I’ve set out on an adventure of reading a book from every country in the world. A list of the books I’ve read so far can be found here. I’m pretty flexible about rules:

  1.  A book can count for a particular country if it is either set in that country or written by an author from that country (or both).
  2. Only books that I’ve read in December 2011 or later will count. No retroactive countries! (Though I may make an exception for Kiribati. I’ve read a pretty good book set in Kiribati and it claimed that all the other books written about Kiribati were quite boring.)

Outside of the rules, I do have some general patterns. I’m reading a variety of different kinds of books- fiction, non-fiction, and in-between. I’m not opposed to the occasional travelogue. I take a casual approach and try not to plan too far ahead what book I will read. I look for books that will tell me something new about a particular country and I don’t worry too much about whether a book is The Best/Most Famous Book From X Country. I only have reading knowledge of English, so I am limited to books which have been written in or translated into English. In general, I mostly tend towards modern/contemporary books because I’m most interested in learning the relatively recent history and culture of each country.

If you have a suggestion (particularly for countries for which it is harder to find books), please let me know.



  1. Random question: Do you read books which fall outside of this challenge? I have some reading challenges set for myself as well, but frequently get distracted by other books, or books given to me by well-intentioned friends. Do you ignore all “outside” reading distractions or do you occasionally veer off into works which don’t fall within the parameters of your challenge?

    • Oh, I definitely read things outside of this challenge! I figure it will take me around 10 years to finish and there’s no way I would give up on reading everything else for so long. I’ve decided to only write posts about books for the project because I’m slower at writing than reading and I don’t want to feel like I have to write about every book I read.

      I did write about the book Poor Economics because it seemed very relevant and it was an amazing book that I wanted to share with other people. I will probably continue to do that occasionally and I may also post about additional books that I read from countries that I have already covered.

      • O.k. that’s good to know. You have undertaken a pretty intense reading challenge, so it’s interesting to hear how you manage it. I think it’s good that you also read other things that interest you…I find that it helps me to take a break from my challenges sometimes and recharge with other things.

  2. What a wonderful idea! “I only have reading knowledge of English, so I am limited to books which have been written in English.” Does this mean you don’t read translated books?
    And thank you for following!

    • Oops, I should have written that more clearly! I definitely do read translated books. (Now editing that sentence to read”books which have been written in or translated to English”)

      • I thought so! Otherwise this challenge would be quite…challenging. 🙂

  3. Some suggestions:

    Afghanistan – A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
    Algeria – Ahlam Mosteghanemi (writer)
    Argentina – Jorge Luis Borge (writer)
    Brazil – Paulo Coelho (writer)
    Cuba – My Life by Fidel Castro
    France – Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
    Germany – The Night of the Generals by Hans Hellmut Kirst / Alone in Berlin by Hans Fallada
    Greece – Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis / Nights Of Rain And Stars by Maeve Binchy
    Ireland – Ulysses by James Joyce
    Italy – The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
    Jordan – Fadia Faqir (writer)
    Lebanon – Khalil Gibran (writer)
    Russia – Fyodor Dostoyevsky / Mikhail Bulgakov (writers)
    Saudi Arabia – Don’t Be Sad by Aaidh Ibn Abdullah Al-Qarni
    Spain – Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
    Tunisia – Aboul-Qacem Echebbi (poet)
    UK – Ian Rankin/Agatha Christie/Charles Dickens/Geoffrey Chaucer (writers)
    USA – The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzferald / The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

    Enjoy! =)

    • Wow, thanks for all the suggestions! Some of the books/authors I have read or am familiar with but others, like your suggestions for Jordan and Algeria, are entirely new to me.

      • Glad you found them useful. I have a few more suggestions:

        Bosnia and Herzegovina – How The Soldier Repairs The Gramophone by Saša Stanišić
        India – Homi K. Bhabha (writer)
        South Africa – Nadine Gordimer (writer)
        Sweden – Pär Lagerkvist
        Trinidad and Tobago – Raymond Ramcharitar (poet/writer) / Keith Jardim (writer)

        Enjoy! =)

  4. What a super idea and challenge! I back tracked to here from your comment on my site (thanks!) and now that I have found you I will be pleased to follow your postings. However, I note your list of countries omits Scotland. I understand why, but with our own literature and history and now parliament, it would be an awful pity if a Scottish title could not be included. (We Scots are notorious for our special pleading!) I’ll be happy to suggest a title or two if you feel your rules can be bent a little to accommodate us. 😉 Norman

    • Well, if Scotland votes for independence I’ll formally add it to my list! Alternatively, I have a vague intention to eventually include locations such as Palestine and Vatican City, which aren’t UN member countries, so Scotland could fall there.

      Regardless, I’d certainly be interested to hear your suggestions for a Scottish book or two.

  5. Hey there,
    I have sure added your blog to my blog list.
    I do blog about African Literature. Please visit my blog and have a look.



    • Thanks for stopping by! Your blog is full of books that I’ve been thinking about reading, so I’ll definitely be following it as well.

  6. Sounds like a fine idea to me, cannot imagine that you will run out of countries the way the maps a re being redrawn by politics… 😀
    Best wishes!

    • I certainly anticipate that there will be some extra countries added before I am done. Which are the most likely I wonder? Scotland? Western Sahara? Palestine? Probably someplace I wouldn’t expect at all!

      • But there is a whole back catalogue too; Nyassaland, Rhodesia, Palestine etc etc – never ending: Mission Impossible 8.5 perhaps?

