I have been loving BooksandLala on YouTube and Instagram for a while now. She always comes up with interesting ways to choose her TBR (to be read) pile for the month. Whether it’s her husband picking her books or following another booktubers TBR, I am always intrigued.
One of her latest ideas was to get a DNA test and choose books based on where her ancestors came from. In itself it was a pretty cool idea. It was also really cool because a few months ago I got a DNA test out of curiosity. I don’t know much about my ancestors and where they come from so I thought it would be fun to learn a bit about my DNA. I wasn’t completely shocked by my results but it was definitely interesting as I only had a vague assumption of my ancestral make up.
After watching Lala’s video it inspired me to do the same. I went back to my DNA results to see where my ancestors were from and found books set in those places. I wanted to do this to see what other cultures and experiences that could be related to my ancestors.
For each country or area of the globe I have chosen a book, some have two, that are set in that country or a country within that area. If there is more than one book I will read the first chapter of each and decide which I am more interested in. I will be trying my best to read one of my choices each month and putting up a review of what I thought of it when I am finished. Most of these books will be coming from my local library unless I already own them. Now, on to the interesting part! My DNA and the books!
It was no surprise to me that I am mostly European. Just from the little bits of my family’s history I know it would make sense. My dad is definitely from European decent and my mom has some European in her family’s history as well.
My top percentage was British and Irish, which again was not a surprise. The first book I have chosen for Britain is A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray which is about a young girl named Gemma who leaves her life in India to go to a boarding school in England where all kinds of mysterious and fantastical things happen. The second is Ross Poldark by Winston Graham which is about Ross Poldark returning from the war to find that his love is engaged to his cousin, after he was presumed dead, and how he gets on in life.
For Ireland I have chosen The Yellow House by Patricia Falvey about a woman who wants to reunite her family in the midst of war, religious intolerance, and possible love interests who are on the opposite sides of a spectrum, and The Irish Princess by Karen Harper about Elizabeth Fitzgerald, an Irish princess, who is taken by the English but still wants to reclaim her home and will not be tamed.
The next was Broadly Northwestern European which includes Ireland, Norway, Finland, all the way south to France. Which brings me to my next category French and German. For France I have chosen The Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire which is a collection of poetry by the French poet from the 19th Century and Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald which is about a romance between an actress and the stylish American couple Dick and Nicole Diver set on the French Riviera in the 1920s.
For Germany I have chosen Book of Clouds by Chloe Aridjis about a young woman adrift in Berlin where a string of encounters leads to romance, violence, and revelation.
The next percentage under European was Iberian, which today consists of Spain and Portugal. Set in Spain I have chosen The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon which is about a young boy who sets out to find the rest of an author’s work but finds that someone has been systematically destroying all copies of every book this author has written. The second book set in Spain is The House of Impossible Loves by Cristina Lopez Barrio about a family of women cursed to have tragic love affairs and only bare daughters and how the curse may eventually be broken.
For Portugal I have chosen The book of disquiet by Fernando Pessoa which is a collection of work and The High Mountains of Portugal by Yann Martel which is about three different people and their discovery and journey through Portugal.
- Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa was my second highest percentage category, which was also not a surprise. The first region represented was West African. For West Africa I have chosen Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about a 15-year-old who is sent to live with her aunt, when Nigeria begins to fall apart under a military coup, where she learns that there is a life outside her father’s authority. The second book I have chosen for West Africa is Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta which is about a young girl who is sent away to safety ten there is civil war in Nigeria, where she meets another displaced child, who is also a girl, and star-crossed, fall in love.
South Africa is also considered under Sub-Saharan Africa and for this region I have chosen The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso which is about two, widowed, successful women, one black and one white, who are neighbors and hate each other. However, unforeseen events force them together.
- East Asia
East Asia was my third highest region, which did come as some surprise, though I expected that I was significantly mixed. East Asia includes Indonesia and I have chosen the book The Land of Five towers by Ahmad Fuadi which is about a boy sent to an Islamic boarding school and develops a friendship with five other boys.
I had a hard time finding books set in East Asia that seemed interesting to me, so I may still continue my search and change my choice for this one.
- Western Asia & North Africa
Finally Western Asia and North Africa, which includes Egypt. The first book I have chosen is Cleopatra’s Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter which is about Selene and her journey being taken to Rome to grow into herself and choose one of two possible destinies. The second is Counted With The Stars by Connilyn Cossette, about a young Egyptian girl sold into slavery, her struggle in the middle of a plague, and her find to save her brother and break free of the bonds of slavery.
Again, I had a hard time finding interesting sounding books in these areas so I may again change my mind as this project continues.
So far, these are the books I plan to read, or try to read. I am of course always open to recommendations if you know any good books set in any of these regions. This journey will begin in June as I will start from the top and work my way down. Look out for more updates!