Around the World In 80 Books: Scotland and Turkey

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Welcome to the next update in my Around the World in 80 Books challenge!  My goal is to read 80 books from 80 different countries/cultures in whatever dang time frame I please, all while spending under $20.  If you want to check out the first post, including a review of my read from England, you can do so here.

This time around I have two to review.  First up is:


I’ve been doing a ton of genealogy lately for the husband’s side.  And way, way, way back, he’s related to this family.  The author is a descendant, too. It includes a family history written by a family member long since deceased and a bunch of land records about some of the descendants up until a certain point.

This book is Game of Thrones meets Genesis.  If you’re not related to any Scotch Irish, you’re probably not interested.

The primary narrator, the long since deceased family member, starts with what might as well be the beginning of time for the Scottish people.  And then jumps to how they literally built a wall between the North and England to keep the British out.  How they knew the harsh lands well enough to evade the British when they tried to get it.  How his family used to live in castles and fight with neighbors and cousins over lordships back through a millennium, sometimes to the death.

And then it got even more interesting.  This family wasn’t about to give up their religion just because England was finally succeeding in tearing down Scotland’s independence during the Reformation.  They would have religious meetings in fields so they could defend against soldiers who would come to attack them as they worshipped.  They eventually left Scotland in the late 1600s rather than bend a knee and give up the way they revered God.  They went to Ireland, where they were given the worst land possible to farm.  But they were used to some pretty harsh land; they were from Scotland.  So they thrived.  And the Irish hated them for it.  This branch of the family wasn’t even there long enough to have babies before they went to the new world, that would eventually fight for and win independence from Great Britain.

But then they did have babies.  And those babies had babies and babies and babies until my husband was born.

I found this branch of his family’s story incredible.  I learned the the Scotch-Irish weren’t really Irish at all, and that a lot of them immigrated here and then later fought against the British power on a different continent.


In the early 1900s, Dr. Kunos transcribed these folk tales into the written word from the oral tradition.  On one hand, they display what life was like in the Ottoman Empire, which finally collapsed in the midst of WWI, becoming the country we know today as Turkey.  There’s talk of Padishahs and Allah and what we would call genies.  But true to Turkish form, the stories are also inundated with Western influence.  The structure of the stories themselves very much follow the hero format, rescuing the damsel in distress, and occasionally mirroring stories I grew up hearing.

The stories were mostly great, and totally worth the read.  But this was transcribed in the early 1900s; it’s also got some really awful racism in it. I hate to recommend staying away as I think a major thing that helps us learn to be better humans in the future is looking at our past mistakes, but I know it would be a major turn off to many people.  My jaw hit the floor so many times; it got so, so inappropriate and offensive at points.

On Deck.

I’m currently reading this book from Sierra Leon.  Well, about Sierra Leon.  From someone who lived it.  I’m limiting my reviews until I finish the books, though.

So far I’ve spent $0.  Scotland and England were free downloads, Turkey was a gift, and Sierra Leon I located at the library.

My other books in queue are:

Sweden: Roseanna by Maj Sjowall indirectly recommended by Northern Lights Reading Project
Norway: Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder  recommended by Poor Student
Israel:  Hope Street, Jerusalem by Iris Makler
Canada: The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be by Farley Mowat recommeded by Messy Money
Afghanistan: The Underground Girls of Kabul by Jenny Nordberg recommended by Savvy Working Gal
Nigeria: I Do Not Come to You by Chance by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani recommended by Guiltless Reader
Philippines: May Day Eve and Other Stories by Nick Joaquin recommended by Guiltless Reader
Mexico: The Five Levels of Attachment: Toltec Wisdom for the Modern World by Don Miguel Ruiz, Jr.

So that’s 12/80 selected!  Do you have any recommendations for me?  Leave them in the comments!

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13 thoughts on “Around the World In 80 Books: Scotland and Turkey

    1. femmefrugality Post author

      Well I’ve only tackled three so far, bit working on number four and eight more to go after that! And then 68 more to discover 🙂 I’m glad you’re liking the reviews! Means a lot!

  1. Kate Wilson (@kateowilson)

    What! I love this idea. I’m a huge bibliophile and will definitely have more recommendations for you once I get home to consult my bookshelf, but off the top of my head I would say that if you want to understand Sudan, Tayeb Salih is your man. Season of Migration to the North is very dark and biting, but a captivating read nonetheless. Again, fair warning on the darkness of his writing — I’ll follow up with some less doom and gloom suggestions later!

    1. femmefrugality Post author

      Will add to my shelf for sure! The one from Sierra Leon is the darkest I think I’ve read yet… really difficult and outside my norm. But not everything in this world is happy and sunshine. Looking forward to further recommendations!

  2. guiltlessreader (@guiltlessreader)

    I’m so glad you have two of my recs on the list! I’m excited to see what you think of them.

    Getting May Day Eve may be a challenge — I actually wanted to include it in my LitBlogHop Giveaway but couldn’t find anywhere to buy it. Btw, I am giving away short story collections — one of them is set in Hawaii. Maybe you’d consider This is Paradise? There are more — I have two set in Japan, another set in Africa (various countries), and one in Armenia. At any rate, pop by and you may win a copy!

    1. femmefrugality

      What can I say…you read good books! And that’s good to know about May Day Eve. I have a feeling it’ll take me a while to hit all 80, so I’m sure I’ll be able to figure out how to get my hands on it along the journey…hopefully! And awesome giveaway! Entered!

  3. momssmallvictories

    What different and interesting books you picked for Scotland and Turkey. Let’s see what can I recommend. Italy: AT Least You’re in Tuscany (nonfiction); India: Under the Jeweled Sky (historical fiction); France: Seven Letters from Paris (nonfiction romance); Sarah’s Key (historical fiction about the Holocaust so intense but good) and Germany: The Book Thief (also historical fiction about the Holocaust but so good), China: Slow Flower and the Secret Fan (historical fiction), Spain: Shadow of the Wind (fiction).

  4. Pingback: Around the World in 80 Books: Mexico and Sweden - Femme Frugality

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