books out – I would like to read another!

    Liked by 1 person

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