What I did


In 2012, the world came to London for the Olympics and I went out to meet it. I read my way around all the globe’s 196 independent countries – plus one extra territory chosen by blog visitors – sampling one book from every nation.

I read a story from Swaziland, a novel from Nicaragua, a book from Brunei, a… well, you get the picture.

It wasn’t easy — according to research by literature exchange platform Literature Across Frontiers, just 4.5 per cent of poetry, fiction and drama works published in the UK every year are translations. There are plenty of languages that have next to nothing translated into English. Then there are all the tiny tucked away places like Nauru and Tuvalu (I know, I hadn’t either), where not much is written down at all.

Some countries have a culture of almost exclusively oral storytelling (alright, get your giggles over with now). Others have governments that don’t like to let works of art leak out to corrupt westerners.

And that’s not to mention the whole issue of what constitutes a national literature in the first place. Is it by a person born in that place? Is it written in the country? Can it be about another nation state?

Frankly I didn’t know. But I hoped I’d figure out the answers (or at least my answers) to some of these questions en route.

What I did know was I couldn’t do it by myself. As anyone who’s dropped in on my A year of reading women blog will realise, I used to stick mostly to British and North American writers, with the occasional South African, Australian and Indian thrown in. My knowledge of world literature was shamefully anglocentric.

So I asked for your help. I invited you to tell me what’s hot in Russia, what’s cool in Malawi, and what’s downright smoking in Iceland. The books could be classics or current favourites. They could be obscure folk tales or commercial triumphs. They could be novels, short stories, memoirs, biographies, narrative poems or a mixture of all these things. All I asked was that they had some claim to be considered part of the literature of a country somewhere in the world — oh, and that they were good.

If you want to know more about the quest, check out my TED talk below or go to the List and click the country names to discover what I read for each nation.

With thanks to Jason Cooper for the idea


I don’t monetise this site or receive any external sponsorship for maintaining it. I pay for it from the money I earn through my published writing. If you are able to support me buying one of my books, you’ll help me to keep this blog as a free resource for readers everywhere. 

480 responses

  1. This is a great project! Good luck and keep in touch. I’m sure we can help you fill some of the gaps in your list.

    Alexandra Büchler | Director
    Literature Across Frontiers
    European Platform for Literary Exchange, Translation and Policy Debate

    • Thanks for your comment Begzsuren. I’d love it if you could recommend some Mongolian books that have been translated into English – as you can see I don’t have anything for Mongolia yet! Any ideas would be very much appreciated.

  2. I found another contact for you in the Pacific – at USP. It seems they have a new-ish publication and I just saw some regional media. So try contacting Mohit Prasad, Director, Pacific Writing Forum at USP, mohit.prasad(at)usp.ac.fj. The new publication (which I didn’t see at the bookshop) is http://www.usp.ac.fj/index.php?id=5852

  3. A very unique and ambitious goal. I wish you the best of luck in getting through it, and if I come across anything interesting hopefully I’ll remember to send word of it your way.

      • 🙂 i’m glad to see that;)) and by the way: dracula wasn’t a vampire:)) [for those who still think that dracula was a vampire]….Dracula’s name was Vlad Tepes and he was a leader of the land, in the 15th century. He was so cruel, he was killing all the thiefs…and that’s where he got his nickname from. Dracula which means “Son of Dracu”. Dracu, in romanian, means Devil 🙂 i hope it was useful this information:)

  4. What a wonderful idea! I need to catch up on the blog and see all your posts and then I will have some suggestions to add. I am a deeply committed bibliophile, and I love to travel as well. I may have to join you on the reading journey 🙂

  5. That is a wonderful idea, congratulations! A real challenge, too, I know, as I too get frustrated with the few translations available in the UK. As a serial expat (and uncoventional reader myself), please let me know if you need any suggestions or if I can help you find some of the books on your list.

    • Thanks very much. I’m always keen for suggestions. As you can see from the list, there are still quite a few gaps, however I’m also keen to have recommendations for great books from countries I’ve already got suggestions for, so if there’s something you think I should know about, please say. I’m particularly interested in books that most readers in the UK may not know have heard of.

  6. This is a phenomenal project. Congratulations, and good luck. I see you already have a few down for your Jamaica book, but I’ve got another to recommend: John Crow’s Devil by Marlon James, a wonderfully dark fantasy that weaves folk tales and superstition into a real-life story of betrayal, deprivation and alienation. Given your appreciation for American Gods (one of my all-time favourites) I think you’ll like it – and it’s considerably shorter!

  7. Hi there,

    One of the most remarkable writers and activists in Brazil is Paulo Freire (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paulo_Freire) and among many of his books translated into English I would recommend you reading “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” but maybe you want to check this international collaboration centred on Paula e Anita Freire’ work: http://www.freireproject.org/

    Just a warning: prepare to challenge how you think people learn, see, and change the world…

    I am positive you will enjoy the journey!

    Congratulations on this outstanding window of opportunity to read the world from a multitude of voices.

    Nathan Souza

    • Thanks Nathan. The book sounds great. I’ve already posted on Brazil, but I’ll add Paulo Freire to the list for others to check out and hope to get to him next year. Thanks very much for stopping by and taking the time to comment

      • Unfortunately Paulo Freire was a teacher with a method that never worked. Try something else, please, his books are a failure as method, as literature, as anything else. There are books by a project called River of January that are simply wonderful. They were translated into English by Mark Carlyon. You will enjoy it for sure! And congratulations for your idea.

