Top 5… books set in your own country

Good morning bookworms!

Today’s Top 5 Tuesday is ‘books set in your own country’. Top 5 Tuesday is hosted by the super lovely Shanah over at the Bionic Bookworm. You can visit her here, and join in for Top 5 Tuesday by checking out all the amazing topics we have coming up!

Ahhhh, Australia. There’s actually a really beautiful poem called My Country by Dorothea Mackellar that perfectly describes the Aussie landscape in all its stark beauty. You can read it HERE or you can listen to a recording of it by Mackellar HERE. (I will warn you, she does this weird thing where she rolls her ‘r’s and it makes it hard to understand her enunciation.)

So! Books set in the land of Aus… To be honest, I really only know of Aussie authors who write books set in Australia, and I don’t really read that many as most of my Aussie authors (Kristoff, Kaufman, Pacat, Nix, Carmody, Douglass, Forsyth) all write fantasy novels. There are a couple though, so fingers crossed I can make out 5 books with the limited authors I know of!

A Thousand Perfect Notes and The Boy Who Steals Houses by C.G. Drews, are both set in Australia (although there is no town or city specified in either). I can say this is evidenced by one scene in which it is confirmed that August, Beck and Sam all attend the same school, AND by one scene where Sam is in a supermarket (or grocery store) and goes past a vegemite display. (I’m hungry for vegemite on toast now.)

The Tomorrow When the War Began series by John Marsden is an amazing dystopian series where Australia gets invaded while this group of six (seven?) kids are out camping on a long weekend. The first book was released in 1993, so I’m sure that it has aged considerably when it comes to technology (I don’t remember the kids having cell phones on the trip), but if you love stories about kids fighting back or blowing stuff up, and messy romances in the middle of war, then I cannot recommend this series enough. It absolutely blew my mind when I was a kid and I was obsessed with it. I even got the exclusive dust jacket cover for one of the books. Also, much like the later HP novels, it’s not really a kid’s series as it discussed quite adult themes and there is definitely murder in these books. (There are newer covers now, nicer ones, but I have the barbed wire ones.)

Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta (and all her other contemporary novels too). I very much plan on doing a reread of this book soon because it was one of my absolute favourites growing up. (Also, I saw that it’s recently been re-released as a hardcover and I am dying to get my hands on a copy.) This is a contemporary YA novel that talks about ethnicity, the pressures of high school exams (and knowing what you want to do with your life), single parenthood, family secrets, and suicide. Marchetta was one of my favourite authors growing up, so I’m actually pretty excited to finally meet her soon (and have her sign my dilapidated copy of this book).

I remember reading Storm Boy by Colin Thiele as a young’un. Mostly because it was on my mum’s bookshelf (it was first published in 1963) and my mum liked it when she was also a young’un. To be honest, I don’t really remember that much about it, except the pelicans, but I know that there has just been a remake of the film starring Geoffrey Rush that is due out in April. So instead of rereading it, I’ll probably just watch the movie and see if it triggers any memories. Although, I know it’s not a long book – I remember it being quite thin, so maybe I will reread it one day?

OK, I admit that I am struggling now. I vaguely remember reading a LOT of Morris Gleitzman and Paul Jennings books when I was young (and not just their co-authored ones). They’re mostly children’s/middle grade level, and I know there was one Gleitzman book in particular where a kid painted a corrugated iron roof one stinking hot summer – super thrilling stuff. I’m sure there are others, but I can’t remember them very well at all. However, there are some children’s books that I would draw your attention to…

Possum Magic by Mem Fox is one of the greatest Aussie children’s picture books in existence. The story talks about a little possum who starts to turn invisible, and needs to eat ‘Aussie’ food to stay visible. From memory (and it’s been a while) this includes things like lamingtons and vegemite sandwiches. I don’t know anyone who didn’t grow up with this or Wombat Stew. I also have to give a quick shout out to May Gibbs if we’re talking about children’s books. Her iconic stories featuring characters such as The Gumnut Babies, The Wattle Babies and The Banksia Men have been around since the early 1900’s and are still in kids’ bookshelves today.


I am going to do a final shoutout, because I have been meaning to buy and read these books for a couple of years now, but just haven’t quite gotten to it yet. (I was waiting for the final book to come out!) The Valentine trilogy by Jodi McAlister is, from my understanding of my friends trying to shove these books down my throat, an urban fantasy series set in the Aussie bushlands. It’s about fae, and there’s murder, magic and plot twists, and … why haven’t I read these books yet? Anyway, Misrule just came out about a month ago, and I missed the book launch (sad face), but I WILL get to these books.

Until next time, happy reading 😊📚

24 thoughts on “Top 5… books set in your own country

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  1. I only know CG Drews haha!
    This is actually quite hard, cannot really think about any English books taking place in the Netherlands (only books that were originally written in Dutch).


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  2. aww thank you for featuring my books!! 😍(I ended up not naming a town just in case people could imagine them wherever, but to me they’re sort of set in the Lismore/Byron Bay area in NSW!) But eep I love Aussie authors and books that really feel HOME. All our slang and our weird sense of humour. It’s the best! I didn’t realise that Valentin series was Australian though?! That makes me want to read it so much. I also love Jay Kristoff as an Aussie author although I *believe* none of his books are set in Oz? And also Markus Zusak, Amie Kaufman, Steph Bowe, and Cath Crowley!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s hilarious. I always pictured it somewhere near Ballina because it reminds me of the sea on the north coast of NSW. (I spent a lot of time in Alstonville in summer because that’s where my grandparents lived.)
      Jodi McAlister is one of the Melbourne crew (Kristoff, Kaufman, Pacat, Scholte) and she said at an event that it was an urban fantasy fae/elf series from the bush, as opposed to the traditional woodlands. I’d actually forgotten it until I was writing about Gibbs and Fox and then was all 💡…
      All Kristoff and Kaufman’s books are fantasy/sci-fi so none set here. Nevernight setting is based on Venice/Rome though.


    1. Yes, I loved it!!
      Incidentally, your list has reminded me of a tiny little place we stayed at when I was on my honeymoon. We found a tiny little village called Mühlbach am Hochkönig when we were on our way from Salzburg to Italy and it was one of my most favourite places in the world 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Meeghan I need tor read CG and Melinda! I own one of their books… One I loved happening in your country ( a little gem) is Stolen by Lucy Christopher! Now my country is another story..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sophie!!! YES, please read both authors – I love them (and their books). I’ve not heard of Stolen before, I’m off to look into it.
      And I’m looking forward to reading your post!! xx


    1. Hi, I did know that they are set here, but alas I have not read them. I try and only use books that I have read for prompts like these, or books that aren’t as popular and might need some assistance in getting word out.
      Have you read the books? What did you think of them?


  4. Dude this is so cool! I love the concept for this post–it’s fascinating to read about the variety of books set in a country and how both different and similar they are. I actually don’t think I’ve read any of these yet (but have heard really good things about Last Night When the War Began)–which one would you recommend starting with?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Andy! Unfortunately I cannot take any credit in this topic, Shanah @ Bionic Bookworm is the brains behind this post. But, I can absolutely recommend both books by C.G. Drews (my review for The Boy Who Steals Houses will be up on its release day – 4 April), and I think you’d like Melina Marchetta as well. There’s no (from memory?) diverse rep in Marsden’s books, but if you like the book version of a 90’s action flick set in dystopian Australia, then these are the books you are looking for!!

      Liked by 1 person

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