Reading the world | my quest to read a book from every country in the world

I’ve mentioned this on Twitter before, so if you follow me on there you might have already seen this. I’ve been trying to make an effort to read more translated works or works by foreign authors in the past years, but I still feel like it’s not enough.

I want to broaden my reading horizons, and support more authors that aren’t from the U.S./U.K./Canada etc. So on September 1st, I decided to start my quest of reading a book from every country in the world. Saying this, I stuck to the following rules: 193 member states of the UN and 2 non-member observer states. I will also do my best to include the 39 dependencies. It might be very hard to find authors from some of these dependencies, but I’m going to try my very best.

So what are my criteria? 

My main focus is the author. I want to read a book from an author from that country, no matter the genre. It could be set in a new fantasy world or in space, for all I care. As long as it’s written by an author from that country.

For example, I could read The Witcher for Poland because it is written by Andrzej Sapkowski. It is a fantasy series, but the author is Polish.

I’m not sure how to deal with immigrants for this list. For example, someone who was born in Iran but immigrated to the U.S. I will count them as an Iranian author, but I’m unsure whether to put a time limit on the amount of time someone lived in the country they were born in. For example, if someone emigrated before turning 1, do I still count them? They won’t have many memories from the country, but I don’t want to make their heritage seem unimportant or dismiss it. Let me know what you think of this!

The main challenge for me is that I still want to read books I’m interested in. I don’t just want to read a book because it was written by an author with a certain nationality. So the challenge will be to find books from each country that I actually want to read.

So, once again: the genre does not matter to me. Neither does the format. It could be a collection of poetry, a graphic novel, a non-fiction or a fiction book. It could be set in space, in an entirely different world, or in the country itself. That is not my priority here. My priority is the author.

Sources

I’ve already found quite a few sources.

First, my own to-read list on Goodreads. When I analyzed my own list, I discovered I already had some foreign authors on there. So I added those to my Google sheet.

Second, your recommendations on my Twitter thread. Thank you, to all those who left recommendations for me to check out!

This list by A Year of Reading the World. I am slowly going through this list and seeing whether there are any books on there that catch my interest. I won’t copy their list because I think there’s no point in doing that. I want to do my own research as well, and read according to my own reading tastes.

Reddit.

Book bloggers and vloggers.

Your recommendations

While I am doing my own research and creating my own list, I would really appreciate your recommendations! If you can think of any books that could be added to my list, please let me know.

I can only read books in English and Dutch, so if they were written in other languages I would need for there to be a translated version available.

Do you have any books you can recommend to me? I will be sharing my list in a few weeks, when I have added more to it. You can then make your own copies of it as I will be used it to tick off countries. You can make a copy in Google sheets though and use it for yourself afterwards.

(I’ve discovered that some countries are far easier to find authors/books from in English than others. China, India, Italy, Japan, Germany, Nigeria, Spain and South Korea, for example, were really easy for me. I could immediately add multiple books for those countries to my list. Not that I’m saying that there are too many books from authors from these countries!! Don’t get me wrong. Just that they are easier to find than others). 

21 thoughts on “Reading the world | my quest to read a book from every country in the world

  1. I recommended you book set in Kyrgyzstan, but that was before I realized you were looking for authors, not settings. So the one I suggested doesn’t count. 🙊 I’ve read a lot of Scandinavian/Icelandic thrillers, if you want any of those recs? Otherwise, I’ll have to keep thinking. 😊 You should post a list of countries, so we know which ones you already have ideas for!

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  2. This is amazing Jolien! I’m from Indonesia and there aren’t many books that are translated to english except for the classics, but I highly recommend the Buru Quartet by Pramoedya Ananta Toer. It’s a legendary series in Indonesia and soon will be adapted into a movie 🙂

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    1. Hey Jolien! I’m also from Indonesia 😉 I actually made a post about Indonesian literature if you’re interested: https://teaandpaperbacks.wordpress.com/2016/01/23/an-intro-to-indonesian-literature/
      I also live in the Netherlands and I recently read This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp, who is a Dutch author but the book is in English and is set in the US. Another Dutch author I loved is Herman Koch, his most famous book being The Dinner and Dear Mr. M – these are translated into English.
      Also, I don’t know if you know but a Youtuber I really like, Sophia @ Portal in the Pages also did a similar quest as yours, she made tons of videos, reviews & recommendations about books around the world which I really enjoyed.
      Best of luck!!!

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      1. Thank you so much! I am definitely interested!! I actually loved This Is Where it Ends, but I have read both her books already. What a coincidence, I just bought a copy of The Dinner in an online secondhand bookshop! I didn’t really know whether I would like it, so I am glad to hear you say you did 😀

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  3. That is a lofty goal! I was trying to read more translated books this year myself. One of the books I read was The Queue by Basma Abdel Aziz. It’s a short dystopian novel and the author is from Egypt.

    The question about authors who emigrated is tough! I would count them because parents and grandparents hand traditions down and *I would assume* teach that culture to their children. Depending on the country, they might also travel back and forth to those countries a great deal to visit family and such.

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