  8. Hi,

    I’m doing exactly the same thing! I stumbled across your project yesterday whilst finalising my own list – hope you don’t mind that I’ve followed some of your leads. Feel free to do the same if you’d like, my provisional list can be found at:


    I’m particularly interested to know how you’re intending to deal with Palau and San Marino. I’ll look forward to following your blog!

    • Hi Michael. Thanks for getting in touch. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to deal with those either yet – I’ll have to see what help the world can give me. Good luck with getting started.

      • Thanks! Might I add a link to your list on my blog? I’m trying to pool as many of the resources for this kind of project as I can into a kind of directory for people who might want to do this in the future.

  9. What a great project! For some ideas you can look at the new PEN Atlas blog – it has a new dispatch every Thursday from a different international writer. We just started so the archive is small but there might be some places and books to explore. Good luck and I will keep reading your blog.


    Tasja Dorkofikis
    Editor, PEN Atlas

  10. Hi,

    I’m doing something similar — reading the countries of the world alphabetically, using a novel, if possible. If not, a short story, memoir, etc. I don’t have a time limit, and I take breaks. My list so far is on Goodreads: http://bit.ly/Hy9koA

    I haven’t really had a chance to look at your list yet, but I’m sure I’ll be “borrowing”!


    • Hi Karen

      Good to hear from you. I look forward to checking out your list. People keep telling me about Good reads – I must try it out. Are you doing books from countries or books set in them?

      Feel free to borrow and good luck


  11. To clarify, they need to be both by an author from the country and set in the country, although I’ve made a couple of exceptions.

  12. This is a great idea and good luck with finding all you need to. Yes, the Edith Grossman translation of Don Quixote looks like it is calling you so you know what you must do! You wont regret it and it won’t be like anything you’ve read before 🙂 Tell me about this choir.

    • Thanks. The choir is a long story, but in a nutshell some of the big London churches have singers they pay to come in and sing services, weddings and funerals on next to no rehearsal – it’s a sort of choral SWAT team that descends, performs and disappears. That’s what I do on the weekends (and what paid my rent when I first started trying to be a writer).

  13. Wow!. I was thinking what can I do now? i decided to read around the world, I have chosen a few books and then discovered your blog. We even picked out the same books.. He luck to us.

  14. Here are several suggestions:

    South Africa: The House Gun by Nadine Gordimer
    Iceland: The Greenhouse by Audur Ava Olafsdottir
    Nepal: Samrat Upadhyay’s Buddha’s Orphans
    Sudan: Minaret by Leila Aboulela
    France: A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cosse
    Serbia: something by Zoran Zivkovic

    You can find many ideas at World Literature Today magazine’s website: worldliteraturetoday.com.

    Good luck!

    Michelle Johnson
    Norman, Oklahoma USA

  15. Seriously one of the best ideas I’ve heard/seen in ages! Amazing story, and I hope to read a lot more of your posts soon. What a great way to be exposed to new authors and new experiences, and learn more about different cultures! Love it!

  16. Hi – great to meet a fellow literary world traveller! You may be interested in my website http://www.readingtheworld.co.uk. This charts my journey around the world through reading books, which I commenced in May 2009. I have some different criteria to your own travels (each country must be adjacent, and books must be written and set post-1990). But you may find my list useful in filling in some gaps! I have also included disputed states such as Nagorno-Karabakh & South Ossetia. Sadly, I have neglected my own blog of reviews lately, but hope to be up to speed again soon. Look forward to following your travels!

      • Great thanks John. I’ll add these to the list. I came across your website a few months ago – a very ambitious undertaking, particularly going between adjacent countries. Where are you in the world at the moment? Hope you’re enjoying your literary travels

      • Ta – am in Western Sahara at the moment (a disputed area of Morocco, though most official maps show it as a separate country these days) – a great book called “Oasis” by Laureen Vonnegut – daughter of the late, great Kurt Vonnegut. Next stop Mauritania! You’ve done brilliantly to cover so much ground in a few months. Whilst a quickish reader myself, I calculate I’ll be done by 2018! Will keep you posted on progress and happy to add a link to your blog from my website if you like?

      • Great stuff, thanks John. A link would be lovely. I’ll add you to my blogroll too. Just wondering if you could clear something up for me. The posts on your blog suggest you are actually physically travelling between these countries too. Is that right? Will be intrigued to see what you dig up for Mauritania. It’s still a blank for me (I’m trying only to do books by nationals of the country or – at a stretch – people who’ve lived there for a very long time).

  17. : ) I would love to be physically travelling to these countries (well, some of them), but no, I just thought it would be an interesting device to add details as if I was, at the end of each review…sort of evolved over the course of the blog.

    I think the idea of having books purely by nationals of each country is an excellent one. I’ve always prioritised local authors where possible, but sadly this just hasn’t been possible with my criteria!

    For Mauritania I am going to read: “Travels in Mauritania” by Peter Hudson – a British author who has travelled extensively in Africa. He visited in Mauritania 1988 and the book was pubished in 1990 – so JUST fits my self-imposed rules!! Will get onto the link to your website today.

    PS a quick errata, if I may- ‘Oasis’ is by Laureen Vonnegut, not Laura Vonnegut….

