My Top 10 Books Set Outside The US

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is Top Ten Books Set Outside The US. While seeing what books I’ve read that are set somewhere other than the US that were not sci-fi/fantasy/dystopia, I discovered that basically all of them were set in Europe. Sounds like something I should probably fix, so please send me recs!

Note: I decided to keep this list limited to classics, contemporary, and historical fiction. I excluded Harry Potter because I consider it fantasy, so don’t think it wouldn’t top this list otherwise. List is in no particular order.



“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” I was hooked on this suspenseful classic from the start. While the narrator references the estate in England where she’ll settle with her husband, the novel starts off in Monte Carlo with the her worldwind romance with Mr. de Winter, then they travel to his home shrouded in mystery.

The Book Thief


This book set in WWII Germany gave me a new perspective of those who lived under Hitler’s oppression, not to mention it’s just an amazing read all around.

Code Name Verity


Another WWII story set in Europe, both France and England, as well as a prison camp. It’s a bit of a slow, layered read, but when everything ties together it’s pretty incredible.

The Distant Hours


Another book full of layers, that alternates between a WWII timeline and a 1990s timeline, all set in England. The WWII storyline focuses on children billeted and living at a castle, creating quite an atmosphere for those of us who don’t live anywhere near castles.

All Fall Down


This feels a bit like a cheat for my criteria of non-fantasy since the location, Adria, is not real, but the story is a contemporary thriller so I decided to keep it on my list. And Adria feels like it could be a real coastal country in Europe, steeped in rich history.

Between Shades of Gray


All the WWII! So this starts in Lithuania, then Lina is forced to leave home and travels by train further north to a work camp, and ultimately, to Siberia. This book also revealed another chapter in WWII history I was unfamiliar with, including an interesting  perspective from the characters who viewed Hitler as a lesser evil than Stalin.

Salt to the Sea


I actually don’t recall where on land the book was set before the characters reach the Wilhelm Gustloff, but again, it’s definitely Europe, and the characters come from different nationalities. In this account of the worst maritime disaster that has been overshadowed by the Titanic, we see yet another glimpse into a largely unknown chapter in WWII’s history.

Crime and Punishment


Let’s just say Russia sounds like a rough place to live.

Jane Austen books


All of Austen’s books take place during the Regency era in England, and we definitely get a very good feel for their society from her writings.

Sherlock Holmes


These mysteries set in late 1800s England are a delight to read and a peek into the culture of the time.

The Scarlet Pimpernel


The plot of this book is largely centered around the politics of the French Revolution. I also love how Sharon Cameron reused these same elements in her retelling Rook.

What’s your favorite book set outside of the US?

20 Responses to My Top 10 Books Set Outside The US

  1. Ah, Kate Morton! One of my favorite authors – also had one of hers on my list! I also (finally) read Pride and Prejudice recently and enjoyed it. I may have to try out The Book Thief.

    • I haven’t read any more Kate Morton yet but I really need to one day! And yes, I definitely recommend The Book Thief to pretty much everyone!

  2. Love this list! Almost everything on it is either something I read and enjoyed or is on my to-read list. I’ve been meaning to read “Rebecca” for years, and I plan to make a point of it this fall. I think gothic reads like that just seem so much more atmospheric in autumn, though now that I’m in Hawaii for the next three years it will still be sunny and in the 80s! I’ll have to turn down the A/C and light some fall-scented candles or something.

    I really like that Kate Morton cover. I’ve read and loved two of her books and I had planned for my next one to be “The Forgotten Garden,” but “The Distant Hours” sounds awesome. I do have a bit of a thing for castles… 😉

    • I always say I could skip fall, but deep down I think I would miss it some. Hopefully you can create a little fall in your Hawaii home later this year. 🙂 I haven’t read any more Kate Morton yet but I think I really need to!

  3. When I read the topic my first thought was that mine would all be sci-fi or fantasy 🙂
    Otherwise… I’d totally have to go through goodreads and think about it. I did read The Book Thief which was very good. And a five book series set just after WWII in Jerusalem. I might have to count them each individually to get to 10. Oh, wait! Jerico Road is set in Australia! Otherwise mine would probably be a handful of books also all set in Europe. I did read a fantasy trilogy set in Russia but… fantasy so it doesn’t count 🙂

    • Exactly, this list would have been overrun with sci-fi and fantasy otherwise, but I just wanted to talk about established, real-world places for some reason. That post-WWII in Jerusalem series sounds interesting! Do you remember the name of it?

      • It’s the Zion Chronicles by Bodie and Brock Thoene. It’s not YA, but I loved almost all of the characters. And the plots of each novel standalone well enough but also build on each other as the series progresses.

        • I’ve heard of those, and I can’t remember if I have read a book from that series or if it was another Christian series with a similiar concept. Maybe one day I’ll check it out.

  4. Great list. I love Kate Morton but not yet the Distant Hours, The House at Riveton is my favourite, it’s because of her I got into reading this genre.

    • I’ll have to check that one out sometime. The Distant Hours is the only book of hers I read, and it actually only came onto my radar because someone loaned it to me.

  5. I’m not surprised that you have read so many books set in Europe! Especially when it comes to books about WWII!

    Also, I have never heard of The Distant Hours. WHICH IS GREAT because now I can add it to my WWII shelf 🙂

  6. It took me AGES to figure out that Adria in All Fall Down wasn’t a real place ahhahah. It felt real?!? So kudos to the author for that! And I really love all the WWII appreciation here. <3 Code Name Verity totally BROKE MY HEART. But ahh, I love it still!
    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!

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