A couple of weeks back, Kim Kovacs posted about her reading challenge to read 80 books set in different countries within one year. Here, by popular demand, is her reading list as a spreadsheet, so you can sort the books by country, rating, fiction vs nonfiction and so forth.

Kim wishes to clarify that the rules of the challenge were that a "significant portion" of the book had to take place in the country being claimed.  So, although most of the books she read were set in the country specified, some only had portions of the action in that country.  For example, Zeitoun is mostly set in the U.S.A., but there's lots of information about Syria through the flashbacks to Zeitoun's life before establishing USA residency. Kim's personal criterion as to whether or not the book qualified was whether or not she learned something about a specific country and its people from reading it.

She also says that the opinions noted are hers alone. For example, she rated Love in the Time of Cholera a 3 (average), because she, personally, didn't enjoy it - but, of course, many others would rank it among their favorites (but of course, the same can be said of any review - it is always just one person's opinion).

Lastly, the * in the first column indicates a favorite book that she particularly recommends.

All links go to more information at BookBrowse. If a book is not linked you'll easily find information elsewhere, such as at IndieBound - the online destination for independent bookstores.

Download the list


Davina, BookBrowse editor

Whoa! This is wonderful. I recently took part in a challenge to read books by authors whose surnames began with each of the letters of the alphabet. (They had to be new to me.) At first I thought it was a somewhat humdrum idea, but by the time I had finished I felt glad that I had become acquainted with several new authors. This idea is even better in that one will have learned so much about many different countries -- a trip around the world, as was pointed out. Thank you for printing this!
# Posted By Lynette Poss | 11/3/10 8:56 PM
will certainly try this - some of these have read - others look interesting - will see what else i have read maybe i have other books for the countries or even different countries - like the idea very much - thanks
# Posted By alberta ross | 11/6/10 1:54 AM
This is a great idea. Has Kim Kovacs thought to read 50 books from each of the 50 states? Could be more applicable to those who can't afford to travel abroad, but would like to read/get acquainted with the country or continent. She could cheat and include the provinces of Canada, states of Mexico, countries of central America and leave out several or many of the states of the U.S..
Thanks
# Posted By N Harris | 11/7/10 1:50 AM
In response to N Harris - I don't know if Kim has thought to read state by state - hopefully she'll respond herself on the topic. Personally though, I read about countries precisely because I can't visit them all (or even if I did I wouldn't 'see' them in the same way that someone would who really knows the country) so although it would certainly be an interesting exercise to read a book set in each US state, I wouldn't do so because I had more chance of visiting them than Outer Mongolia. On the topic of states - you might enjoy "State by State" - a book of essays, each one about a different state: http://www.bookbrowse.com/reviews/index.cfm/book_n...

Also, BookBrowse's reading lists provide a good starting point if you want to read books set in particular states, as we categorize books by country/region in the world and by state/region in the USA: http://www.bookbrowse.com/category/?tab=1
# Posted By Davina | 11/7/10 1:59 AM
I posted this in the other blog article as well, but yes, I've considered the 50-state challenge. It was actually a sub-challenge of Around-the-World. I may do that some day, although I don't feel as motivated to read North American books.
# Posted By Kim Kovacs | 11/7/10 9:06 AM
This is a really great accomplishment and a great idea. you have inspired me to try this! I travel a lot and always try to pick a book up that I can only get where I am at (if published in English!). Also, I would like to suggest if anyone else is considering this to read The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat for a book from Haiti/Dominican Republic (this book is not in BookBrowse). It was one of the most moving and really open my eyes to how long Haiti has struggled (and it is an beautifully written work as all her books are).
# Posted By Laureen | 11/9/10 3:20 PM
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