  18. Wow! Totally ambitious – not only will it be tough to find ‘authentic’ books but also to source it! You seem to be doing well though so well done!

  19. Lonely Planet published a book called Travel through every country, 2 pages dedicated to each country of the world and one of the sections for each country is what to read from or about that country.

  20. This is the coolest thing ever! I really look forward to reading more from your blog. Your mixing my two favorite things and combining them to create one epic blog!

    • Sorry, I initially thought the red symbol in the background is Coney Island in Brooklyn but now I am actually not so sure anymore… Where are you in the photo?

      • Laura, your first instinct was absolutely right (and may I congratulate you on being I think the first person to name that location). It was Coney Island on a very cold day this January. NYC is one of my absolute favourite places.

        Yes I have covered Germany. I read Clemens Meyer’s All the Lights. What would your recommendation be?

      • Wow, that is AWESOME! I spend so many weekends there, that the impulse to name it came quite naturally…!

        Well, to be honest, I really do not know which German book to choose from. There are just so many. Plus I have been out of the country for the past two years and have forgotten quite a bit about our literature… bummer, I know! I will now have to google that book you described!

  21. Love your idea. I was trying something similar with songs. Collecting them from several parts of the world in their own languages (yeah, yeah easier to listen to musinc in other languages than reading a book…). I may try with books too, limited translations into English, Portuguese and Spanish. ;o) As for a reference for Brazilian literature, I guess the most widely avalable author in translations worldwide would be Jorge Amado. I personally do not like his writing style, but the stories are great and shows a lot of the culture in Brazil, in special, in his home state of Bahia. Just in case you haven’t tried Brazilian yet… ;o) Good luck!

  22. all the very best for your work and i am deeply inspire
    its very long way to came here at this point…
    i can see that you have done great research and hard-work..
    and i have written a post about your blog(but its not in English)
    but something wrong with link..i could not attached you blog link in to my post
    my best wishes for you

  23. great project….i admire anyone who loves book and especially keen on reading that many books. good luck to u. i m from pakistan and would love to suggest Daniyal Mueenuddin’s wonderful book ” In other rooms, other wonders” or jamil ahmad’s ” the wandering falcon” . they both are fantastic read n u will surely enjoy.

  24. It’s an ambitious project. I really admire you. Although it’s very difficult. Fifty books are not sufficient to make an idea of a country’s literature. Maybe you will not resist and end up doubling your stay in some far corner of the world.

    • I too I’m doing something like this, it’s an idea that bumped to me this summer. I believe books are the time-space travel machine we’ve been looking for. I’ve recently started with the U.S.A of the inter-war period; the Roaring Twenties, the Prohibition, the Flapper Generation, the Great Depression, the New Deal et cetera. After reviewing every single book I read (I plan to read about 10 books), I will then try to write something organic about my experience.

  25. great blog! one question. How on earth do you do it??? find time to read all those books, and then write regular, decent, lengthy posts?
    i want to know your secrets…

    • Thanks! I don’t know if there are any secrets to it really. It’s a combination of late nights, early mornings, reading and writing through most weekends and lunch breaks, and a touch of lunacy. And when the chips are down all the enthusiasm and interest from people like you is really what keeps me going.

  26. Have come across your blog – and what a fantastic idea! One of the best things about literature is its ability to connect, and to open the reader’s mind to other worlds – this project is a great exploration of that.

    • Ooops just double checked the list and I see that you have already picked two great ones (should’ve looked before leaping). Love both those books. In fact, I’ve actually just just finished reading Lucy… blogged about it on my site as well.

  27. In fiction, I also like Jamaica Kincaid’s Annie John, Althea Prince’s Loving this Man and Ladies of the Night (though that’s a collection of shorts,not novel), Gisele Isaac’s Considering Venus…that’s what comes to mind off the top of my head…full disclosure, my books are listed in the online bibliography the link to which is posted above as well; mixed feelings, I do hope you’ll check them out but that’s not why I posted here so I’ll leave it at that. Good luck with the rest of your reading adventure. I’ll check in from time to time to see how it’s going and maybe discover some must-reads as well. Btw, there’s also a section on my sight where I talk about books I’ve read and liked http://wadadlipen.wordpress.com/2012/08/04/blogger-on-books plus a Caribbean bibliography if you’re still looking for books from other countries in the region: http://wadadlipen.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/bibliography-of-west-indian-literature-in-english-by-john-r-lee/ So thought I’d share those as well. Happy fishing 🙂

  28. Fabulous Blog! A great book is a sure shot way of getting interested in a place and getting to know it better! My top favorites are ‘Reading Lolita in Tehran’ by Azar Nafisi and ‘Istanbul’ by Orhan Pamuk.

    Am sure you are not alien to words without borders? Here is the link anyway: http://www.wordswithoutborders.org

    Look forward to reading more of your blog!


    • Thanks Archana, Yes WWB is a great organisation. I enjoyed the Nafisi too, but between you and me I’ve never read Orhan Pamuk – plan to give him a go when the world adventure is finished next year. Thanks very much for your comment

      • I mostly read non fiction I must admit. Did read Tim Winton too (Dirt Music) and liked it, but it may help I spent a lot of time in WA. Other than that can’t think of much. If you read any Dutch stuff I would recommend Turkish Delight (‘Turks Fruit’) by Jan Wolkers, which is quite old and somehow very Dutch and a tragic love story as well. If I should come across anything interesting I will let you know.

