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Geographically located reading

1001 Books to read before you die

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Sep 4, 2017, 2:45pm Top

This topic started on the monthly read thread, but I thought I'd move it to its own thread.

What has been your best experience in reading a book that was appropriate to the place you were at when reading it?

Mine is still reading War and Peace 15 years ago in the northwestern corner of Kazakhstan, which was part of Russia in the 19th century and not far from where some of the novel occurs. I was adopting 2 children there but I had a lot of spare time alone in my apartment when not visiting the orphanage. So I read the entire book and it was completely great. People there were also quite impressed that I was reading Tolstoy!

Sep 4, 2017, 3:41pm Top

>1 annamorphic: Nice one!

At the risk of repeating myself, I'll repeat myself from the earlier thread - reading The Quiet American in the Continental Hotel in Saigon which features regularly in the novel. Greene stayed in room 214 of the hotel for some time. The locals play on the Greene connection and many street vendors have second hand copies of the book for sale.

Sep 5, 2017, 1:09pm Top

I read Dracula while in Transylvania, Romania and was reading The Idiot when I ate in The Idiot restaurant in St Petersburg. I read Birdsong while visiting a war cemetery. Wild Swans I read on an overland journey to China (it's banned inside it).

I also read Fear of Flying while I was waiting to collect someone from an airport. Not sure if that counts!

Oct 3, 2017, 10:26pm Top

Just resurrecting this thread: reading books in the places they were written/are about is one of my all-time favourite things. I think it adds something incredibly unique to the reading experience.

In fact, I'm currently in the middle of a project attempting to read a book from every country in the world whilst in that country (10 countries down, 187 to go!). I blog about it here: https://travellingtheword.com/

So far, reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez in Colombia has been one of the major highlights (though it's not on the blog yet, as I'm terminally behind on updating it...)

Oct 4, 2017, 2:30am Top

>4 sometimeunderwater: Cool and ambitious project!

Oct 4, 2017, 4:59am Top

>Wow, that is a truly great project!!

Some writers give a lot more sense of place for your geo-located reading than others, don't you find? I remember reading something geo-located while I was in Beijing and while it was interesting it didn't give that much sense of the city -- which, of course, has changed so much that perhaps it could never have been recognizable. I do remember the feeling in the book that Beijing was very, very big, which is still true now!
And my attempt at reading The Laws in Amsterdam was pretty much a total disappointment.

Oct 4, 2017, 9:12am Top

>7 Henrik_Madsen: The failure of The Laws might have something to do with book as well!

Edited: Oct 8, 2017, 12:31am Top

>1 annamorphic: what an impressive story

>3 arukiyomi: must be fun!

>4 sometimeunderwater: cool project

I have been trying to do this since I started reading the list. This month, I read Old Masters in Vienna and The Kingdom of the World in Haïti. Other examples I remember by heart are:
Death in Venice and The Comfort of Strangers in Venice
Our Lady of the Assassins in Colombia
Crime and Punishment in St Petersburg
Kristin Lavransdatter in Norway
Goodbye to Berlin in Berlin
The Old Man and the Sea in Cuba
The Mandarins in Paris
The Quiet American and The Lover in Vietnam
The Sea of Fertility in Japan
Smell of Sadness in Rotterdam
Summer in Baden-Baden in Baden-Baden
The Sorrow of Belgium in Belgium
Great Expectations in London
The Unbearable Lightness of Being in Prague
Black Box in Israël
Midaq Alley in Egypt
The House with the Spirits in Chile
Gimmick!, The Laws and The Discovery of Heaven in Amsterdam
Eline Vere in The Hague
Santa Evita in Buenos Aires
As if I Am Not There in Croatia
The Feast of the Goat in Peru
Snow in Turkey
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian in Kiev
The Reluctant Fundamentalist in Pakistan
Forever a Stranger in Indonesia

Oct 8, 2017, 1:02am Top

>8 Simone2: now that is seriously impressive

Oct 8, 2017, 2:59am Top

>8 Simone2: That’s so impressive! Especially the many places to which you travel physically as well as literarily.

Edited: Oct 8, 2017, 11:50am Top

>8 Simone2: That's an impressive list - both of books read and places visited.

For many years I have read books from the places we go on holiday. Not necessarily 1001 books, but there have been some of those as well:

Jacques the Fatalist in France
Madame Bovary in Normandy
Great Expectations in London
Effi Briest and The Tin Drum in Berlin
The Trial, War With the Newts and The Unbearable Lightness of Being in Prague
The Leopard and The Name of the Rose in Italy
Fatelessness in Budapest

Oct 10, 2017, 4:48am Top

Simone2 has beaten us all... but I must challenge one of your entries. A Short History of Tractors.. is not set in Ukraine. It's set in Cambridgeshire in the UK and, funnily enough, that is in fact where I read it ;-)

Jun 26, 2018, 12:01am Top

Just returned from Italy and Greece where I read Death in Venice in Venice (and tried to reproduce the cover under the Bridge of Sighs above), started The Leopard on Sicily, and started Zorba the Greek on Santorini (though subsequently found that Crete would have been more geographically accurate).

Jun 26, 2018, 5:57pm Top

Very cool! I love Venice.

Jun 27, 2018, 1:41am Top

>14 BentleyMay: Venice was the highlight of the trip for me, and its easy to see why it has inspired so many writers over the years.

Jan 11, 8:36am Top

I've not ever tried to do this, but I was reading Autumn of the Patriarch in the Caribbean while on vacation 10 days ago which takes place on an unnamed Caribbean island, so I think I can check one off. And I'm reading The Thirty-Nine Steps in London right now, so that will be another.

Now I'm thinking about my upcoming travels and seeing what 1001 books I should be bringing along!

Does anyone know of any that take place in Azerbaijan?

Jan 11, 9:01am Top

This is fun! I like to read something of or about a place while I an on holiday. Last example was I read The Odyssey while on a cruise on the Mediterranean. It took us less than 10 years to get home. >:-)

But compared to Simone's list I'm both untraveled and unread!

Jan 11, 5:06pm Top

>16 LisaMorr: Not a 1001 book, but Ali and Nino is set in Azerbaijan and is wonderful.

Jan 12, 11:14am Top

<18> Thank you - I'll go find it; I travel at least once a year to Azerbaijan for work and it would be neat to read something set there.

Group: 1001 Books to read before you die

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