Book Challenge 2017 and beyond… ‘Read the UK’ with Abbie from @Bbrilliantbooks


Just on a whim, I posed the question the other day as to whether it was possible to read my way around the whole of mainland UK. I hadn’t really given it a lot of thought, but as spend a large portion of the year driving around the country, I thought it would be interesting to see if you could do the same in books.

I’ve noticed a wide variety of locations in the books I read, many of them American for sure, but a large number also set in the UK. There is a fascination with major cities such as London, Edinburgh and Glasgow, and as I read a lot of crime I’d probably expect that. Crime does tend to be more prevalent in areas of urban sprawl. But there are many stories set outside of these cities, a good number of which I have probably read or intend to read.

So would this challenge work? I’ve been reliably informed by @tripfiction that this is possible and they do have links to many books on their website So the question is, can I do it?

Having looked up UK counties (ignoring islands and NI for now as I want it to be places I could drive to without assistance of ferries and the like) there are apparently 86 of the delightful little things to be found. I am also excluding political district territories such as the one I live in. It’s not a county, just an excuse for yet another politician we don’t need.

I think I have the full list below but if I am missing any or any are wrong (this was from Wikipedia after all) please let me know. Also if you have book suggestions I am all ears and any and all are welcome. I see this as a long term goal, something to tick off as I go rather than trying to ace it in a year as I would never get round to reading books I want to or have promised for review if I did. So many are set in the same places I would end up duplicating myself and never moving forward. I have also convinced Abbie over at Bloomin’ Brilliant Books to join me in this foolish quest – will be nice to have some company on the journey.

County Durham
East Lothian
East Sussex
East Yorkshire
Mid Glamorgan
North Yorkshire
South Glamorgan
South Gloucestershire
South Humberside
South Yorkshire
Tyne and Wear
West Glamorgan
West Lothian
West Midlands
West Sussex
West Yorkshire

So. I am currently in Cambridgeshire reading ‘Watch Her Disappear‘ by Eva Dolan. Only 85 to go…

What do you think? Can we do this? Any book suggestions for us? Should we include London boroughs or just the city as a whole? Should we venture in NI too? And does anyone else want to join us in this madness?

Wish us luck.

Happy Reading All


(Image copyright: Volina/Shutterstock)

55 thoughts on “Book Challenge 2017 and beyond… ‘Read the UK’ with Abbie from @Bbrilliantbooks

  1. Yay glad to see this spawned into something!
    Aberdeenshire & Banffshire can be ticked off with Logan McRae books. Though I wondered why you have Aberdeenshire & not Aberdeen City? I thought the City was classed as county too?

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  2. This is such a cool idea. Rachel Abbotts books are all set in Stockport, Cheshire if that helps? I live in Cheshire and when I’m reading it and I know where she’s talking about it makes the experience so much more real πŸ™‚

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    1. Thanks. There are so many different places you don’t even realise. So many are set in big cities like London it’s easy to forget the rest of the UK still exists. I think this will be an interesting challenge.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Good luck with it! I’ll watch with interest … (I see you have Cambridgeshire covered but a couple of my books are partly set in Northamptonshire – The Wedding Proposal and Uphill All the Way. The Christmas Promise is mainly London. Want to Know a Secret? is Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire.)

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  4. Hey you two, I couldn’t help but notice your challenge and thought I’d chip in with a suggestion – “The County Guides” by Ian Sansom. There are only three available at the moment (I think?)! I’ve only read The Norfolk Mystery where the main character was an irritating professor / Latin fiend, but you *might* like to keep them in reserve? Good luck! x

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  5. A great idea! And definitely a challenge. πŸ™‚

    The counties thing is always difficult, and I can see why you have opted for the smallest number. For example, the political counties list in Wales is quite different (e.g. Dyfed hasn’t existed for many years; Ceredigion is one of the replacements –

    If you are stuck for ones in Wales, I have two books set here.

    Wales>Dyfed = Harvest Festival
    (though technically it is Ceredigion/Powys, on the border)

    Wales>Isle of Anglesey = Turner
    (Though I note you said you wouldn’t include island counties – shame, I’ve always been a fan of island fiction, ever since I wrote an extended essay on it in college)

    The England counties (for politics/addresses) can be found at, but again I can understand why you have simplified it! I have written books set strongly in the county of Greater Manchester (which is separate from Yorkshire et al). I’m not sure where that would fall in a simplified list of counties. Anyway, whichever county you included GM in, I have two books set there, where the region has an identity and influence on the characters.

    Cold Fusion 2000
    2000 Tunes

    Best of luck achieving it, I hope to see coloured-in maps with the posts as you work your way around the UK!

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  6. What a brilliant idea. Jenny Harper writes books set in East Lothian. One I read and enjoyed recently was Mistakes We Make. Jackie Baldwin’s Dead Man’d Prayer would cover Dumfriesshire. Ali Bacon’s A Kettle of Fish begins in Fife. Helen MacKinven’s Talk of the Toun is set in Falkirk which is in Stirlingshire. You’ll be spoiled for choice for Edinburgh!

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    1. Brilliant. Thanks Joanne. I’ll look them all up. Already have the Jackie Baldwin one so I’ll have to bump it up my reading list. Can tackle my other resolution to beat my personal TBR list.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. An interesting challenge – am I allowed to suggest my book with Susan Pape, A Falling Friend, for the West Yorkshire leg of the trip?

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    1. Any suggestions welcomed. We’re going to do this piecemeal i.e. record the counties as we come to them but I’m certain we’ll have gaps to fill too.


  8. What a brilliant idea. My novel, The Sender, is partly based in Cambridge if that is of any interest to you. The story moves through Edinburgh, Glasgow, Cambridge and York. Good luck with all your reading. What an epic journey! πŸ™‚

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  9. Hi Jen, What an incredible idea – looking forward to reading reviews of all the authors you include in this. I don’t know if it’s permitted (or will be thought of as cheeky) to suggest my own books for Ayrshire – they are rooted in a feud that ran for 150 years, referred to as the Ayrshire Vendetta. The feud involved two prominent families, the Cunninghames and the Montgomeries, later dubbed the Montagues and Capulets of Ayrshire.

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    1. Hi. Thanks for this. All suggestions very much welcomed as I’m sure there will come a point where our TBR lists fail us and we’re looking for certain counties. I honestly don’t think we’ve had an Ayrshire yet so I’ll pop them on our list. πŸ˜€


  10. Providing you haven’t already read them, here are a few suggestions:
    “Gallow’s view” by Peter Robinson (Yorkshire Dales)
    “The crossing places” by Elly Griffiths (Norfolk)
    “The white shepherd” by Annie Dalton (Oxfordshire)
    “Weathering” by Lucy Wood (Dorset)
    “Daisy in chains” by Sharon Bolton (Somerset)
    “Black Rabbit Hall” by Eve Chase (Cornwall)

    I could go on and on.
    I loved all of these titles.
    Have fun with your challenge.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. This is going to take you a long time! I can recommend ‘Behind the Scenes at the Museum’ by Kate Atkinson for York, and my own ‘Ignoring Gravity’ for Wimbledon, London.

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