Annie travels the world in books

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Annie travels the world in books

Edited: Oct 31, 2022, 2:59pm

Way back when at the dawn of time (also known as 2009), I tried to do a "read a book from each country in the world". It went nowhere because I ended up traveling too much for work (the irony!) and then I moved to the States (without my books) which threw everything into a bit of a chaos... and I never went back to it. Time to try again.

A bit of a modification of the rules though:
1. The author needs to be considered an author from that country (nationality and/or birth). So Donna Leon does not count for Italy even if she lived there for 30 years.
2. The book is at least partially set in the country or is speculative fiction which is either set in a different planet/reality or uses the folklore of the country.
3. One book per author in the same country; limited to 5 authors/books per country.
4. Books count if read after 1 November 2010 (when I moved).
5. Slightly modified list of countries (the Vatican and Kosovo are in (although I may rethink that...); Palestine is in list B for now. Some shifting of these 3 is possible).
6. One book per country can be a history of the country written by a non-local author (the small ones may need it).
7. For UK: 1 book from each of the 4 members plus 1 free slot; for USA: 1 book per region. Only books finished after 2021-12-05 count for these 2.

List B, C and D are for bonus points (what kind of a challenge will that be if there are no bonus points?). For these books, in order for it to count it just needs to be set there, authors can be from anywhere but preference will be given to local ones if there are any.

Note on the map: They have South Sudan, lack Kosovo and the Vatican and have Israel and Palestine combined (Israel is going to be checked when I have 5 there) compared to my list A. All territories/dependencies get colored when their mother country is colored. I am also looking at other possible maps :)

5 books: 7 countries

I visited 7 countries of the United Nations (3.62%) out of 193.
Create your own travel map .

Edited: Jan 4, 4:44pm

1. Afghanistan
I Am the Beggar of the World: Landays from Contemporary Afghanistan, edited and translated by Eliza Griswold (2022)
Zarifa: A Woman's Battle in a Man's World by Zarifa Ghafari and Hannah Lucinda Smith (2023)
2. Albania
3. Algeria
4. Andorra
5. Angola
6. Antigua and Barbuda
7. Argentina
Trafalgar by Angélica Gorodischer (2015) - SF, not set in Argentina
Ghosts by César Aira (2015)
8. Armenia
9. Australia
Kittyhawk Down by Garry Disher (2015)
Bad Debts by Peter Temple (2016)
Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic (2018)
The Portrait of Molly Dean by Katherine Kovacic (2021)
Born Into This by Adam Thompson (2021)
10. Austria
11. Azerbaijan
12. Bahamas
13. Bahrain
14. Bangladesh
The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday by Saad Z. Hossain (2022); writes in English
15. Barbados
16. Belarus
17. Belgium
18. Belize
19. Benin
20. Bhutan
21. Bolivia
22. Bosnia and Herzegovina
23. Botswana
24. Brazil
25. Brunei
26. Bulgaria
Градче на име Мендосино by Деян Енев (2015)
Софийски магьосници by Мартин Колев (2017)
Юлски разкази by Здравка Евтимова (2017)
Когато бях армейски генерал by Михаил Вешим (2018)
Софийско крими by Орлин Чочов (2020)
27. Burkina Faso
28. Burma
29. Burundi

Edited: Jan 17, 5:56pm

30. Cambodia
31. Cameroon

32. Canada
Alone in the Classroom by Elizabeth Hay (2020)
Watershed by Doreen Vanderstoop (2020)
A Town Called Solace by Mary Lawson (2021)
It's a Good Life, If You Don't Weaken by Seth (2023)

33. Cape Verde
34. Central African Republic
35. Chad
36. Chile

37. China
The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu (2015)
China in Ten Words by Hua Yu, translated by Allan H. Barr (2022)
Red Sorghum by Mo Yan, translated by Howard Goldblatt (2022)
Lenin's Kisses by Yan Lianke, translated by Carlos Rojas (2022)
The Song of Everlasting Sorrow by Wang Anyi, translated by Michael Berry and Susan Chan Egan (2022)

38. Colombia
The Book of Emma Reyes by Emma Reyes (2018)
Songs for the Flames: Stories by Juan Gabriel Vásquez (2021)
Difficult Light by Tomás González, translated by Andrea Rosenberg (2022)

39. Comoros
40. Congo (Brazzaville)
41. Congo (Kinshasa)
42. Costa Rica
43. Côte d'Ivoire
44. Croatia
45. Cuba
46. Cyprus
47. Czech Republic

