Reading All Around the World
I've been wishing for a while for some sort of project that involves reading something from every country, but this is a tricky prospect, since it is not always easy to find books from some countries. Clearly this isn't something that will fit into a year-long challenge -- not for most of us! So Esther of Chapter Adventures and I got together and thought a more long-term, open-ended project would be a good plan. Esther designed this brilliant image!
The basic rules:
- Pick 50+ countries or go for the gold with all of them! The number depends on you.
- Sign up at the project page here.
- Read either fiction by a writer living in/from the country, OR a non-fiction book about it, such as memoir, history, culture, language.
- Tweet your posts with #readingallaround
- There are no time constraints. You can decide on a timeline, but don't worry if you don't make it. If you're going for the full list, I'd recommend five years at least to complete it.
- Keep track of your reading. Maybe fill in a list or build a Google map of all your books and countries. Maintain it at your blog and post about the books you read.
- When you finish a continent, grab one of the badges below! Put them on your blog for all to admire.
- When you reach your goal, celebrate!
The longer version:
Lots of us want to read our way around the world! Let's do it together. Since it's not easy to get a book from the Comoros or North Korea, our rules have to be somewhat flexible....
You may read literature by a person from the country, or non-fiction about the history, culture, language, etc. of the country. Fiction set in a country but not written by a person who lives there does not count, because we are trying to get an inside view as much as possible; in fact, you may wish to make an effort to choose books by long-term residents rather than by people who have moved there more recently and written about it, but that is entirely up to you because I am not your mother, nor am I here to judge fine distinctions. By no means does the book have to be new; if your choice for Japan is the 900-year-old Tale of Genji, that's great.
You do not have to plan your list ahead of time; I would advise you not to. Just make a list of the countries you plan to read in, and fill them in as you go along. This is an adventure, so don't pick all easy ones! Challenge yourself.
Since this is such a big project, I've decided to allow you to retroactively fill in slots for six months -- if you read a great novel from Azerbaijan five months ago and want to count it in this project, that is OK. No counting the French novel from five years ago, though! Six months is as far back as you can go from your join date.
There are badges, because we love badges! Thanks to the fantastic Esther for designing them, and find them at the end of this page.
Read in whatever language you prefer and if you can read something in the original, by all means do so. We can discuss the nuances of reading translated works and how nice it would be to be able to read Tolstoy and Tagore in the original, too.
Where can we find recommendations -- lists of books from around the world? There are lots. Here are a few, and you can also try googling: if you're looking for a book from Madagascar, searching on "Madagascar literature" will bring up some wonderful resources.
A juried list of Africa's 100 Best Books of the 20th Century, published in 2002
Ann Morgan's Year of Reading the World List has something from every country! These are mostly modern literature.
Goodreads' list of books by country
A Google Doc of books read for Women in Translation Month in 2016
If you have recommendations, by all means send them to me and I'll build a list for us all to consult.
Build a Google map if you like, and share it on your blog. It's pretty easy to do; here's the Howling Frog map.
How many countries are there? Good question! It depends on who you ask. As far as I'm concerned, you may define your own list. If you want to recognize Kosovo, Palestine and Taiwan as countries, do so; or don't. That's your responsibility, not mine. Here's a fairly exhaustive list of 197, which is 193 UN members, two observers (Vatican City, Palestine), and two territories (Kosovo, Taiwan) recognized by some folks but not others.
(As of May 2023: 88!)
