Posted by: biblioglobal | July 2, 2012

Old favorites

I made the decision when starting my book-from-every-country project that I wouldn’t count books that I had already read. I think that was a good decision, but there are some wonderful books that I have read in the past that I feel a bit sad not to be able to include. To make myself feel better, I’ve decided to make a list of some favorite books from other countries that I would include if I could.

Afghanistan: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

A fairly obvious choice.

Antigua and Barbuda: A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid

A beautifully written memoir about life on Antigua. It’s one of the few books I’ve read as a class assignment that I’ve truly loved.

Dominican Republic: In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez

Reading it as a teenager, this book opened my eyes to the impact of political oppression in the world.

France: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

Another fairly obvious choice.

Hungary: The Good Master/The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy

Children’s books about growing up in Hungary in the early 20th century. The Singing Tree is set during WWI.

Israel: The Nimrod Flipout by Etgar Kerat

Brilliant often surrealist short stories. (I saw Etgar Kerat speak and got him to sign a book for me. He included a picture of a parachuting sheep!)

Italy: Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

An unusual book in which each chapter is a page or two describing the unique characteristics of an imaginary city.

Japan: Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto.

A beautifully lonely and poetic novella.

Norway: Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder

All of western philosophy in one novel.


  1. I’ve only read a couple of these, but I go back to what I said earlier – if you do re-read them or once you’re done with your goal you can just add books to the countries as it’s a convenient way of cataloging them.

    Do you have a book for Ireland yet? If you don’t, I would recommend At Swim, Two Boys it’s about the 1916 Easter Rising. It’s one of the most beautiful novels I’ve ever read.

    • On my list now too – thanks Geoff

    • Ooh, I don’t have a book for Ireland yet. Thanks for the recommendation!

      I think I will go ahead at some point and add these books to my list. You’re right, they deserve to be cataloged.

  2. I decided that too and also mind that previosuly loved books can’t count. I decided that once I have a new book under a country’s name, I am going to add others too – either previously loved or additional ones I read from that country.
    this list of yours is a good one to have – thanks

    • That sounds like a good approach. Perhaps I will do that too.

  3. No book from India!? I would recommend Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie, or The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.
    Also from Ireland you could think abput including Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle.

    Lived your blog BTW. Following you now!
    Please do visit my book blog, and if you like it, please follow 🙂

    • That does seem like a bit of an oversight, doesn’t it? I actually left India out of this list because, like the U.S. and U.K., I’ve read enough books from India that there is no single book that stands out to me. I definitely enjoyed The God of Small Things and I’m actually midway through Midnight’s Children now. I’m enjoying it, but I got distracted by other books. For my India book for this project I read Behind the Beautiful Forevers, which was quite fascinating (though written by an American author).

      I had followed your blog at one point and then I think you moved. Thanks for the reminder to revisit.

  4. What a nice idea to read from every country….and thank you for reminding me to “invisible cities”, I have so many books on my list… I forgot that book was long on my list.

    • Thanks, it’s been a fun project so far! Invisible Cities is quite a interesting and unique book and it’s a quick read.

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