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Books Set in Asia: Southern Countries

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As the weather begins to warm up, so does the climate of the next destination in our armchair travels. This month the Book Voyage reading challenge is taking us to the tropical climates in southern Asia.

From the treacherous peak of Mt. Everest to the tropical beaches, southern Asia is incredibly diverse, both in its landscape and its people. It is one of the most densely populated regions on Earth, and is home to two of the four most populous countries in the world (India and Indonesia). Throughout the countries of southern Asia (and sometimes even within a single country) there are hundreds of different ethnic groups and languages spoken, in addition to many popular religions.

With the increased violence against Asian Americans during the past year, we can’t publish this list of books set in southern Asia without stating our hope that, in addition to traveling virtually through their pages, these books will also help us all gain a deeper understanding of, and deeper respect for, our fellow humans. You can read more of our thoughts about the power of books here.

Last month, we read books set in the northern countries of Asia, and this month we’ll be focusing on the southern region the covers all countries commonly referred to geographical terms as South Asia as well as Southeast Asia.

For purposes of the Book Voyage reading challenge, we consider southern Asian countries to include: Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Timor-Leste, the Philippines, and Brunei.

PS: You can read all about the Book Voyage challenge, find new book lists each month, and download your free printable map book tracker, with a color-coded map of each region here.

Books Set in Southern Asia, words with book covers for Tea Planters Wife, Golden Age, I Am Malala and Written in the Stars

As always, you are welcome to choose any book set in this region that you’d like. To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best books set in Asia’s southern countries, including many great novels and eye-opening historical fiction, heartbreaking as well as uplifting memoirs, and well-researched non-fiction reads.

While Americans today view many of the countries in Southeast Asia as exotic vacation destinations, most are largely unaware of the very difficult recent history in many of these countries, such as the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia and the 26-year Sri Lankan civil war (that ended in 2009). Fortunately, in compiling this reading list, we found an abundance of great books written by authors from each country that provide authenticity and will help us all gain a deeper understanding of this region.

Books Set in Southern Asia

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Throughout the list, we noted the books currently available as part of Kindle Unlimited Subscriptions.

Next up, find our list of books that take place on an island.

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Books Set on Islands - Book Girls' Guide

Thursday 20th of May 2021

[…] month, we read books set in Southern Asia – a region that includes many island nations. Our book lists for Western Europe and Northern […]

Roberta Biallas

Monday 3rd of May 2021

This month, I think I'll journey to Nepal and climb Mount Everest! So, I'm starting 'Into Thin Air' by Jon Krakauer.

Steph Gardiner

Saturday 24th of April 2021

Wow! This may be the hardest month to choose just one book! I may have to try and power through a few instead :-) Absolutely loving this challenge! <3

Kathryn Lang-Slattery

Wednesday 21st of April 2021

Another great book list for May! So much to read.... this time, I've only read 3 of the books previously and at least 15 of the others really grab my interest. I plan to keep your lists as guides for book selection long after this challenge is finished.

Leah Tyler

Tuesday 20th of April 2021

Great list! I've already read two, The Henna Artist and They Storyteller's Secret, but am trying to knock some titles off my TBR so will be reading What Could Be Saved and The Mountains Sing, as well as Burnt Sugar. Thanks for hosting this, really enjoying the challenge!