48. Denmark
The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen (2012)
The Employees: A Workplace Novel of the 22nd Century by Olga Ravn, translated by Martin Aitken (2022)
Wild Swims: Stories by Dorthe Nors, translated by Misha Hoekstra (2022)

49. Djibouti
50. Dominica

51. Dominican Republic
Made in Saturn by Rita Indiana (2020)

52. Ecuador
This World Does Not Belong to Us by Natalia García Freire, translated by Victor Meadowcroft (2022)

53. Egypt
Brooklyn Heights by Miral Al-Tahawy, translated from Arabic by Samah Selim

54. El Salvador
55. Equatorial Guinea
56. Eritrea
57. Estonia
58. Ethiopia
59. Fiji

60. Finland
The Healer by Antti Tuomainen (2013)
The Core of the Sun by Johanna Sinisalo (2016)
Dog Park by Sofi Oksanen (2021)

61. France
The Prone Gunman by Jean-Patrick Manchette (2016)
The Deep Sea Diver's Syndrome by Serge Brussolo (2016) -- Speculative fiction
Too Close to the Edge by Pascal Garnier (2016)
The Black Notebook by Patrick Modiano (2017)
Three Days and a Life by Pierre Lemaitre (2018)

Edited: Jan 13, 6:12pm

G-K (Bold means that I got 5)
62. Gabon
63. Gambia, The
64. Georgia
65. Germany
Anniversaries: From a Year in the Life of Gesine Cresspahl by Uwe Johnson, translated by Damion Searls (2022)
66. Ghana
67. Greece
68. Grenada
69. Guatemala
70. Guinea
71. Guinea-Bissau
72. Guyana
73. Haiti
74. Holy See (Vatican)
75. Honduras
76. Hungary

77. Iceland
The Shadow District by Arnaldur Indriðason (2018)
Whiteout by Ragnar Jónasson (2021)
The Fox by Sólveig Pálsdóttir (2021)
Summer Light, and Then Comes the Night by Jón Kalman Stefánsson, translated by Philip Roughton (2022)

78. India
Small Days and Nights by Tishani Doshi (2020)
Pyre by Perumal Murugan, translated from Tamil by Aniruddhan Vasudevan (2022)

79. Indonesia

80. Iran
In Case of Emergency by Mahsa Mohebali, translated from Persian by Mariam Rahmani (2022)

81. Iraq
Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi (2021)

82. Ireland
Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan (2022)
Annie Dunne by Sebastian Barry (2022)

83. Israel
Martian Sands by Lavie Tidhar (2015)
And the Bride Closed the Door by Ronit Matalon, translated by Jessica Cohen (2023)

84. Italy
I Will Have Vengeance by Maurizio De Giovanni (2013)
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino (2015)
Numero Zero by Umberto Eco (2016)
The Hotel of the Three Roses by Augusto De Angelis (2017)
Bug by Giacomo Sartori, translated by Frederika Randall (2022)

85. Jamaica

86. Japan
The Great Passage by Shion Miura (2018)
The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa (2020)
Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda (2021)
Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama (2021)
The Decagon House Murders by Yukito Ayatsuji (2021)

87. Jordan
88. Kazakhstan
89. Kenya
The Perfect Nine: The Epic of Gĩkũyũ and Mũmbi by Ngugi wa Thiong'o (2021)
The House of Rust by Khadija Abdalla Bajaber (2022) (written in English)
90. Kiribati

91. Korea, North
A River in Darkness: One Man's Escape from North Korea by Masaji Ishikawa, translated from Japanese by Martin Brown and Risa Kobayashi (2023)

92. Korea, South
The Good Son by Jeong You Jeong (2019)

93. Kosovo
94. Kuwait
95. Kyrgyzstan

Edited: Jan 4, 4:47pm

96. Laos
97. Latvia

98. Lebanon
The Disoriented by Amin Maalouf (2020)
Voices of the Lost by Hoda Barakat, translated from Arabic by Marilyn Booth (2022)

99. Lesotho
100. Liberia
101. Libya
102. Liechtenstein
103. Lithuania
104. Luxembourg
105. Macedonia
106. Madagascar
107. Malawi
108. Malaysia
109. Maldives
110. Mali
111. Malta
112. Marshall Islands
113. Mauritania

114. Mauritius
Kaya Days by Carl de Souza (2021)
Silent Winds, Dry Seas by Vinod Busjeet (2021)

115. Mexico
116. Micronesia
117. Moldova
118. Monaco
119. Mongolia
120. Montenegro
121. Morocco
122. Mozambique
123. Namibia
124. Nauru
125. Nepal
126. Netherlands