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  30. This is such an amazing idea! I might have found out about what you’re doing a bit late but I hope your blog will give me some inspiration for how to broaden my own knowledge of world literature 🙂

    • Thanks very much! There’s still a good few books to go yet before the end of the year and no doubt several surprises left in store. Great to have your company for the rest of the adventure.

  31. Pingback: Books about Reunion and worldwide literature | A Smart Translator's Reunion

  32. Wow, this is such an ambicious project!! I came to your blog by chance through Linkedin. I don’t know if you have already found something from Argentina, but I would recommend that you read something by Borges. I am sure there must be translations of his works as he was such a well known and excellent writer. I can also recommend Ernesto Sabato’s The Tunnel (you can find it in Amazon UK). And as far as Latin American writers are concerned, you should read (in case you haven’t yet) Colombian Gabriel García Marquez’s One hundred years of solitude.
    I will be following your more than interesting trip in Facebook.
    Best of luck and please contact me if I can be of further help regarding Argentinean writers.

    • Thanks Mariana. I read Martin Kohan’s Seconds Out for Argentina, which was great. Borges is already on the list, but I’ll add your other suggestion when I next come to update it. Argentina is certainly a country I could spend a long time reading – there seems to be a wealth of great literature from there!

      Thanks very much for your comment.


  33. Hi Ann,
    Have you found a title for Panama yet? I’m not sure if you can read Spanish, but there are a few books by Roberto PEREZ-FRANCO on the Amazon.es website (I haven’t read any so don’t know if they’re any good). Alternatively – this might seem like cheating, but Carlos Fuentes was born in Panama…

  34. Wow, I love that you are doing this! I am a passionate reader of fiction and biographies. I want to use my reading to learn more about the world and its history, so I tried doing something similar. I live in the US, so first I tried to learn more about US history, by reading a biography of all 44 US presidents. It took forever, but 26,400 pages later, I finished. I then did the same thing for the British royal family, from William the Conquerer through Queen Victoria.

    Then I decided to read one biography about a famous leader from every country in the world. It is ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE. I am shocked by the lack of availability of bios of leaders from non-English speaking countries. There are enough books about Lincoln to cover the walls of my apartment, but try finding a book about someone from Syria.

    If you accomplish this, it will be a major achievement. I can’t wait to find what you discover!

  35. Pingback: A Year of Reading the World

    • Thanks very much. If you go to ‘The List’ on the menu bar at the top you’ll find the list of all the recommendations I’ve had. All the country names are links to posts on each book for each country…

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  37. I love this project. There is more to getting to know a culture than just traveling there. It is the stories that really inform you, not only of a place but of a time. You are doing something amazing. I will have quite a time catching up on what you have read.

  38. What a great idea! I wish I’d come across your site when you embarked on this ambitious project. Anyhow, very pleased to have discovered your blog – and I guess I have a lot of catching up to do!

  39. It’s a shame that I came across your blog just after you’ve completed your incredible project of reading your way around the world. It would’ve been great to follow you on your (reading) travels. A fascinating and inspiring idea! I look forward to reading through your blog.

  40. What a wonderful project and inspiring idea! Hi, just wanted to let you know I’m nominating you for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award. My post with your nomination will be up soon, and you can choose to accept or decline the award. Have a blessed day!

  41. When I originally left a comment I seem to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment. Is there a way you can remove me from that service? Thanks!

    • Hi Ashley. Sorry to hear you’re getting bombarded. I don’t have the ability to change people’s subscriptions, but if you open one of the emails, there should be a link at the bottom that you can click on to unsubscribe. If you want to continue following the blog without getting the comment notifications you can then resubscribe leaving the notify box unchecked.

      Hope that sorts it out.

      All the best


  42. This is the most extraordinary blog I’ve come across so far. I’m new to the blogging world, and this is just remarkable. I can’t wait to read more posts and check out the book in 2014.

  43. So very endearing – just discovered your adventure from an online BBC news note. – that you started with “a story from Swaziland.”

    Along with a bunch of others now many years ago, we went to Swaziland with the first Peace Corps group to work there in various projects – I ended up staying 6 years. So cool that you would start your country report with Swaziland.

  44. Pingback: Mysterious USA Reading Challenge | lasesana

  45. What an amazing idea! Good luck, I hope you enjoy it greatly! I just wanted to mention a book I love and re-read every once in a while: Death and the Dervish, 1996, Northwestern University Press, ISBN 0-8101-1297-3
    Regardless of whether you read that one or not, I hope this amazing idea of yours will be an eye-opening experience. All the best!

  46. Hi, Ms Morgan, I am from the tiny islands of Maldives. You chose one of the best books to read about our beliefs, culture and lifestyle. Just now informed Mr. Abdulla Sadiq of your choice. He was delighted. What a great idea!

  47. I felt really happy to have made your list. Your review was spot on, especially the part about my hurry to finish telling the story. I was educated in your country, and have a love affair with the BBC. I won a BBC Caribbean Magazine short story competition a while ago, “Calypso Finals”, and three years ago, My Radioplay was shortlisted in the BBC World Service Radioplay contest. When I left Manchester University, all I wanted to do was let people know what I had discovered while researching my dissertation, “Patterns of Gender Socialization in St.Lucia” now published on KINDLE along with my novel, “Neg Maron: Freedom Fighter”. If parts of the novel seem didactic, it’s simply because I was shamelessly trying to genuinely affect change in the psyches of my people because of the history that had done so much to us!
    Thanks much for including me in your project. Look out for “Programmed to stop the carnival” which I will soon be publishing on KINDLE.

