Posted by: biblioglobal | January 8, 2013

Books from 30 countries

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver marks the 30th book I have read for my book-from-every-country project, so it’s time for a summary post. When I hit 20 countries, I said I wanted to focus on reading books from some of the smaller and ‘harder’ countries. I did read a book from St. Kitts and Nevis, the smallest country in the Americas in both population and land area, as well as several other Caribbean island nations. Of course, I also read a book for the United States. I’m glad to have that one out of the way though. There were just too many options and too much temptation to try to find the ‘perfect’ book. The books I’ve picked for other countries are mostly just semi-random selections, whatever I came across that caught my attention. Why should the United States be any different?

The most memorable books in this batch were The Bone People by Keri Hulme (New Zealand) and The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng (Malaysia). The Bone People was the most intense reading experience I have had in a long time. At some points I loved it, at one point I was in tears, but by the end I was angry and disappointed. The Garden of Evening Mists was my favorite of this set, for its beauty, for its grappling with the challenges of healing and forgiveness, and for introducing me to a land I knew nothing about. Although it had some flaws in the writing, The Circle of Karma  (Bhutan) was effective in really immersing me in a very different culture.

In addition to having read from 30 countries, it has now been a year since I started this blog. Over the past year, the combination of my reading project and blogging about it has significantly changed how I read. For one thing, I’m much more deliberate about the books I read. While I still sometimes pick books up randomly, I more often seek out particular books that I have read about. I also spend more time thinking about the books I read in anticipation of writing about them. At the same time, I find myself getting a bit tired of writing up a post about each book. I’d like to find a way to mix things up a little bit and have more fun with it.

Where am I headed next? Right now I’m reading The Antelope Strategy, a non-fiction book about the survivors and the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide trying to figure out how to live together again.. After that, I’m not quite sure. I’ve built up quite a list of possible books by now, many of which I am excited to read. It’s high time I read something from South America. It might also be a good idea to get started on some of those Pacific Islands.

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Responses

  1. Interesting post. Please keep on writing, your posts are interesting to read. The Bone People is a novel very well praised, I see. Although, some people commented it was a difficult read. Any way, I have already kept it in mind. Cheers!

    • Certainly a difficult read and for me a frustrating one. But at the same time, I *think* it was worth it for the good bits.

  2. Congrats on the year of blogging! And don’t worry about the ‘slump’ you’ll find someway to spice things up. You could write creative poetry about the books or do photo essays solely with things in your house or something else like that 😀

    • Ha! Poetry. No.

      Though come to think about it, I did want to post about a book I read that consisted of 150 translations of the same haiku…

      • Wow that would be…interesting.

  3. Congrats on the year of blogging and on the 30 countries. I’ve mentioned that I have a copy of The Garden of Evening Mists and now I’ve bumped it closer to the top of my TBR. Happy reading and blogging.

    • Thanks! Enjoy!

      • I started the book this weekend. I’m only 70 pages in, but I’m loving it. One of the most beautiful books I’ve read in some time.

      • I’m glad you’re enjoying it!

  4. I still think this is a really cool project, and I like reading about all of the different books you find. I’m really guilty of getting stuck on books from the U.S./U.K., so I’m trying to sort of get out of that rut. Congratulations on a year of blogging!

    • Thanks, I really appreciate the encouragement!

      I hope that you find some interesting books from new places to read. Of course, there are so many good U.S./U.K books to read too!

  5. What a fascinating idea; to read a book from every country. Have you found a particular country or book that was especially wonderful?

    • I’ve found a lot of wonderful books! I find myself taking a particular interest in small countries that I didn’t know much about before- Azerbaijan for example. From reading Ali and Nino by Kurban Said, I learned that Azerbaijan is on the border between European and Middle Eastern culture and feels pulls in both directions. It’s one of those countries that is easy to forget, but quite fascinating when you get to know a little bit about it.

  6. Books from every country? That’s a truly admirable challenge! And very inspirational!

    • It’s definitely a long-term project!

  7. Love that you were moved by The Bone People, that is a book I would love to re-read and I am waiting for my friend to pass on The Gardens of Evening Mist, I read The Gift of Rain last year which is how I found my way back to you today (from your comment) and I can’t wait to read this next one. I have enjoyed everything of Barbara Kingsolver I’ve read, so will be sure to read this next one and great to see it on the Women’s Fiction Prize long list.

    Loving looking around your blog, I do enjoy cross cultural fiction and translations, they offer such wonderful journeys off the well trodden literary path.

    • I’m glad you enjoyed your visit to my blog!

      I was happy to see that The Garden of Evening Mists just won the Man Asian Literary prize. And I’m still looking forward to reading The Gift of Rain at some point.

      Flight Behavior is the only book from the Women’s Fiction Prize longlist that I’ve read as yet. I need to work on that!


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