127. New Zealand
The Imaginary Lives of James Pōneke by Tina Makereti

128. Nicaragua
129. Niger

130. Nigeria
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (2020)

131. Norway
The Drowned Boy by Karin Fossum (2016)
Paradise Rot by Jenny Hval (2019)
Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson, translated by Anne Born (2022)

Edited: Oct 31, 2022, 2:50pm

132. Oman
Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi, translated by Marilyn Booth (2021)
A History of Modern Oman by Jeremy Jones and Nicholas Ridout (2022)
133. Pakistan
134. Palau
135. Panama
136. Papua New Guinea
137. Paraguay
138. Peru
139. Philippines
140. Poland
The Pianist: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945 by Władysław Szpilman (2017)
141. Portugal
142. Qatar
143. Romania
144. Russia
First Love by Ivan Turgenev (2014)
Азазель (The Winter Queen) by Борис Акунин/Boris Akunin (2020)
145. Rwanda
The Barefoot Woman by Scholastique Mukasonga (2020)
146. Saint Kitts and Nevis
147. Saint Lucia
148. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
149. Samoa
150. San Marino
151. Sao Tome and Principe
152. Saudi Arabia
153. Senegal
Brotherhood by Mohamed Mbougar Sarr, translated from French by Alexia Trigo (2022)
154. Serbia
155. Seychelles
156. Sierra Leone
157. Singapore
158. Slovakia
159. Slovenia
160. Solomon Islands
161. Somalia
162. South Africa
Black Diamond by Zakes Mda (2015)
Weeping Waters by Karin Brynard (2018)
*When the Lion Feeds by Wilbur Smith (2021)
163. Spain
The Anatomy of a Moment: Thirty-Five Minutes in History and Imagination by Javier Cercas (2011)
The Family of Pascual Duarte by Camilo José Cela (2014)
The Good Suicides by Antonio Hill (2014)
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (2016)
Monteverde: Memoirs of an Interstellar Linguist by Lola Robles (2019) --Speculative fiction not set in Spain
164. Sri Lanka
165. Sudan
166. Suriname
167. Swaziland

168. Sweden
Until Thy Wrath Be Past by Åsa Larsson (2011)
Hostage by Kristina Ohlsson (2016)
Roseanna by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö (2017)

169. Switzerland
The Basel Killings by Hansjörg Schneider, translated from German by Mike Mitchell

170. Syria

Edited: Oct 31, 2022, 2:45pm

171. Tajikistan
172. Tanzania
By the Sea by Abdulrazak Gurnah
173. Thailand
174. Timor-Leste (East Timor)
175. Togo
176. Tonga
177. Trinidad and Tobago
178. Tunisia
The Italian by Shukri Mabkhout, translated by Miled Faiza and Karen McNeil
179. Turkey
180. Turkmenistan
181. Tuvalu
182. Uganda
183. Ukraine
184. United Arab Emirates
185. United Kingdom
185.1 England
185.2 Scotland
185.3 Wales
The Blue Book of Nebo by Manon Steffan Ros, translated from Welsh by Manon Steffan Ros (2022)
185.4 Northern Ireland
185.5 Free Spot
186. United States
186.1 Northeast
186.2 Southwest
186.3 West
186.4 Southeast
186.5 Midwest
187. Uruguay
188. Uzbekistan
189. Vanuatu
190. Venezuela
191. Vietnam
192. Yemen
193. Zambia
194. Zimbabwe
Sibanda and the Black Sparrowhawk by C. M. Elliot (2019)

Edited: Dec 5, 2021, 4:40pm

List B - Dependencies, territories and so on (main list)
1. American Samoa
2. Anguilla
3. Aruba
4. Bermuda
5. British Virgin Islands
6. Cayman Islands
7. Channel Islands
8. Falkland Islands
9. Faroe Islands
Island by Siri Ranva Hjelm Jacobsen (2021)
10. French Polynesia
11. Gibraltar
12. Greenland
13. Guadeloupe
14. Guam
15. Guinee Conakry
16. Martinique
17. Montserrat
18. Netherlands Antilles
19. New Caledonia
20. Niue
21. Norfolk Island
22. Northern Mariana Islands
23. Palestinian Authority
Minor Detail by Adania Shibli
24. Pitcairn Islands
25. Puerto Rico
26. Rarotonga & the Cook Islands
27. Reunion
28. Taiwan
The Sniper by Kuo-Li Chang
29. Turks and Caicos Islands
30. Virgin Islands (US)
31. Western Sahara

