List of countries

A list of U.N. member countries and the books that I have read in my project of reading a book from every country:



  1. oooh – i want to do this too. i am going to start this challenge too. thank you
    how exciting
    does the author, the story or the place of writing have to be from the country do you think?
    and now you have a reason to read Honour – and tick Turkey off

    • Excellent!

      You can, of course, set your own rules for what books qualify. My personal rule is to be flexible and to include books that are either written by someone from that country or are set in that country.

      I actually have Snow by Orhan Pamuk sitting on the hold shelf at the library waiting for me to pick it up. So that will probably be my book for Turkey. But I definitely now want to read something by Elif Shafak as well. Limiting myself to one book per country is surprisingly hard!

  2. A cool project. If you ever got stuck in Malaysia or Singapore, I can help you with that. I like Caliph’s House a lot. Glad you read it.

    • Thanks. I haven’t come across books for those countries yet, so that will likely be very helpful..

  3. What a great project. I am doing something of the same, but I have gotten too interested in some countries, like Australia and Ghana, to move on.

    • I can definitely understand wanting to focus on particular countries. Once I read one book from a country I frequently find myself wanting to read more. My plan is to focus on covering all of the countries, but also to read more when I want to. (For example, I loved Half of a Yellow Sun so much that I read Chinamanda Ngozi Adichie’s other books too. And now I want to read more about Nigeria…)

  4. your list is interesting. For the Congo, I have a suggestion. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver….its set in the Belgian Congo during the 60s and its the story of an American missionary family….very very powerful book.

  5. And for Kenya, The Wizard of the Crow by Ngugi wa Thiongo….The Author is Kenyan living in the US. the novel is set in an imaginary post-colonial African nation.

    • Thanks for your suggestions. I read The Poisonwood Bible before I started this project, so I can’t count it. I agree, it’s definitely a powerful book. I’m at the end of a long waiting list at the library for Barbara Kingsolver’s latest book. I’ve been thinking of reading The Wizard of the Crow for Kenya, so it’s good to hear a vote for it. I’ll try to get to it soon!

    • We have interests in common so am delighted that you followed my site because now it means i have found you. If you come across something for São Tomé let me know because I am struggling……

      • I really enjoyed looking through your blog and look forward to reading more! The only book I have marked for Sao Tome is Ecuador by Miguel Sousa Tavares. He is Portuguese, but the book is set in Sao Tome. I don’t know if you would ‘count’ that or not.

  6. Your challenge is so amazing. I would love to be able to do that, but I fear I’ll fall in love with a particular region or country and never be able to move on from that. I’ve actually been wanting to read novels from the Caribbean, so would be interested to know which ones you read from there.

    • There are definitely places I want to go back to and read more about. At some point I think that I will spend some time delving deeper into particular countries. Plus there are a bunch of authors I’m interested in reading that are from countries I’ve already ‘visited’.

      I’ve got three books from the Caribbean that I have read and need to review. Coming soon!

  7. What a great idea! I’m making this one of my reading goals as well. By the way, for France, there are so many amazing choices out there, but if you want to go a bit off the “beaten path”, I would recommend Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky. It’s about (and was even written during!) the fleeing of Paris before the Nazi invasion. It’s one that you never want to end!

    • There certainly is a lot of great French literature out there and I have read embarrassingly little of it! My plan has been to read Life: A User’s Manual by Perec mostly because I find the idea intriguing. But I just looked up Suite Francaise and the story of how it came to be published. Wow. That looks like a great suggestion, thanks.

  8. […] List of countries […]

  9. I love this list. We seem to have similar taste in books, so I’m going to follow your blog! 🙂 I myself have sort of similar goal, but I’m going super slow, and have not been actively pursuing books from new countries for a while. Maybe it’s about time I refresh my page and refocus.

    ps: On this list I went straight to Indonesia (since that’s where I grew up in) and saw you’ve read The Rainbow Troops – which is a very popular book there so I’m glad you did read it (I haven’t, but I really should.)

    • Thanks! I’m trying to stay on track to finish in 10 years, so it’s definitely a long-term project.

      Rainbow Troops was fun. I picked it because I read about how popular it was in Indonesia. I haven’t read any of the sequels though. Do you have any favorite Indonesian books you would recommend?

      • I have not read Indonesian books for a long time, but this one is on my list: The Buru Quartet by Pramoedya Ananta Toer. It seems to be the most well known work from Indonesia outside of the country!

