For our last challenge, we stayed close to home, exploring books with Carroll County settings. I figured for this edition, we’d venture away from Arkansas and, indeed, the United States to do a literary tour of all seven continents.
These suggestions are specifically designed to meet the 2016 Library Challenge of reading a book set in a different country, but these recommendations are also perfect even if you’re not participating in the challenge. I selected 3 books for each continent and also tried to include a nice range of genres, everything from literary fiction to mysteries to nonfiction to romance. As always, if you’re interested in learning more about any of these books, just follow this link to our online catalog. From there, you can read more information, as well as check availability and place holds.
Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace (1996)
If you enjoy historical fiction, try Margaret Atwood’s witty, complex exploration of a real life murder case from the 1840s. In 19th century Ontario, maid Grace Marks is accused of murdering her employer and his housekeeper. Marks provided numerous, contradictory accounts of her role in the crime, and to this day, nobody is quite sure what role she played in the crime or what her motivations were. Naturally, Atwood takes the uncertainty surrounding the case and weaves a compelling story out of it, from the perspective of an “alienist” (19th century psychologist) hired to interview Marks.
Jim Fergus’s The Wild Girl: The Notebooks of Ned Giles (2005)
Also historical fiction but in a different century and country than Alias Grace, this book features a dual narrative focusing on Ned Giles, a retired photographer forced to sell his only copy of a cryptic photograph of an Apache girl in a Mexican jail and his memories of the events leading up to the photograph, told via the diary he kept at the time. The bulk of the book focuses on the earlier story, set in Mexico in 1932, when the young Ned joins an expedition whose intention is to rescue a rancher’s son who was kidnapped by Apaches, with the girl in the photograph functioning as a hostage. Action and romance ensue.
Jacqueline Sheehan’s The Center of the World (2015)
If contemporary family drama is more interesting to you than historical fiction, you might enjoy Jacqueline Sheehan’s acclaimed The Center of the World. Sofia has been raised in America, believing she was adopted from Mexico. After her stepfather’s death, she is stunned to learn that she was possibly illegally adopted from Guatemala in the early 1990s during the country’s tumultuous civil war, when her mother was in the country as a graduate student. Sofia then returns to Guatemala with her estranged mother in tow, determined to discover the truth about her origins and adoption.