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Books Set in Asia: Northern Countries

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After wrapping up our armchair travels through Europe, this month for the Book Voyage reading challenge we’ll be reading books set in Asia’s northern countries.

Asia is the largest and most populated continent on Earth and is home to some of the world’s oldest known human societies, dating back 600,000 years. As Asian societies became more sophisticated, they achieved remarkable accomplishments in technology, governance, and the arts.

Today, Asia is home to two of the largest economies in the world – China and Japan. It is also home to some of the most secretive governments, including North Korea and Turkmenistan.

With the increased violence against Asian Americans during the past year, we can’t publish this list of books set in 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.

The Eurasian landmass is divided into two continents – Europe and Asia – but some countries, like Russia, straddle the border between the two. The Siberian region of eastern Russia is sometimes referred to as North Asia, but we are using a different definition of “Northern Asia” for purposes of the Book Voyage challenge. Since we grouped all of Russia in with Eastern Europe last month, we have not included Siberian Russia on our Asian list this month. In short, don’t take a geography test based on our divisions, they are for reading challenge purposes only!

For purposes of this reading challenge, we roughly divided Asia into northern and southern regions, and we consider northern Asian countries to include: Kazakstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China (including its autonomous areas, like Tibet), Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

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.

25 Books Set in Northern Asia

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 northern countries, including many great novels and historical fiction, compelling memoirs, and well-researched non-fiction reads.

We’ve worked hard to curate book recommendations that feature many Asian writers and emphasized books that provide atmospheric descriptions that transport you to the Asian country of your choice.

Best Books About Asia's Northern Countries

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

Next up, pick your book set in southern region of Asia.

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Books Set in Asia: Southern Countries - Book Girls' Guide

Tuesday 20th of April 2021

[…] month, we read books set in the northern countries of Asia, and this month we’ll be focusing on the southern region the covers the all countries […]


Sunday 21st of March 2021

Your blog post made me cry this morning. Yes, this is exactly what books are meant to do - inspire empathy and connection. It is a happy coincidence that April's theme is Northern Asia and I look forward to reading a few from your list. I have Wild Swans and Pachinko on my TBR shelves, so those would be the logical choices...but you never know what will grab me when it is time to read. Thanks for a wonderful challenge!

Kathryn Lang-Slattery

Sunday 21st of March 2021

Thanks again for a wonderfully curated list of books! As Asia has always been a special interest of mine, I've already read 5 of the listed books (including the World of Susie Wong when I was in High School!) Still, I've found 8 additional books on this list that appeal to me..... I hardly know where to start. As I am also a food/cooking person, I may start with The Great Passage. I'm also going to pretend that The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See ( already in my stack of TBR books) is on the list and read it too.

Mimi Pollack

Saturday 20th of March 2021

Your reading lists are always so great and well-researched! Thank you!

Books Set in Eastern Europe & Russia - Book Girls' Guide

Saturday 20th of March 2021

[…] Next up, pick your book set in the northern region of Asia! […]