    Michael Aubertin.

    • Thanks again Michael – and sorry to have been slow to reply to your first comment. Life has been a little hectic here. Great to hear from you about some of the motivations for your writing. Best of luck with future projects.

  48. What a cool idea! I am glad wordpress recommended your blog and now I am following it! Look forward to learning about new books to read from all around the globe.

    -Jonah K., New York

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  50. I got your blog in recommendations and I was surprised to know about your task as this idea came to my mind as well when I completed Paulo Coelho’s Aleph to know that even a country like Brazil can produce such high class literature. Narrow-mindedness!

  51. Hello,

    just recently I have been complaining how my reading choices seldom take me below the thirty-fifth north parallel so I am very excited to discover the stories you’ve found around the world.
    This is a precious blog.

    Warm greetings,

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  58. My sister sent a link to your site around two weeks ago. I have my own “Reading around the world” project. I started in 2011 with a criteria similar to karen311’s above, going alphabetically and ideally reading fiction. Other criteria: must be in English, in a library somewhere in Minnesota and as contemporary as possible. I haven’t finished yet. Right now I’m in Indonesia, “The Rainbow Brigade” by Andrea Hirata.

    • Good to hear from you Ann – thanks for getting in touch. Wow – in English and available in Minnesota must be a tough call. I’ll be fascinated to hear how you get on. I hope you have been enjoying the adventure.

  59. Pingback: 09. #readwomen2014: In which, Lacy and Audrey talk books. | The Postmasters Podcast

  60. Pingback: What I did | Books and other fun shenanigans

  61. Wow! That’s a brilliant mission! looking forward to read your article, wish you can write down more about what you have learned about the countries. I wish you best of luck and tons of gains along the journey. I’ll be following you! likey! haha

  62. Oh i am awestruck to hear this wonderful idea of yours and i am really excited to know the book you have chosen to read from Nepal.I could refer you one by late Jagdish Ghimire “antarman ko yatra”. It’s really inspiring and yeah “award-winning” as well !!

    • Thanks – this sounds interesting. I’ll add it to the List when I next update it. You can find details of what I read for each country on The List. Just click on the country name to see what I read for each country. Thanks for your comment.

  63. Thank you for this beautiful project (the world list); I read about it on an Italian newspapaper (La Stampa) and visited either your blog or the list. I would like to recommend to you the second novel of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi, “Half of a Yellow Sun”, named after the flag of the short-lived nation of Biafra, and set before and during the Biafran War.

    • That’s right – it’s not one of the countries recognised by the UN, which was the basis of my list. However, there was a Bermuda book on my Rest of the World wild card shortlist!

      • By whom? I’m curious, as there’s not (much) of a national literature here. Brian Burland is the most notable, I think. Angela Barry and a few others may come up in a search.

        It’s always strange to hear that the place you were born and raised, with it’s courts, and political parties, and history and dramas isn’t a “country.” C’est la vie!

      • Yes, Brian Burland was the nomination. You can see the details of the vote in the Rest of the World section.

        I was sad not to be able to include Bermuda in the project – it’s a place I know well. The same went for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland – all technically ‘the UK’ in the eyes of the UN (although my UK book ended up being a book in translation from Welsh). A list including works from all such nations would certainly have taken more than a year.

        Is Johnny Barnes still welcoming people to Hamilton every morning? I hope so.

  64. This is such an awesome idea. I’m so motivated that I want to do the same, and borrow some titles from your list 🙂
    Thanks for inspiring!

  65. I cannot express how much I appreciate this blog. As an English lit student, most of what I am familiar with is very anglocentric as well. I’m in the beginning stages of trying to expand what I read (while still being monolingual at the moment … though that’s changing). Anyway, what I’m saying is that I am very much looking forward to reading through your blog as a part of what I hope will be a lifelong journey!

  66. Hello Ann,

    now that you got your amazing done reading a book in each country, you could somehow scan some of the most difficult books to get and send email to the users of your website. Thank you.

    Fernando’s Brazil

    • Thanks Fernando. I am hopeful that the unpublished books I read will be published in English so that their authors and translators can be properly rewarded for their work rather than me just sharing their efforts for free. I will keep the blog updated with news about this.

      • Hello, is actually the work of an author should be valued. When books are published let me know, because I want to buy some, especially those who are authors of unknown countries. Just a question, all the books you’ve read that you had any intentions had a transcultural literary impact?

  67. What a great way to tour the world. Maybe there is a follow up with the other places the U.N doesn’t recognize as countries but no rush …. It may take the rest of us a while to catch up on the 196 !

  68. This is beautiful (His) Herstoric journy and Wonderfull Word expedition.Congratulations.Have you been Kerala(Southern part of India) Mothertounge is Malayalam ,the most book reading area

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  71. Very few people think or show the enthusiasm like you did. Exactly the list which I was searching. Wish to read all the books mentioned in list by next 2 years 🙂

  72. How inspiring! Greetings from Penang, Malaysia – and ironically it was my search on the Malaysian writer, Shih-li Kow that led me to your blog, so yours is the first review of her work I have read. Will be checking your blog from time to time for good writing and inspiration.

