6 Novels to Take Your Book Group Across the Globe

6 books to take your book group across the globe

No matter where we are in the world, books offer us a way of traveling to locations different from our own. Below, we bring you a list of relatively recent novels available in paperback that can help your book club explore and contemplate locales all over the globe, from remote wilderness to bustling cities.

Half of the books feature journeys by water or by air, while the others dive deep into the intricate details of specific places. Two of them, The Paris Hours and The Devil and the Dark Water, will even allow your group to travel through time to bygone eras, in the City of Light and on the high seas respectively.


The River

The River
by Peter Heller



Paperback Mar 2020. 272 pages. Vintage

This tale of wilderness survival follows friends Wynn and Jack roughing it on a canoe trip through Northern Canada. What begins as a fun river adventure becomes a fraught journey when the two are faced with the threat of a forest fire and witness possible evidence of a murder. The River lends itself well to philosophical discussions, as Heller weaves moral questions together with descriptions of nature in the secluded setting where the main characters struggle with crucial decisions.

Review, Discussion Guide & "Beyond the Book"

Disappearing Earth

Disappearing Earth
by Julia Phillips



Paperback Apr 2020. 272 pages. Vintage

In Disappearing Earth, the lives of the inhabitants of the peninsula of Kamchatka in eastern Russia are thrown into disarray by the disappearance of two young girls. While loosely following a thriller format, Phillips' novel delves into the specifics of the area, painting a vivid picture of a sparsely populated, geographically isolated and culturally unique place. Each chapter is written from the perspective of a different character, giving readers a full and nuanced view of the featured community.

Review, Discussion Guide & "Beyond the Book"

Starling Days

Starling Days
by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan



Paperback Apr 2021. 304 pages. The Overlook Press.

Starling Days is a contemporary domestic drama that examines how place can impact one's relationships, health and general outlook. The plot takes Mina, a classicist struggling with depression, from New York City to London with her husband Oscar. She soon finds herself separated from Oscar as he embarks on his own physical and mental journey. While Buchanan's novel deals with heavy subjects, occasionally humorous moments along with frequent changes in location lighten the mood. Mina's musings on women in Greek mythology give book groups a fascinating subject to explore further.

Review & "Beyond the Book"

The Paris Hours

The Paris Hours: A Novel by Alex George



Paperback May 2021. 272 pages. Flatiron Books

George's novel takes the reader straight into 1920s Paris. While populated with many famous real-life figures, including Josephine Baker, Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein, the story revolves around the experiences of four ordinary people that unfold over a single day. A book that can be read slowly and savored, The Paris Hours focuses on the sights and sounds of one of the most beloved cities in the world at a time when it was a haven for artists and writers. Our book club discussion of the novel can serve as inspiration for your own conversations.

Review, Discussion Buide & "Beyond the Book"

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line
by Deepa Anappara



Paperback May 2021. 384 pages. Random House

The sociopolitical backdrop for this intensely descriptive novel is poverty and inequality in India. In an unnamed neighborhood, children are vanishing. Nine-year-old Jai, having developed a taste for crime investigation from watching cop shows on television, enlists the help of two friends to begin looking into these disappearances. Book clubs can discuss the societal issues presented by the story while also appreciating the intimate details that make up Anappara's painstakingly wrought settings.

Review & "Beyond the Book"

The Devil and the Dark Water

The Devil and the Dark Water
by Stuart Turton



Paperback Jul 2021. 448 pages. Sourcebooks

A slow-paced mystery, Stuart Turton's The Devil and the Dark Water will whisk your book group aboard the Sardaam, a ship traveling from Batavia to Amsterdam in the 17th century. A detective named Samuel Pipps is on the boat, where a series of strange and supernatural occurrences take place. Against expectations, it isn't Pipps himself who must solve the mystery of these odd goings-on — in fact, he has been imprisoned for a crime, and the investigative work falls to his bodyguard and another character on board.

Review, Discussion Guide & "Beyond the Book"

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