Dec 5, 2021, 3:01pm

List C - Other Dependencies and Areas of Special Sovereignty
1. Antarctica
2. Ashmore and Cartier Islands
3. Baker Island
4. Bouvet Island
5. British Indian Ocean Territory (Chagos Archipelago)
6. Christmas Island
7. Clipperton Island
8. Cocos (Keeling) Islands
9. Cook Islands
10. Coral Sea Islands
11. Guernsey
12. Heard Island and McDonald Islands
13. Hong Kong
14. Howland Island
15. Isle of Man
16. Jan Mayen
17. Jarvis Island
18. Jersey
19. Johnston Atoll
20. Kingman Reef
21. Macau
22. Mayotte
23. Midway Islands
24. Navassa Island
25. Palmyra Atoll
26. Paracel Islands
27. Saint Barthelemy
28. Saint Helena
29. Saint Martin
30. Saint Pierre and Miquelon
31. South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
32. Spratly Islands
33. Svalbard
34. Tokelau
35. Wake Island
36. Wallis and Futuna

Edited: Dec 5, 2021, 7:22pm

List D - the countries that are no more

Ancient Egypt
The Old Macedonia
Roman Empire
The Ottoman Empire
Czechoslovakia (1918–1939;1945–1992)
Innocence; or, Murder on Steep Street by Heda Margolius Kovály (2016)
Yugoslavia (1918–1941;1945–1992)
USSR (1922 to 1991)
East Germany (GDR) (1949–1990)
West Germany (FRG) (1949–1990)
Biafra (May 1967 to January 1970)
There Was A Country: A Personal History of Biafra by Chinua Achebe (2016)
(more to be added)

Dec 5, 2021, 3:02pm

Special countries placeholder

Dec 5, 2021, 7:32pm

Unless I unearth another one from somewhere (which won't be a surprise), that's where I am starting:
3 countries which I had not updated (Bulgaria, USA and UK) - I have 5 of each easily; I am considering splitting them into smaller parts though...
4 countries done, all from the main list: Australia, France, Japan, Spain - no surprises.
Total: 61 books added to the list, 56 in the main list.

Dec 5, 2021, 7:49pm

Interesting lists, Annie. How did you find the countries for your B, C, and D lists? I look forward to seeing how you end up doing Bulgaria, the US, and UK. I have separated out Scotland and Wales within UK, and done nothing with US, but I could see doing regions (Northeast, South, Southwest, Pacific Northwest, Rocky Mountains, Midwest, Alaska, Hawaii, maybe?). That could be interesting.

Dec 5, 2021, 9:17pm

>13 labfs39: Well - I cheated this time around - I had them from 2009 ( That's why I have the Vatican in there - I decided not to renumber again. :)

List B and C started as one list back in 2009 (from the US Department of State site: ) but there were extra possible checks/marks on the world66 maps we were using back then for visualization - so I pulled them in their own list. The remaining ones went into List C (and I need to recheck List C because 12 years are a long time...). As combining them will require me to split them anyway into two posts, I figured I may as well keep it that way.

List D is "Hey, I have a book from this country that does not exist anymore - let me add it". That list will grow as I go through books - the ones now listed are the ones I have books on shelves I can see.

I am still considering options for the 3 special cases:
Bulgaria is on the special list because it is home - it is too small to split otherwise :) I may go for years there and not for geography (or I can do the 9 (or 28 now) regions or who knows). Might decide to just add 5 and be done for now and reconsider later...

USA - the 9 Census Bureau divisions or the 8 Bureau of Economic Analysis regions; starting with books I read now (so no back-filling since 2010 or that will be done and dusted in no time) :)

Northern Ireland
England: possibly splitting into its 9 regions thus becoming at least a bit of a challenge...

Dec 5, 2021, 9:41pm

Or one from each US state?

Having lived in the Pacific Northwest, I think of it as being too unique to clump with California or more. Same with Alaska and Hawaii, both have very unique cultures. I'll look forward to the books you place in each of your categories.

Dec 5, 2021, 10:01pm

>15 labfs39: Yeah - that crossed my mind - that's 51 books (50 states + DC) which is comparable with 5 per region. If I go for the regions I will be marking the state and trying not to repeat anyway so I may as well go for states directly and stop working around it. :)

That's kinda why I am still thinking what I want to do with these. I will need to decide for UK probably tomorrow because I am finishing a book that will go there but the next in the stack is a US one so...

And technically speaking, that is valid for some other countries as well (Australia for example). I am seriously eyeing a few more countries for a possible split at some point but for now I will let them stay as they are...

