Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Calendar Girls - Jan 2018 - favourite book not set in North America - #CalendarGirlsBooks

Welcome back to Calendar Girls, which is hosted by bloggers, Flavia the Bibliophile and Melanie Noell Bernard – both have amazing blogs full of fun, bookish posts. Calendar Girls is  now in it's second year as a monthly blog event inspired by Neil Sedaka’s 1961 song Calendar Girl. Just like in the song, they've decided to use a specific theme for each month and choose a book based on these themes! The event is meant to incite discussions with other bloggers about books we’ve read and loved, is meant to help bloggers meet other bloggers, and also for bloggers and readers to find out about blogs which they normally may not have come across! Want to know more? Click on the links above! And it’s not too late to jump on the Calendar Girl train! Join now!

Favourite Book in a Non-North American Setting 

I'm adding my own caveat to this month's selection because otherwise I am just going to pick Harry Potter again and I already used an HP book for one of the 2017 categories, and I don't want to repeat myself haha. I like to share books that the other people participating may not have already heard of! That's one of my favourite parts of this activity, learning about new books from the other bloggers involved! So I'm choosing my favourite book that I read last year that wasn't set in North America. Well crap, I forgot I re-read 2 HP books in 2017 haha. Okay, no matter, I'm purposefully choosing not to choose a Harry Potter book even though they're my favourites. I'm sticking to my guns about not repeating myself.Turns out I read A LOT of books not set in North America last year. Even more, if I were counting fantasy settings, but I'm only taking real locations into account. So how many books did I read that were set outside North America in 2017? 44 apparently...which accounts for 24% of the books I read last year - INTERESTING! So what are my options then for my favourite book in a non-North American setting?

  1. Akira volumes 1-6 set in Japan
  2. The Penelopiad set in Greece
  3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban/Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire set in the United Kingdom
  4. Books 1,3, and 4 of The Steampunk Chronicles (excluding book 2 because it was set in the States) set in the United Kingdom
  5. Persepolis 1 and 2 set in Iran and Europe
  6. The Case of the Missing Moonstone set in the United Kingdom
  7. Shenzen: A Travelogue set in China
  8. Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City set in Israel
  9. The Darkest Torment set in several non-North America settings the Czech Republic among others
  10. Burma Chronicles set in Burma
  11. volumes 1-10 of Ranma 1/2 set in Japan and China
  12. Emma set in the United Kingdom
  13. The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue set in several European cities
  14. From Russia with Love predominately set in Turkey
  15. Ruby in the Smoke set in the United Kingdom
  16. Maus set in several European cities AND also in North America so technically this one probably shouldn't count?
  17. Thursday Night Widows set in Argentina
  18. Midwinter Magic set in Bolivia
  19. Leviathan, Behemoth, & Goliath set in multiple non-North American locales - they did spend a little bit of time in the States in the 3rd book though
  20. Coldest Winter set in Germany
  21. Dracula set in multiple European countries
  22. Neverwhere set in the United Kingdom
  23. And Then There Were None set in the United Kingdom
  24. Casino Royale set in the United Kingdom and France
Books set in the United Kingdom seem to dominate my 2017 reads, but I had some interesting ones from other locations too!

Now which one ended up being my favourite non-North American setting? Let's see:

Guy Delisle expertly lays the groundwork for a cultural road map of contemporary Jerusalem, utilizing the classic stranger in a strange land point of view that made his other books, Pyongyang, Shenzhen, and Burma Chronicles required reading for understanding what daily life is like in cities few are able to travel to. In Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City, Delisle explores the complexities of a city that represents so much to so many. He eloquently examines the impact of the conflict on the lives of people on both sides of the wall while drolly recounting the quotidian: checkpoints, traffic jams, and holidays.

When observing the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim populations that call Jerusalem home, Delisle's drawn line is both sensitive and fair, assuming nothing and drawing everything. Jerusalem showcases once more Delisle's mastery of the travelogue.
-- via Goodreads
This is a 336-page graphic memoir. There's a lot going on in this book. I discovered Delisle's graphic nonfiction in our graphic novel collection at work. I started with his North Korean travelogue in 2016 and devoured the rest of them last year. Jerusalem was definitely my favourite. I've got his latest work, Hostage sitting on my TBR shelf waiting for me to pick it up. So you may or may not know that my undergraduate degree at University was a double major in English and Religion & Culture. I've always been fascinated by studying religion from the cultural studies perspective. How religion informs culture and vice versa. As someone whose interests lean that way, I have always been absolutely equal parts fascinated and horrified by the situation in modern Israel.

That's why I loved this book so much. It gave me a fantastic grounding in what's going on in Jerusalem in the now times, from the experience and eyes of an ex-pat. His experience is probably really similarly in line with what my own experience would be if I were to travel there. Obviously excluding the fact that he gets to experience things a normal ex-pat might not because his partner works for an NGO.

Delisle's art is crisp and engaging and engrossing. His writing is clear. He's a very good storyteller who really conveys his experiences well. If you've ever wanted to learn more about just the day to day experience of what goes on in modern-day Jerusalem, this book is a really great primer.

How many different non-North American settings did you visit in your 2017 reading?

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