      • That looks really interesting. How fascinating that it was written by telling it orally to other prisoners when Toer was imprisoned!

  10. Really brave! I didn’t dare go for the whole world from the beginning. Decided to start with a baby step and develop the plan eventually 🙂
    Way to go!

    • That’s a perfectly good approach also. When I started, I wasn’t sure how far I would get, but I seem to have a good bit of momentum going now.

      Any recommendations for Hungarian or Bulgarian books? (A Bulgarian friend of mine recommended Tyutyun by Dimitr Dimov, but as far as I can tell, that hasn’t been translated into English)

      • Oh, that would quite a good choice, but I don’t think the bigger Bulgarian classics have been translated to English yet… Or at least the ones worth reading.
        I can suggest something contemporary which I know has been translated already – “A Natural Novel” by Georgi Gospodinov. He’s the most popular contemporary Bulgarian writer right now.
        I will think of something Hungarian as well. But what kind of books do you prefer? =)

      • Hmm. I’d say I’m generally fairly eclectic. I definitely don’t like horror and tend not to read that much crime/mystery.

        “A Natural Novel” sounds both rather fascinating and quite challenging. I’m intrigued.

      • Well not long ago I recommended a book by Magda Szabó – “The Door” to a friend of mine. I loved it but I think she didn’t enjoy it as much as I did. However – most of my Hungarian friends love it as well.
        There is also Dezső Kosztolányi – he’s really good, but writes mainly short stories. Or if you’re in for something light – there is a childrens’ book called “The boys from Paul street” by Ferenc Molnár – it’s a pretty light and interesting 🙂

      • Those look like great suggestions! I’ve added The Door to my to-read list. Thanks!

  11. I see you haven’t got to Spain yet on your list – pity because my two attempts at reading a Spanish author have not worked out and I couldn’t finish them. I was hoping you might have a bright idea!

    • Nope, I haven’t gotten to Spain yet. My current thought is that I will read The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Occasionally I think about tackling Don Quijote, but that is much less likely.

  12. What an inspiring list and reading project! I’ve never made a challenge out of it, but I enjoy reading literature, classic and contemporary, from around the world. I suppose I could create a list of countries and see what I’ve read to date – what I’m missing. I think I’ve got about 20 countries right now – Your list and blog will help. 🙂

    • Thanks! It’s been a fun journey so far. I bet you’ve visited more countries than you think you have!

  13. Nice to see other ones doing the same project as mine. I know I’ve got The Tiger’s Wife somewhere in my pile, I just need to read it. And thanks for giving me a bit inspiration in terms of new countries/books.

    PS. Sorry that my own blog was in Norwegian.

    • I very much enjoyed The Tiger’s Wife, I hope you do too.

      Don’t be sorry that you blog is in Norwegian! I’m just sorry I’m not able to read it. Google Translate does a surprisingly good job though.

  14. I have covered 53 countries, with your exact same rules, and I see many from countries you have not read yet, so you might want to check:

    • Ooh, thanks! You kept up quite a fast pace on your project! At that pace you could cover the whole world in 4 years.

  15. What a great way to explore books from all over the world! Your project is such a great idea. Just finished reading The Door by Magda Szabo (from Hungary) and thought it would be a great recommendation to cover off Hungary. But then I saw you’ve already read it! I look forward to hearing about how your project progresses. For South Africa, you might be interested in exploring the work of J M Coetzee?

    • Thanks! I loved The Door, so it would have been a great recommendation! I do need to read some J. M. Coetzee at some point, I haven’t read anything by him. I have recently read a book for South Africa, but I haven’t been keeping my list up to date recently. I need to get on that.

  16. Actually, I started my own list and came up with quite a lot – My Palestinian book is from prior to the days of Israel – fwiw – and it’s pretty typical pro-Israeli). Now I have to check your list to see if there’s anything I want/need to read! Here’s my countries “challenge”:

  17. Wow, you’ve read a lot in a year! I’m quite impressed. I’ve read a couple of the books you’ve read and intend to read some others, but it looks like the only one we overlap on in our lists is Voices from Chernobyl (and I counted that for Belarus rather than Russia)!

    • I’m just going to keep going for as long as it takes – see how many I can get.

  18. I was wondering, are the titles in black on your list ones you’ve read but not yet posted on, or ones you haven’t read yet? Congratulations on your amazing project!

    • They are books that I’ve read but not posted on. I lost the energy to post about every book and am mostly now just doing a more general post every ten books I read.

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