Dec 6, 2021, 12:43pm

Canada is another one that would be interesting to do by province. Nova Scotia is so different from Quebec from British Columbia.

The possibilities are endless!

Dec 6, 2021, 12:57pm

>17 labfs39: True... but ask any local from any country and they will tell you the same applies there (I am thinking of splitting a country the size of Ohio or Tennessee and I know for a fact that there is enough linguistic and local variety for it actually to be doable and useful; can it be done if one reads only in translation from that language is probably a different conversation - that's where our limitation will come from I think. Which is why the splits will be doable if one reads the language or if the language is big enough to have a lot of translations out of it...). Which is why I am careful NOT to fall in that rabbit hole... yet.

Talking about Canada, I realized last night that I had forgotten all about it while I was looking at my "read" catalog - I am pretty sure I already have 5 of it as well. So back to that later today, together with setting up the special languages section.

Dec 6, 2021, 3:37pm

Welcome to the group - I'm so pleased to see more people finding this challenge! :)

Edited: Dec 7, 2021, 6:23pm

And final setup:
- Bulgaria is all done with 5 (sorry, not sure if any of them is translated:(); Canada got 3 (I am sure I have more but who knows where they are hiding)
- USA and UK stay with 5 each but with special rules (1 per region in USA, 1 per member in UK plus one free); only books read after I set the thread.
- Visual aids aka maps added in the first message.

>19 Jackie_K: Thanks! :)

And now back to finishing a book.

Oct 31, 2022, 3:01pm

I really need to remember to update this thread :)

2 more countries completed since last year (China and Italy), bringing the total to 7. Plus a lot of updates in other countries. I need to check USA and see if I cannot complete it under my rules as well...

Edited: Nov 2, 2022, 6:08pm

>14 AnnieMod:
Your recent post led me to exploring your thread - very interesting! A couple of random (and trivial!) thoughts/reactions.

England: possibly splitting into its 9 regions thus becoming at least a bit of a challenge...
Never thought of that. I did an English Counties 'most famous book' challenge a few years ago, which provided some excellent variety, but that's a good halfway house when reading so many other countries etc too. Has potential for a really classy list. Because I'm doing the global challenge to spread my reading beyond my comfort zone, I'll stick to just one English book (not previously read!) - but the other three countries have thrown up some very different reading to my norm.

6. One book per country can be a history of the country written by a non-local author (the small ones may need it).
No 'may' about it! I've already had to turn to one for San Marino (although the author was local)

Maigret's Rival by Georges Simenon(2016)
Given your rule #1, just to note that Simenon was Belgian, not French.

Edited: Nov 2, 2022, 6:25pm

>22 Willoyd: Oops on Simenon. I thought I checked all of the ones I was adding to the main countries of the languages that go abroad often and apparently overlooked the most obvious one. He had been ejected and Serge Brussolo took his place now (read the same year anyway). Thanks for spotting it :)

England and USA are generally the least of my problems so I am kinda thinking on them - even though I did make a decision or 3, they are at the bottom of my list of worries (so was Bulgaria being Bulgarian and being able to read in the language and all that). I have half a mind marking them as done and listing the first 5 from my list of Read books that make sense and be done.

Plus we have the Global II group as well which is specifically set for "known English-speaking" world so I may be setting something there instead (and I have the 50 states challenge which I need to update anyway).

On the other hand, going for smaller parts even in a known country always unearths something unexpected. And I tend to gravitate towards less known than the best known ones.

I also need to go up the thread and update translators and possibly original titles... This whole thread is still somewhat work in progress :)

Edited: Jan 4, 4:49pm

From the last two months of 2022, one more entry:
The 3rd for Norway: Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson, translated by Anne Born (2022)

I just finished my second book for Afghanistan: Zarifa: A Woman's Battle in a Man's World by Zarifa Ghafari and Hannah Lucinda Smith. Review in the work page.

Jan 13, 6:11pm

Second book for Israel: And the Bride Closed the Door by Ronit Matalon, translated by Jessica Cohen

And first for North Korea: A River in Darkness: One Man's Escape from North Korea by Masaji Ishikawa, translated from Japanese by Martin Brown and Risa Kobayashi

Reviews in the work pages.

Jan 17, 5:57pm

It's a Good Life, If You Don't Weaken by Seth becomes the 4th for Canada (graphic novel, review is in the work).

I really need to pay more attention to my US, UK and Canadian reading so I can get these finished here - I am sure I had read enough books from all of them already...