Top Ten Tuesday: Books Set Outside of the United States (By Continent)


top ten tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. The feature was created because The Broke and Bookish are particularly fond of lists (as are we!). Each week a new Top Ten list topic is given and bloggers can participate.

 Today’s Topic: Books Set Outside of the United States

We decided to add a bit of a twist. We are sharing our favorites from five continents. We opted to exclude North America (to go a bit farther from the United States) and Antarctica (because options are limited).


1. and 2. Asia


Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick

never fall down

I recommend this book all of the time. It is a the harrowing true story of Arn Chorn-Pond. I learned a lot while reading it, and it inspired me to learn more about the Cambodian genocide. If you missed this book, I recommend you read it immediately!


Sold by Patricia McCormick


Sold is about a young girl from rural Nepal who is sold into prostitution. Told in vignettes, this novel is harrowing and heartbreaking yet beautifully written. It was a coincidence that Ricki and I both chose a McCormick book, but that just shows how well she highlights the hardships of those living in this region.

3. and 4. South America


Queen of Water by Laura Resau

queen of water

When Laura Resau met Maria Virginia Farinango in Ecuador, two strong women collided to create this beautiful novel. Based on Virginia’s actual experiences, this is the story of many marginalized young women in Ecuador. I love the way Resau writes, and this story is just as beautiful as all of her others.


Caminar by Skila Brown


Set during Guatemala’s civil war in 1981, this novel-in-verse tells the story of a boy who has lost everything and must decide how he is going to live now with war surrounding him.

5. and 6. Europe


Just One Day by Gayle Forman

just one day

Gayle Forman’s writing is always magical. I considered many books set on this continent, but I chose this one because the characters adventure to many countries throughout Europe. More than any other book set in Europe, this made me want to drop everything and travel the continent.


The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

war that saved

This book fascinated me because it is a World War II story with WWII playing only a minor role in most of the book. It is mostly about Ada and Jamie and their journey to survive first in filthy conditions with an abusive parent then with Susan Smith, a lady forced to take care of them when they go to the suburbs to escape the war. The characters of this book with all their complexities, histories, heartbreaks, and triumphs will make any reader a fan.

7. and 8. Australia


Stolen: A Letter to My Captor by Lucy Christopher


Well, I didn’t realize that I have a mild obsession for books set in Australia. Apparently, I have read many books for this category. I chose this book because it gripped me from the beginning to the end. I love when students read this book because they always want to discuss it immediately after they finish. This is a book that engages readers from the very first page. Plus, it is set in the Australian Outback, which is neat!


Life In Outer Space by Melissa Keil

life in outer space

Opposite of Ricki, I had a very hard time finding a book set in Australia (I guess it is a book gap). Then I realized one of my favorite books is set there! Life In Outer Space is an under-rated contemporary nerd love story filled with true people, love for things like music and writing, and a ton of humor.

9. and 10. Africa


Endangered by Elliot Schrefer


I love reading books set in Africa. I read about ten a year and am very glad the publishing industry highlights this continent often. While I could put dozens of great books on this list (maybe this is a future TTT category for Kellee and me!), in the end, it would always be Endangered as my final choice. This is a magnificent book that everyone should read. It is incredibly teachable and offers so many themes, ideas, and background that makes for rich classroom discussions.


Diamond Boy by Michael Williams

diamond boy

While it was hard for me to not also pick a Schrefer book, I decided to pick a book that I feel should receive more attention than it does. I loved Williams’s Now is the Time for Running, so I was so happy to see that he had written a companion and that it explained one of the interesting secondary characters from Running.  I was blown away by the characterization within this book. Although the plot is what propelled the story, the characters in this book are what made it.  I also love the thinking that this book would cause. This book is at the same time easy to connect with, but also so completely different than anything most of the readers will have experienced. Quite unique.


Which are your favorite books set outside of the United States?

RickiSig and Signature

17 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Books Set Outside of the United States (By Continent)”

  1. Wow, what a wonderful list. I’ve read Sold, all the Eliot Schrefer books, and The War That Saved My Life, but the others are all new-more to look for! Thanks Ricki & Kellee!


Leave a Comment