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  74. Have you read “Train To Pakistan” by Khushwant Singh? It was published in 1956 and recounts the Partition of India in August 1947. A really good read. Peppe

  75. Thank you for your inspiration. I have been trying to do a around the world in 180 postcards project with my children (we have covered 45 countries so far) and I thought it would be fun, for next year, to do a round the world in 180 books project – which is how I stumbled upon your project. Unfortunately I can’t just copy your list – I would need books that are appropriate for a 6 year old girl and/or a 10 year old boy. How did you find books from some of the countries? Thankfully we are only doing 180 so the first 180 we get books from will be the ones we cover 😉 Thanks for your time – I see you are busy with writing your own book – too bad you are not a children’s writer from Cabe Verde or Timor-Leste 😉

    • Thanks for your comment – it certainly sounds like an intriguing project for your children. You can find out how I found the books for each country by clicking on the country names on the list. My choice for Dominica might be of particular interest to you. Good luck!

      • Ahhh, you’re an angel, thanks! Dominican Republic tick (what a fun looking book) I’ll let you know how we get on, with the junior “year of reading” 1st Jan 2015, here we come – excited!

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  83. When I was looking through the list, for Ireland, William Trevor is listed but no book title. I think he is a great writer but I was curious what you had read by him. I also look forward to attempting to read books you have listed. Great project!

    • Thanks. The list features all the recommendations that people made and I chose one for each country (you can find it by clicking the country name). I’m still working my way through all the other suggestions! For Ireland it was Ulysses. Where an author’s name is given on its own, it means the person who suggested it didn’t give a specific title – what would you favourite William Trevor title be?

  84. Amazing project! Let me suggest you Javier Marias (Spain). I read The infatuations this Summer and I was so impressed that I am reading other novels of him. Of David Grossman (Israel), my favourite writer, please do not miss Be my knife 🙂

  85. Hei from Ukraine. It’s Amazing project! When I found article about you on BBS, it’s interested me so much. The world has so many beautiful novels, story, which we haven’t know nothing about. You are so lucky because you met the whole world. What is your favorite story?

  86. OMG! You are simply amazing! You inspire me a lot. I love reading books too and your article in BBC caught my attention. Then I checked up your blog and found it truly wonderful. You did something really wonderful. All the best for your new book!

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  88. Hi… Amazing idea and reading done … Though I have read books from Russia, Iran, Iraq, Indonesia, Vietnam, South Africa… many countries but not like you…. I have one question – how did you find the books and authors of Non English speaking countries??? Tried to find them in English but no luck so far….
    I wish to have BIG READ LIST like yours hopefully in next 2 years.

    • Thanks Antoinette – with difficulty in some cases! You can find out what I did for each country and how I found the book by clicking on the country names on The List. Best of luck with your own literary travels.

  89. Hi Ann,
    Thank you for the inspiration. I discovered your site this morning and already ordered two books from your list. I wrote about your site and upcoming book on my blog Maria Berg’s Writing Life. I hope my readers get excited to read books from around the world too.

  90. I just discovered your blog, and I really have to commend you on such a huge undertaking. I’m looking forward to coming back time and time again to read all the entries you’ve posted. How lovely to meet you and discover your blog. Best wishes, Mary

  91. Pingback: The very best way to travel around the world: read a book from each of the countries in the World | Inko

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  94. WOW!!! Big ups! Kudos! Cheers! Infact whatever it is that may translate encouragement. This is absolutely incredible. Im truly inspired by your tremendous, zestful, remarkable and awe-inspiring project. Trust me, i’ve got no option but to imbibe your admirable qualities. Keep up the great works though;) I’m actually wondering if you’ve got a work from Fiji republic???
    Daniel, Nigeria.

  95. I love reading your blog. I was wondering if you were interested in multi-touch iBooks. I think they are very exciting because they are still so new and their storytelling potential still hasn’t been fully developed. If you are then check out the book trailer for my new multi-touch iBook The Sword of Air.
    Video for youtube sword of air► 1:54► 1:54
    You can learn more at http://www.swordofair.net.



  96. What an incredible project!
    It’s interesting, too, because I had an idea for a novel about a week ago that has a very similar premise. Reading about your project has served to inspire me further to begin planning my novel.
    Thank you for the inspiration and congratulations on the upcoming book- I think I might have to try and get hold of a copy when it’s released!

  97. Hi! I’m a college student from Japan.
    I happened to jump to this website and very amazed by your project!
    What I am thinking is to do a short presentation about you and this project in my English class. So if you do not mind, could you tell me about how do you find your life changed through your project or what are you aiming to do from now on. ( anything would be Ok!)

  98. Great idea – and found your list very helpful for thoughts of future reading.
    You mentioned that you’d found it difficult to find Danish books in translation. I’d recommend Jens Christian Grondahl (Silence in October, Lucca, An Altered Image).

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  100. I am truly inspired by what you achieved… I wish I had the discipline my self… but I love books and reading takes me to places near and far so your list is my guide these days and I want to read everything on it and not just the selected books. I have read all the suggested ones from Afghanistan and I should say ‘The patience stone’ is a must read 🙂 … thank you for introducing a world of literature to us and bringing our attention to far fetched places…

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  103. Wow. I’m in awe and I must admit, a little jealous of the adventure you embarked on. Your journey is an ode to literature beyond language. Having lived in many countries and writing in three languages, I am a fan.

