China gets an unfair deal in my book-from-every-country project. In reading a book from every country, China gets just over 0.5% representation, whereas its population represents 19% of the world’s population.
India is only slightly less under-represented with 17.4% of the world’s population. I don’t feel quite as bad about India though because I read a reasonable number of India-related books in addition to the one I read for this project.
So I was pleased to discover a few months ago a list by another blogger reading a book from every country showing what it would look like to read the world in proportion to population (http://world80books.blogspot.com/2014/04/read-world-proportionally.html). For a list of 100 books, that works out to:
19 books from China;
17 from India;
4 from the US;
3 from Indonesia, Brazil and Pakistan;
2 from Nigeria, Bangladesh, Japan and Mexico, and
1 each from the Philippines, Vietnam, Ethiopia, Egypt, Germany, Iran, Turkey, DRC, Thailand, France, UK, Italy, Burma, South Africa, South Korea, Colombia, Spain, Ukraine, Tanzania, Kenya, Argentina, Algeria, Poland, Sudan, Uganda, Canada, Iraq, Morocco, Peru, Uzbekistan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Nepal, Afghanistan, Yemen, North Korea, Ghana, Mozambique, Australia and Taiwan.
The list also attempts to be proportional in terms of gender representation and ethnicities within countries. I think it’s a great alternative approach to reading the world.
Of course, it does mean that entire regions of the world- Oceania, the Caribbean, the Balkans get left out. Maybe one could combine approaches. How many books would you have to read, to read the world proportionally and still include one book for tiny Nauru?
720,965. Of which 136,983 should be about China and 1 about Nauru. If you’re including Vatican City amongst your countries, the situation is 10 times worse!
If you’re willing compromise and find a single travelogue covering Nauru, Tuvalu and Palau, that makes San Marino the smallest country and brings the total number of books needed down to only 219,689.
I think I’ll stick to my original plan of one book per country! But I may try to fit a few more Chinese books into my reading diet.
(My calculations are based on this Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population)
Update: Following up on the suggestion below to use logarithms, I’ve written a new post calculating how to read the world in 629 books.