9 Books with a Strong Sense of Place

  • November 20, 2014

It’s Geography Awareness Week! (We know, right?) So put down your globe and pick up these fascinating stories, all of which boast a vivid setting.

9 Books with a Strong Sense of Place
  1. Iberia by James Michener. This meandering, long, and utterly delicious account of Michener's love affair with Spain takes us from the crisping heat of Extremadura to the massive, wildlife-rich swamps of Las Marismas. Just try not falling in love, too.
  2. The Seamstress by Frances de Pontes Peebles. In the wild backcountry of Brazil, two sisters dream of escape from their impoverished childhoods. But early-20th-century Brazilian politics have a different fate in store, taking them across the unforgiving scrublands and the urban chaos of Recife.
  3. Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller. This mesmerizing account of Fuller’s childhood in Africa throbs with the energy and allure of a place that's both magical and inhospitable.
  4. My Antonia by Willa Cather. The author creates one of her most memorable characters in this evocative tale of the immigrant experience on the Nebraska frontier.
  5. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. Through the eyes of its schoolteacher protagonist, the isolation of a small coastal town in Maine becomes a stand-in for the aching cries of the human soul.
  6. A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry. Set in Indira Gandhi’s India in the mid-1970s, this tale of corruption, caste, upheaval, and poverty is softened by the unique warmth of its people and their enduring friendships.
  7. Dakota: A Spiritual Geography by Kathleen Norris. This meditative nonfiction book about the author’s life on the Great Plains shows a harsh landscape both desolate and sublime.
  8. An American Childhood by Annie Dillard. In her characteristic penetrating prose, Dillard celebrates the experience of growing up in Pittsburgh in the 1950s.
  9. The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers. The slow rhythms of a small Southern town filter the longings of 12-year-old tomboy Frankie Addams, who dreams of going away with her brother and his bride.

What are your favorite books with a powerful sense of place? Tell us about them in the comments section below!

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