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  107. Your amazing feat it such an inspiration to me. I am a college student studying both Korean and Japanese language and culture, and it saddens me to no end the lack of translated works from around the world. I am currently attempting to research coming-of-age stories from the Eastern part of our globe, as I think it is closed-minded that we fit the entirety of the coming-of-age genre into two Western European spectrums; the Bildungsroman (German) and the French-European story arc forms. It has been so difficult to find literature relating to this topic in English, yet these stories are some of the most influential. Many of our English/American classics are based on a character’s, or group of characters’, transformations and transitions into the next stage of life (not necessarily adulthood).
    Do you have any recommendations or tips that might be helpful to my research? I would love to hear what you have to say (lending you have any spare time in the busy world we all live in).

    • Thanks Naomi. Your research sounds interesting – what exactly are you looking for? Do you want to read Korean and Japanese coming of age stories or are you looking for other books around the topic?

  108. Pingback: A Year of Reading the World | Andrea's Library Thoughts

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  111. hey,
    I was wondering have you ever tried Rumi? The Masnavi contains a lot of very short stories. Rumi is one the greatest in history of Iran and Persian culture. I’m an iranian by the way. watched you on ted.com and loved the idea. i will make the most out of your list. will be glad to help.good job!!

  112. Hi Ann, at first I want to thank you so much for sharing this wonderful strories and experiences with us!
    I am quite ashamed to admit that I never heard of your “story” till I had to chose from a list of topics for an oral exam and your speach at “Ted’s” was suggested. As someone who is addicted to books I chose this video to talk about and I got so inspired by the questions you asked yourself. How is it possible that I think of myself as an educated person and I never even heard of many countries? And why didn’t I realise that most of the books on my bookshelf are of German (I’m from Germany), British and Northamerican authors? I have to admit that I never thought about reading these books from other countries, because I was so busy catching up with all of these books from countries I already know. But what your experience taught me is, that it can change your whole view on things if you take a look at them from another perspective.
    I think a big problem we have in Germany is that even if there are translations of books from other countries, the people who translate the books are never mentioned and valued. Most of the people choose a book because they like the author or they are interested in the theme of the book, but almost nobody chooses a good book because they like the work of the translator and this is something that needs to be changed because of the hard work they have to do.
    No I try my best to read books from other countries (thanks to your list!). Since I’m from Germany I have to recommend you the books of Hermann Hesse, my favourite German author and I think there are some of his books available in English 😉

    Thank you for all your inspirational work, Giuliana

    • Thanks Giuliana. That’s great. Very interesting to know your perspective on international literature in Germany. Compared to the UK, Germany publishes a huge amount of translated literature – although I think a lot of it is from the UK and US. I must try Hesse. All the best for your reading.

  113. Hi Ann! Great blog! All this, and she can sing, too! I’m so jealous, I couldn’t carry a tune to save my life… I blog about Greece, so if you need any info, drop me a line. Marina

  114. Pingback: Il Giro del Mondo in 196 Libri - PIEGO DI LIBRI BLOG

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  116. Maybe you can read the novel I wrote, though Chinese, although not complete, although written very bad (I think), I will finish it. By the way, it has no name. because I still didn’t think of what its name is.

  117. Hi, I read about this in the January SGI Newspaper. Me, my sister and my grandmother were very impressed and decided to try this ourselves! We are homeschooled and would like to ask what books would you recommend we read?

  118. This really is an awesome idea! Glad to hear you’ve written a book about your experience. You inspired me to use this concept to explore some different avenues, so cheers!

    Also, curious how much you try to retain when reading that much and if you have a system? I’m always looking for better ways to keep track of what I’m reading. I use Goodreads for book lists, but would be interest if you have any strategies for remembering. Any feedback is appreciated. Thanks! Jessica

  119. Hi Ann, I just came across your blog through WordPress recommendations. What a wonderful idea! I am new to the blogging world; you are such an inspiration for all newcomers and other bloggers too. Amazing perseverance.

    I will be following your blog and the wonderful book recommendations.

    Keep up the good work 🙂 Thanks!

    • Hi, you’re blog is really inspiring. Love that you made your passion for reading and learning about new culture into a cool new project.

      Just curious – do you focus on remembering what you read at all or have a system? I love reading as well and read quite a lot, but find my head gets jumbled with all the information. Currently searching for a way to record after or at least remember more clearly so this great content stays with me.

      Any thoughts from your experience would be appreciated!

      Cheers, Jessica Schultz On Wed, Jun 1, 2016 at 2:25 PM A year of reading the world wrote:

      > Indian Mums Abroad commented: “Hi Ann, I just came across your blog > through WordPress recommendations. What a wonderful idea! I am new to the > blogging world; you are such an inspiration for all newcomers and other > bloggers too. Amazing perseverance. I will be following your blog an” >

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  121. since l saw your video about reading books l started reading book seriously. thank you for everything.good luck

      • l am a girl. l am student of highschool in iran. unfortunately people in iran don t read books so much. l hope that with your project they understand their mistakes. l think you are so lucky.because your mother tongue is english. if l want reading english book(the book don t translate in persian) certainly l cant understand the meaning of some words. good job.