      • I had thought much about previously existing countries. That would be hard even to come up with a list, let alone the books themselves!

  7. Hi! I’ve nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award. I have appreciated reading your thought-provoking content. If you’re interested in participating, you can see the rules here: http://misfortuneofknowing.wordpress.com/2012/11/12/a-lovely-interruption-to-regular-content/

  8. Not sure if you have already heard of them, but there are two beautiful books from my home country, Brazil, called ‘1808’ and ‘1822’, which tell incredible stories about Brazil’s history. They are written in Portuguese, though, and I’m not 100% sure if there are English translations. Nevertheless, two very good reads!


    • I took a quick look, but it doesn’t look like they’ve been translated. It’s often surprising how many things don’t get translated. Thanks for the suggestion though.

  9. Of course I love what you are doing; reading the world. Looking forward to reading about new books and hollering when you review a book that i’ve read or intend to.

    • Thanks! I’m very much enjoying reading your blog. Your recent posts about language in particular really made me think.

  10. What a unique and interesting project! Your current country and reading list is impressive. All the best for your endeavor!

    • Thanks! It’s going to take me a while, but it’s a lot of fun!

  11. Recent book: By Night the mountain burns, from Juan Tomás Ávila Laureal, writer from Equatorial Guinea

    • Thanks for the suggestion, I’ve added it to my reading list!

  12. I am thrilled to have discovered your blog! I absolutely love your idea. I’d like to even follow in your footsteps, maybe when my life settles down a bit more. I have long wanted to systematically study every country in the world, but I’d never thought of reading a book from each country! My mind is blown! Thank you for making my day!!

    • I’m glad to hear you are enjoying my blog! It has been a fun adventure so far. I like the idea of studying each country too. Reading books set in each country almost always results in me reading more about that country. (At least looking up the Wikipedia page!) It would be neat to be more systematic about it.

  13. Thank You for stopping by!! I love your blog and ambition…what could be more liberating than reading and that too reading about the world without limiting yourself to a-type literature….Very inspiring!!

  14. This is so inspiring….Your reading is like truly letting go and expanding beyond geographical/literary boundaries…I am so looking forward to reading some of the books in your list!! Also a big thank you for stopping by my blog!!

    • I’m so glad I checked my spam folder. For some reason your comments ended up there. I’m glad you’re enjoying my blog! I look forward to reading more of your blog also.

      • Yeah!!! I know something went wrong…but thank you for the kind words…I too am really looking forward to reading a lot of different stuff …thanks to you!! 🙂

  15. Hey, it’s great to meet another person interested in the very wide world literature. I’m not bound to English only, but for now I have to rely on books in Polish from local library. Hopefully maybe I’ll be able to read some of the books on your list.

    I made a challenge of reading the books from various countries, but I’ll revise the rules and new edition will start in January 2015. Maybe you’d be interested in joining.

    If you need some inspiration by country (but not just books) from what I saw/read in 2014, you can find it here. https://forculturessake.wordpress.com/2014-lists/2014-by-authors-country/ Yet I’d suggest using country tags, as I don’t have a list for 2013, when I started the blog.

    Brazil – definitely Clarice Lispector’s The Hour of The Star.
    Czech – Josef Nesvadba was translated into English.
    Poland – I’d suggest Stanislav Lem, a classic of science-fiction. Best known works are probably Solaris and Futurological Congress, both had adaptations. Congress is more oriented on Earthly issues, so I’d suggest that.
    Russia – Michail Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita. One of my favourite books ever. 😀
    South Africa – Heartland (by Jann Turner) isn’t the best book but it was an interesting read. Set after the apartheid has officially ended but not for people in a certain small valley. 😉

    Have fun reading! 🙂

    • I’m always excited to find others who are reading globally too. I find it frustrating when books haven’t been translated into English. That must be even more of a challenge when you’re relying on books translated into Polish!

      Thanks for all your suggestions. I like the idea of reading some Stanislaw Lem for Poland. I’ve wanted to read some of his work, but I somehow hadn’t thought of reading it for my book-from-every-country project!

      • Actually, there are some books that have (or had) Polish translations before English ones. Belarusian writer Ihar Babkou’s book, for example, or even some South Korean books. A lot of books have been translated into Polish. Sure, things like Kiribati etc. are (I think) impossible to get in Polish, but I don’t think it’s too bad generally. Except, I’m using mostly local libraries, which makes it even more difficult. 😛

        The local libraries for adults sort books (general fiction) by author’s country, so it’s easy to search. That’s why I came up with the idea for A to Z reading challenge.

        Have fun reading Lem. Let’s discuss his books too. I just read 3 stories (all on blog) but I’m eager to read more. 😛

      • That’s a good point. The rate amount of translation into English is lower than for a lot of other languages. English just has the advantage of being the starting language for so many books.

        That’s really convenient that your library is organized by country! The fiction in my local public library is organized alphabetically. The university library more or less groups literature by country, which means that I sometimes come home with more than one book per country.

  16. What a great challenge, and a great idea for a blog. I love it!

    • Thanks! It has been a lot of fun so far. It’s great that you host an Around the World challenge and get lots of people reading globally!

  17. what a great blog, glad I found it! 🙂

    • Thank-you! Welcome! (I’m glad to have now found your blog also.)

  18. Hello. I love the picture. Where is it? All the best.

    • Unfortunately, I don’t know! I’m pretty sure it was just a default picture from WordPress, but I kept it because I liked it.

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