Travel the world in books to escape and learn about your bucket list destinations. Here are the books set in different countries that I want to visit.
Books Set in Spain
First up, Spain. I have been to Spain twice and we loved it so much. The food, the people, the way they slow down and make enjoying food, life and time together a priority.
We’ve been to Madrid, Sevilla and both the mountains, and the beaches of Spain, equally gorgeous and relaxing. It’s our goal to go to Spain again in the next year so it’s on my places to visit list. Here’s one of my photos on our trip to the Royal Palace of Madrid where I marveled at some of the first editions of Don Quixote they had on exhibit when we visited. They even had Don Quixote tapestries hanging in the palace. It was amazing! I wish I could find my pictures for you!
Here are some of the books set in Spain that I’ve read or are on my TBR (to be read) bookshelf.
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
Of course, Don Quixote is a book set in Spain that I need to read. They call Cervantes the “Shakespeare of Spain” and one of Spain’s most famous authors. It’s definitely qualifies for my big book summer challenge and is about the adventures of Don Quixote and his squire, Sancho Panza.
Shadow of the Wind (and the Cemetery of Forgotten Books series)
Shadow of the Wind is my favorite contemporary fiction of all time. I’ve read it twice in English (and I don’t normally reread books). On my second trip to Spain, I got the Spanish version and on my son’s recent trip to Spain, he got me the entire 4 book series in Spanish.
I was hypnotized by the Cemetery of Forgotten Books, mystified by what really happened to Julian Carax, and captivated by Zafon’s writing. This book was amazing enough in it’s English translation, I can only imagine how remarkable it would be if I could read Spanish.
This book is a combination of gothic thriller, mystery and romance. Yet a book lover’s delight the way he talks about writing and books!
The Angel’s Game is book 2 in the series so it’s my goal to read it this summer for the big book summer reading challenge I’m doing.
The Queen’s Vow and The Last Queen, both by C.W. Gortner
I read Mademoiselle Chanel by C.W. Gortner and it was a 5 star historical fiction for me. So I promptly put Gortner’s other historical fiction on my list to read.
I love how he brought the incomparable Coco Chanel to life, told the story of how she broke the glass ceiling and shaped the fashion industry today. He really piqued my curiosity about how much of the tale he told was true and he weaved history and fiction so seamlessly that it kept me riveted and curious.
He writes about strong women in history and I love reading their stories. So here’s the Spanish queens he wrote about that I’d like to read about…
So The Queen’s Vow is about Queen Isabella’s life and rise to power and her infamy as the queen who sent Christopher Colombus on his voyage. Her story (at least the blurbs I’ve read) sound like Isabella leads a dangerous and exciting life as she earns her title and marries Ferdinand, her forbidden love.
The Last Queen is about Juana of Castile, daughter of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella and the last queen of Spanish blood to sit on the throne. She rises to power unexpectedly which tests the strength of her marriage as she risks it all to save Spain from devastation.
Summer Flings and Dancing Dreams by Sue Watson
Here’s a fun chick lit/rom-com/women’s fiction for you that takes you to Spain. In Summer Flings and Dancing Dreams, Laura is a single mom with a grown daughter. After years of putting her daughter first, she starts doing things for herself. An innocent enough Zumba class turns into an adventure with a passionate dance instructor, and a trip to Spain to learn flamenco.
This one is on my Kindle but I have not read it yet. I’ve read several of author Sue Watson’s books and they are fun, entertaining, laugh out loud books. They definitely cheer me up and make me laugh. You’ll see her make another appearance when we get to books set in Greece.
Books Set in India
My family is from India, so even though I was born in the USA, India always has a special place in my heart. I have been to India twice, but only once that I remember as a teenager. I haven’t been back since but I would love to visit again.
India is a beautiful country of both gorgeous opulence and heartbreaking poverty, clashing amongst each other in the same tight, crowded space. I would have loved to explore more of India and see the Taj Mahal in person!
I’ve read many books set in India from my travel the world in books reading challenge and wrote all about my favorite books set in India here.
Some other books set in India on my TBR Bookshelf that I still want to read:
The Space Between Us and the Secrets Between Us by Thrity Umrigar
I love all the books I’ve read by Thrity Umrigar, both fiction and her autobiography. Her books are character driven novels focused on the relationships between Indian woman and their loves, passions, struggles and triumphs.
The Space Between Us is about the relationship between an upper middle class wife and her female servant, Bhima. This one is on my bookshelf but I didn’t realize that a sequel, The Secrets Between Us, came out that is focused on Bhima’s story after the first book ends.
Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
Unaccustomed Earth is on my bookshelf and is a set of short stories, one of which takes place in India. I enjoy short story collections and don’t read them enough but should, especially when I have trouble concentrating.
The Hundred Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais
The Hundred Foot Journey is centered around food, which I love to eat as much as I love to read! I started reading this book and with an Indian mother who is the best cook on the planet (of all kinds of cuisine but especially Indian food), this book made me hungry within the first few pages! (I had to stop reading because it made me miss her so badly and it was before I could see her safely). So now that I was able to visit her and enjoy her food, I need to get back to it…
In this book, Hassan is the grandson of a restaurant owner in Mumbai. They are forced to leave India and bring their delicacies to a small village in France. Oh, I can only imagine the reaction of the French villagers to the aromatic spices in Indian cooking! The battle between French and Indian cuisines. It sounds like a feast I’d enjoy!
