Saturday, 3 March 2012

Discussion: Random Book Cravings & Book Settings

I go through phases of craving certain genres of books - sometimes I want to read contemporary, sometimes high fantasy, sometimes paranormal romance... but sometimes, it gets more specific than that and I've recently realised that I have some topic obsessions when it comes to books (and it's annoying because it has proven pretty difficult to find books to feed those obsessions, especially YA ones).

After reading A Thousand Splendid Suns, I desperately wanted to read more books set in like, Middle Eastern countries with Muslim characters or some other religion except Christianity (preferrably with at least a love story as a sideplot). I'm not Muslim, I'm not religious at all really, but something about reading a culture so far from what I know - it's fascinating.

I've yet to find another book that wows me like A Thousand Splendid Suns did but it's not for lack of trying. I have four books on my shelves waiting to be read that fall into this catagory, hopefully one of them will work for me.

Another book craving I get is books that have love stories set during a time of war. I'm not sure why really, maybe it's something about the beauty of love still happening even in the worst of circumstances - Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys falls into this catagory. I've tried to find other books along those lines but haven't had much luck yet - I have Annexed on my shelves and a book called A Song for Katya which is set in Russia during the Cold War and The Cellist of Sarajevo, which I think is set during the Seige of Sarajevo (I don't know if either of those have a love story or not, but the settings hooked me).

I read a book last year/the start of this year, Exile by Jakob Ejersbo. It's by a Danish author (who died in 2008, sadly) and it's set in Tanzania and the book is awesome.

Gone With the Wind is set during the American Civil War so that fits and Like Water for Chocolate sort of fits too - there is kind of a war going on and it has an impact on the characters and it's a culture I'm not totally familiar with and it has a love story.

One of the books I'm most looking forward to this year is set during the Iraq war and it's YA, I've been dying to read it since I heard about it months ago - it'll be mentioned in my next Waiting on Wednesday post (I say "next" but I don't do them very often, it's usually Julie's thing but I wanted to have a WoW post just so I could mention this book).

I have a lot of - setting cravings. Books set in Russia, in the Baltic States (Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia), in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Romania, in the Balkans (Bosnia, Serbia Croatia...)... those sort of places. And books set in the parts of Europe that I usually only hear about during the Eurovision Song Contest (cannot wait for that this year - dunno if people outside of Europe watch it, but it's a big thing here).

I love stories set in America and Australia and places like Paris and Italy, but I don't really crave stories set there like I do with those other countries. I think it's because of the mystery - I'm more familiar with those cultures, those countries, because they're often shown in movies and books and TV shows, the others...not so much.

I think it may also be that - books allow us to visit places without actually going there. They can take you to a certain country or a certain time and for a little while, while you're buried in the pages, you get to experience it as if you're there, looking through the eyes of the characters. It's not quite the same as going there and living it yourself, but...it's nice. And it's nice to go places that Hollywood and the majority of books don't take us.

I don't really like books set here in the UK/Scotland - there are a few exceptions, but in general, I like books to take me to faraway places. I crave books that do that and I think maybe I'm bored of the typical settings which is why I've been wanting to...broaded my book world.

Desperately wanting to read books with a particular setting or theme or topic can be a bit frustrating because when trying to find the books that fit the specific thing you're looking for is difficult (at least in my case - because the kind of books I've been looking for are talked about less, it's harder to find people online talking about them and recommending similar books).

And I'll stop rambling, but yeah:
Discussion questions:

1. Do you have any book cravings? What are they? (I'm not talking genres, I mean specific settings or topics like... I dunno, books about blind people, books set during wars, books set in China, books about lesbians etc.)

2. Settings - is there any particular settings that you find yourself wanting to read?

3. Have you read any of the books mentioned in this post? If yes, what'd you think of them? (If no, I really recommend A Thousand Splendid Suns and Between Shades of Gray and Like Water for Chocolate)

4. Do you have any books you'd recommend to me (that are set during a war or even better, a love story set during a war, or books set in a country that isn't the UK/US/Italy/Paris)?
I think I'm going to set myself a book challenge at some point this year - like choosing a list of countries and I have to read one book from/set in each country on the list. Would anyone be interested in joining that challenge?

Later.

4 comments:

  1. Ah! My grandma's read A Thousand Splendid Suns and she thought it was amazing. ;) Maybe I'll have to pick that up sometime...

    1. I'm really craving for some books about World War II. I mean, I once read a book of a soldier during that time, and I really enjoyed it, but I've never been able to find any other WWII book that pulled me in like that. :/

    2. Well, books set in an arena. Sort of like The Hunger Games, because I found that one to be amazing. I've never read an action/dystopia book as good as that one before. I'm looking around, though...

    3. No, I've never read them. But like I said, I might pick up A Thousand Splendid Suns soon.

    4. Have you tried Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand? That's the book I was talking about in #1. It's an amazing book. If you like historical fiction, then I think you'll like this.

    Ooh! That challenge sounds interesting. :P But I agree. We tend to read too many books set in the US. A change in scenery would be nice.

    Okay, this comment is getting too long. I'm stopping here.

    -Meg
    http://thebookgalaxy.blogspot.com

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    Replies
    1. Ah, nope, haven't read that one, I'll check it out. I haven't read many WW2 books either, but I think The Book Thief and Annexed (which I mentioned in this post) are set in that time period.

      Have you tried reading Battle Royale? It's a Japanese novel with a similar premise to The Hunger Games (but BR was out first). I've got the book but haven't read it yet, but I've seen the movie...it's a bit more violent than THG but it's a dystopia where a bunch of kids are sent of to an island and have to kill each other off and there's some other similarities to THG too. If it was the arena aspect you liked then you might like BR.

      Divergent is really awesome too - not set in an arena but it has that same dystopian feel to it. And Girl in the Arena - haven't read that one yet but it's on my shelves.

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    2. I'll be sure to look those two up.

      Hmm, no, I've never heard of it, but from what you say, it sounds interesting. I just can't get enough of dystopian books! Yeah, I'm currently reading Divergent. From what I've read of it, it's amazing.

      Thanks for the recommendations!

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  2. would love to read some YA set in modern day russia

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