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  125. Happy New Year Ann,
    I have just watched your TED talking today. I wish I had known you sooner. Your blog ‘s so inspiring.
    I’m student from Vietnam but now I live in Finland.
    I have started reading books since I knew how to read at 4 years old. That time we did not have as many books as today in our house so I read even scientific magazines, some science-fiction books of my parents. Each of them made me so exciting.
    When I grew older, learnt Vietnamese literatute at school. I feel so proud of my mother tongue as every words, although has same meaning, expresses different emotions and sentiments. Then I wondered if I could translate exactly every word into English that people over the world can read and feel. When I was just 10, I had a dream to be a book translator. Now, everything seems so different but I still desire to be a book translator someday. You has motivated me much.
    Have you read any Vietnamese books in English? There are many authors that I want to recommend to you. A sort of poets and literatures written in the Vietnam war are so heart-touching. I’m very glad if I can exchange views of some books with you XD !

  126. I’ve recently watched your video on TED where you explained your project and the overwhelming surprises you encoutered since you opened this blog. Although I have read many novels by foreign authors thanks to my University course, you’ve been very inspiring and I will love to pick some books from your list to extend my bookshelf to new horizons.
    I also wanted to suggest you this website, in case you don’t know it already: https://www.worldreader.org/what-we-do/our-projects/

    Keep it up or as we say in Italy… Continua cosí! 😊

  127. I really loved yout TEDx ! It inspired me to begin a new adventure inspired by yours !

    I thank you for sharing this amazing journey with us because it is a true inspiration 🙂

    I wanted to share my blog with you, in case you where interested in helping me with my feminist book tour ! https://productivefeminist.wordpress.com/

    Bonne chance ! 🙂

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  133. Hello, Ann!
    Only recently I heard about your project and I was delighted! It’s an wonderful idea! Of course I have the desire to do the same!
    I don’t know you interrupted the project but, if you continue, from my country, Brasil, the most ironic, sarcastic, imaginative and fantastic book is: “Postmortem Memories of Brás Cubas”, of Machado de Assis. It’s realy amazing! I don´t like the translation of the title in English: “Epitaph of a Small Winner” because this name don´t transmits all the criative plot of the book. The narrator tells us about his life after he already died. The book begins with this dedication:

    To the first worm to gnawed at the cold flesh of my corpse, I dedicate my posthumous memories.

    I tried translating the best way, I’m sorry for my English (throughout this email).

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  136. Dear Ann Morgan , I have read your book and the inspiring story behind it, and I featured it in one of my blog posts in Arabic, in hope that it inspires more people… love & peace to you all the way from Berlin, and I hope to meet you one day to discuss all the various books we share 🙂

  137. This project sounds so cool. I wish I had know when you were doing it, so I could follow along. I hope to read your book now, this is so inspiring! 🙂

  138. This makes me wide eyed with wonder! I love this concept of reading a book from every part of the world and I adore the stories you have gathered along the way. They are inspiring and encouraging. I have read more than 80 books this year but they must be more varied. Thank you for sharing your experience.

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  140. Hello
    i just find out about your amazing project throug TED talks. It’s sounds like such a rewarding project. Got me really thinkng about how much we are missing about the world culture!
    Thank you very much for sharing your project!

    What were the most surpresing books, in therms of cultural clash?

    Good Luck in your future projects


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  144. Few minutes ago while I was searching for the oldest books then I thought of searching “countries and their best known books”, and here I am. Astonished! Your list is extremely fascinating and as I scrolled down, I saw my country Philippines, to my surprise only Illustrado rings a bell. I will definitely go through the other books. In return, would you mind reading books by Jose Rizal, he is our national hero, his literary works have been inculcated in our national curriculum like “Noli Me Tangere”, “El Filibusterismo” and “Mi Ultimo Adios”. You shall decide then if they deserve to be included in the list. Thanks Ann.

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  146. Did you have a page limit criteria also while choosing books? Otherwise it’d be very difficult to read about the country for massive length books like say War and Peace by Tolstoy and still read all the 195 books.

    • There was no page limit – I even did Ulysses for Ireland! That was a bit of an exception, though. Most were much shorter than that – and yes, it was a challenge!

  147. Pingback: Reading || Time to #ReadTheWorld! – Martha Is

  148. I really appreciate of your effort to pursuit the knowledge and culture from the books of different countries. Inspiring and amazing after I watch your sharing from TED!

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  159. What a wonderful idea! I just now stumbled across your site/project and I’m both delighted and envious.
    Here’s a couple of suggestions for more US writers. Anyone who likes machinery, and anyone interested in the world of men, or the below-decks navy, will tell you that The Sand Pebbles, by Richard McKenna, is the best novel on any/all of these topics ever written. A neglected masterpiece is America is in the Heart, by Carlos Bulosan. The best novel of the immigrant experience I’ve ever read.
    Put them both on your list. You won’t be sorry.

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  163. Oh, I’m glad that I found your blog even quite late. Recently, I decided to spend a year reading all the Nobel Prize in Literature laureates to find out what is the ideal of literature and what criteria to based on to award the Prize. Then I dug on the internet to find out if anyone has the same idea, then I found you, I was so surprised that there was someone who did almost the same thing. I wrote to you as a reader and a like-minded person to praise you and your project even though it’s quite late now. I hope that I can complete my project within a year like you and share my experience. You’re such an inspiration! Please take your time and have a look at my blog if you can: https://ayearofreadingthenobelprizeinliterature.wordpress.com/

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