- Algeria A Sister to Scheherazade, by Assia Djebar , The Plague, by Albert Camus
- Andorra: The Teacher of Cheops, by Albert Salvado
- Angola: The Book of Chameleons, by Jose Eduardo Agualusa
- Antigua and Barbuda: Annie John, by Jamaica Kincaid
- Argentina -- The Seven Madmen, by Roberto Arlt, The Aleph and Other Stories, by Jorge Juis Borges
- Armenia: Three Apples Fell From the Sky, by Narine Abgaryan
- Australia -- The Biggest Estate on Earth, by Bill Gammage, Cloudstreet, by Tim Winton, Dark Emu, by Bruce Pascoe
- Azerbaijan: Ali and Nino, by Kurban Said
- Bangladesh -- A Golden Age, by Tahmima Anam
- Belarus -- Voices From Chernobyl, by Svetlana Alexievich
- Belgium -- Cathedral of Mist, by Paul Willems
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Botswana: The Heart of the Hunter, by Laurens van der Post
- Bulgaria: Bai Ganyo, by Aleko Konstantinov, Everything Happens As it Does, by Albena Stambolova,
- Burkina Faso
- Burma (Myanmar): Burmese Moons (graphic novel)
- Burundi: Baho! by Roland Rugero
- Cabo Verde
- Cambodia: To Destroy You Is No Loss, by Teeda Butt Mam and Joan Criddle
- Cameroon: Essential Encounters, by Therese Kuoh-Moukoury
- Canada: The Summer Tree, by Guy Gavriel Kay (Fionavar Tapestry)
- Central African Republic (CAR)
- Chile: Seeing Red, by Lina Meruane
- China: Selected Stories of Lu Hsun
- Democratic Republic of the Congo: Tram 83, by Fiston Mwanza Mujila
- Republic of the Congo: Jazz and Palm Wine, by Emmanuel Dongala
- Costa Rica
- Cote d'Ivoire: Suns of Independence, by Ahmadou Kourouma
- Croatia: Girl at War, by Sara Novic
- Cuba: Map Drawn by a Spy, by Guillermo Cabrera Infante
- Czechia: The Widow Killer, by Pavel Kohout, Walpurgisnacht, by Gustav Meyrink, Harlequin's Millions, by Bohumil Hrabal
- Denmark: Marie Grubbe, by J. P. Jacobsen
- Dominican Republic
- Egypt: Isis, by Nawaal El Saadawi
- El Salvador
- Equatorial Guinea
- Estonia: Purge, by Sofi Oksanen
- Finland: Letters from Klara, by Tove Jansson
- France: Treasure of the City of Ladies, by Christine de Pizan , The Man in the Iron Mask, by Alexandre Dumas,
- Georgia: The Brueghel Moon, by Tamar Chiladze, The Hand of a Great Master, by Konstanineh Gamsakhardia
- Germany : Steppenwolf, by Hermann Hesse, The Glass Bead Game, by Hermann Hesse, Undine and other Stories by La Motte Fouque
- Ghana: Wife of the Gods, by Kwei Quartey
- Greece: The Scapegoat, by Sophia Nikolaidou
- Guatemala: The Popol Vuh
- Guinea: The Dark Child, by Camara Laye
- Guinea-Bissau: The Ultimate Tragedy, by Abdulai Sila
- Hungary: Black Renaissance, by Miklos Szentkuthy
- Iceland: Old Norse Women's Poetry: the Voices of Female Skalds, by Sandra Ballif Straubhaar
- India: Untouchable, by Mulk Raj Anand; Train to Pakistan, by Khushwant Singh; One Night @ the call Center, by Chetan Bhagat
- Indonesia: This Earth of Mankind, by Pramoedya Ananta Toer; A Child of All Nations, by Toer; Footsteps, by Toer; House of Glass
- Iran: Women Without Men, by Shahrnush Parsipur
- Ireland: The Third Policeman, by Flann O'Brien
- Israel: Tunnels, by Ruta Modan
- Japan: Rashomon and other stories, by Ryunsuke Akutagawa, The Sea and Poison, by Shusaku Endo, Kappa, by Ryunsuke Akutagawa, Amrita, by Banana Yoshimoto,
- Jordan: Pillars of Salt, by Fadia Faqir
- Kenya: Minutes of Glory and Other Stories, by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o
- Kosovo: Frozen Time, by Anna Kim
- Kyrgyzstan: Jamilia, by Chingiz Aitmatov
- Latvia: I Grew Up in Latvia, by Zigrid Vidners
- Lebanon -- Autumn Equinox, by Jabbour Douaihy
- Liberia: She Would Be King, by Wayetu Moore
- Lithuania: The Book Smugglers, by David Fishman
- Madagascar: Beyond the Rice Fields, by Taivo
- Malaysia: The Girl and the Ghost, by Hanna Alkaf
- Marshall Islands: Marshall Islands Legends and Stories, coll. by Daniel Kelin II
- Mexico: The Underdogs, by Mariano Azuela
- Mongolia: The Blue Sky, by Galsan Tschinag, The Gray Earth, by Galsan Tschinag
- Montenegro: The Dawning, by Milka Bajic Poderegin
- Mozambique: The First Wife, by Paulina Chiziane
- New Zealand: Witi Ihimaera: His Best Stories, by Witi Ihimaera, Whale Rider, by Witi Ihimaera
- Nigeria: My Sister, the Serial Killer, by Oyinkan Braithwaite, The Palm-Wine Drinkard, by Amos Tutuola, The Bride Price, by Buchi Emecheta , Forest of a Thousand Daemons, by D. O. Fagunwa