The Golden Son by Shilpi Somaya Gowda
The Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda is the book that turned me into a book lover as an adult. This is not a book for the faint of heart. It took every ounce of strength to not cry over the stories of the two moms in this international adoption story, the American mom desperately wanting a baby and her bouts with infertility and the Indian mom yearning to give her daughter a good life and missing her every day.
Anyway, Gowda came out with another book called The Golden Son. Anil is from a small Indian village and the first of his family to go to college. He is the “golden son” and leaves to do his medical residency in the USA. When his father dies, he becomes the head of the household and has to take on tradition and his duty from afar while adjusting to his new life and culture. Leena, his closest childhood friend, faces her own struggles back in India with her new husband and in laws.
Books Set in Greece
Greece and more specifically, the Greek Islands, are on my bucket list. I told you how much I love food, well Greek food is some of my favorite, paired with my love of Greek mythology and those breathtaking beaches and sparkling blue water, and Greece is on the top of the places I’d love to visit that I have not been to yet. Yep, I just want to stare at this sunset…
Love, Lies and Lemon Cake by Sue Watson
Here’s author Sue Watson making another appearance and this time, Love, Lies and Lemon Cake takes place on the gorgeous Santorini in the Greek islands. I really felt like I was there as Faye wakes up in Santorini and walks through her little villa. It’s a rom com/chick lit but again entertaining and a bit over the top in a funny way.
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
This is a highly hyped book in the book community but I haven’t read it yet. The Song of Achilles is the story of Achilles, the son of a sea goddess and a King and an exiled prince Patroclus. I look forward to reading it! Tell me if you have!
Circe by Madeline Miller
Another interpretation/retelling of a Greek mythology story this time centered around Circe, goddess and enchantress who tangled with the hero, Odysseus. In this book, Circe’s story is told in the first person so we hear her thoughts and feelings as she draws attention from villains and monsters, gods and goddesses.
One Last Greek Summer and My Greek Island Summer both by Mandy Baggott
Author Mandy Baggott writes rom-com/chick lit/womens fiction and often times it’s set in Corfu, one of the Greek islands. I follow her on Facebook and she often talks about her trips there, in fact I just saw a post that she landed in Greece today. I haven’t read any of her books yet but any job that takes you to Corfu for research would be my dream job! I look forward to trying out One Last Greek Summer and My Greek Island Summer.
Books Set in Italy
Another bucket list destination, specifically the Italian coast and Tuscany. Food, beautiful scenery, what’s not to love about Italy?
Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters
Beautiful Ruins has been on my TBR shelf for awhile and the cover is just so pretty. An “almost love affair” starts at the Italian coast in the 1960s and crosses the ocean and spans a lifetime as the story travels to Hollywood, Seattle and Scotland. I really enjoy books about Hollywood and behind the movies scenes. I think it’s part historical fiction and part romance and I look forward to reading it.
Under the Tuscan Sun and Bella Tuscany by Frances Mayes
I love reading books that are made into movies, so Under the Tuscan Sun is on my to read list even though I’ve seen the movie. I’m notoriously infamous for forgetting most of what happens in the movie. So I don’t have to worry too much about comparing the book and movie and getting frustrated.
Books Set in Amsterdam
Ok, I know Amsterdam is not a country but I kindly “blame” author Kimberly Belle for this one being so specific. She’s an American author (and one of my favorite domestic thriller authors) married to a Dutchman so she spends half her year in Amsterdam and her pictures on Instagram make Amsterdam seem like a peaceful, classic and quaint river town (with a nightlife too, I’m sure).
And I’d LOVE to go see the tulips during tulip season. Tulips are my favorite flower and they make me happy. I’d LOVE to see a whole field of happiness. So sweet!
Girl with a Pearl Earringhttps:
I am not an art enthusiast per se but I really loved the Girl with the Pearl Earring. A historical fiction about the painter Vermeer and the maid/subject of his famous painting, Griet. I remember being mesmerized and intrigued by the way the story unfolded and the way art came to life and had a certain beauty in the process of creating the paint. I think I need to read it again and take better notes in my reading journal as I’ve forgotten specifics but remember how it made me feel.
Set in Amsterdam in the 1600’s, The Miniaturist tells the story of Nella, a young newleywed who hires a miniaturist to furnish the dollhouse sized replica of her home that her husband gave her. It somehow unlocks secrets and mysteries but I supposed I’ll have to read the book to find out how! It sounds like historical fiction meets mystery and magical realism. It sounds like a great book to for my fall reading list which is when I like to read mystery, magic and murder type books. I didn’t realize the Miniaturist is a TV series too!
Note: Normally, I do not talk about the books I don’t like, but I really did not like The Dinner by Herman Koch which is a book set in Amsterdam. Talk about unreliable narrators but there just was nothing likable about the characters or plot. It might be the only book I gave a one star to in my last 10 years of reading and tracking books.
Maybe you’d like The Dinner more than I did if you don’t mind unreliable narrator. The main character is definitely one! I think it’s one of those books people either really love or really dislike. I’d be curious to hear if you read it and liked it. Maybe it’s just me 🙂
Well, that was a fun trip through books set in different countries I’d like to visit. I love traveling in books and immersing myself in new cultures and experiences. The best authors really make you feel like you’re there living it!
Where would you like to visit? Want some book recommendations for a particular country? Let me know in the comments or check out my Travel the World in Books page for a complete list of where my reading journey has taken me since I started this challenge in 2014.
Reading Challenge Printable and Weekly Bookish Newsletter
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