- North Korea: The Accusation, by Bandi
- Norway: Four Stories by Sigrid Undset
- Oman: Celestial Bodies, by Jodka Alharthi
- Pakistan: Short stories in Urdu
- Papua New Guinea
- Philippines: The Woman With Two Navels and Tales of the Tropical Gothic, by Nick Joaquin
- Poland: The Faithful River, by Stefan Zeromski, Pan Tadeusz, by Adam Mickiewicz, The Glatstein Chronicles, by Jacob Glatstein
- Romania: For Two Thousand Years, by Mihail Sebastian
- Russia: My Universities, by Maxim Gorky, There Once Lived a Mother Who Loved Her Children, by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, The Foundation Pit, by Andrei Platonov, Boris Godounov, by Pushkin, Secondhand Time, by Svetlana Alexievich (USSR),
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Lucia
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- San Marino
- Sao Tome and Principe
- Saudi Arabia: Tales of the Marvelous and News of the Strange: Medieval Arabic Stories
- Sierra Leone: Radiance of Tomorrow, by Ishmael Beah
- Slovenia: Alamut, by Vladimir Bartol
- Solomon Islands
- South Africa: Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah
- South Korea: And So Flows History, by Hahn Moo-Sook, Samguk Yusa, by Ilyon (both Koreas really, but concentrates on Silla which was in the south)
- South Sudan
- Spain: Silence of the White City, by Eva Garcia Saenz
- Sri Lanka
- Sudan: Lyrics Alley, by Leila Aboulela, Season of Migration to the North, by Tayeb Salih
- Sweden: The Sibyl, by Par Lagerkvist, The Wonderful Adventures of Nils, by Selma Lagerlof
- Switzerland: The Treasure Chest, by Johann Peter Hebel
- Syria: Guest House for Young Widows, by Azadeh Moavani
- Tibet (bonus!) -- Old Demons, New Deities, ed. by Tenzin Dickie
- Trinidad and Tobago
- Turkmenistan: Death of the Snake Catcher, by Ak Welsapar
- Ukraine: White Guard, by Mikhail Bulgakov
- United Arab Emirates (UAE)
- United Kingdom (UK): The Go-Between, by L. P. Hartley
- United States of America (USA) : Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
- Vatican City (Holy See)
- Vietnam: Paradise of the Blind, by Duong Thu Huong
- Zimbabwe: The Book of Memory, by Petina Gappah, Zenzele, by J. Nozipo Maraire
Good luck and may the Force be with you! We'll all need it.
Ah, fun. I'm thinking about it. My concern is coming up with books I want to read from fifty countries. I need to get some ideas.ReplyDelete
I use this list to find books from a specific country. https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1152745-where-we-ve-been-previous-years-master-listReplyDelete
Join me, Ruth! :DReplyDelete
Heather, thanks for the tip! I'm stealing that one.
I just heard about this and I am excited to sign up!ReplyDelete
I'm so excited for this! If I could make a small suggestion - maybe put the linkup further up in the post so people don't have to scroll all the way down for it? Maybe under the "Basic Rules" section (the last bullet could be "Link up below if you wish" or something)ReplyDelete
Just a thought - you might get more links that way.
Lory, I was thinking the same thing this morning; so I agree! :)ReplyDelete
This sounds really cool, and right up my alley! I'm in! Let me figure out how I'm going to track on my blog, and I'll be back to sign up. Thanks for this Jean!ReplyDelete
I just signed up. I put your pic on my blog post, so please let me know if it's ok. This sounds like a tonne of fun!! With Atlas in my Blog name, how could I not participate?! I found this from Cleo, isn't she a doll?ReplyDelete
I started a project like this last year, got over 100 countries already. Have fun reading, and if you need some inspiration, go to https://spockisworld.wordpress.com/worldbookproject/ReplyDelete
I wonder... is it too late to sign up? I know I am about a year behind everyone else, but since it's an open-ended challenge, maybe I can still jump in.ReplyDelete
It's never too late! This is such a giant project, there is no deadline. :)ReplyDelete
Too late to join in with this? I embarked on my own project with the same goal of 50 a few years ago - currently am at 41 countries completed.ReplyDelete
Perfect, sign me up please Jean :)ReplyDelete
My project page is here. https://bookertalk.com/world-of-literature-project/
I'll update it with your graphic which is much better than mine....
For Belgium my vote goes to Chapel Road by Louis Paul Boon.ReplyDelete