Reading the World

In July 2016 I decided to take on a reading quest: to read one book from every country around the world. In this blog, I’ll share the books I’ve read, how I found them, and other thoughts I have along the way. Follow me on Twitter @swahl (#readtheworld) for more.

Of course as soon as I decided to pursue this quest, I learned that it has already been done. In particular, two years ago Ann Morgan did this and even wrote a book about it. I encourage you to check out her excellent blog.

Why do this?

I decided to do this for a two main reasons:

  • There is something very satisfying about setting and achieving goals. At the time I decided to start this reading challenge, my son was reading a book on quests. It got me thinking about how to take my love for reading it and focus it with a goal that would both guide and challenge me. I love reading lists.
  • It is more important than ever to understand the world. We live in a time of rising xenophobia in many parts of the world, racist anti-immigration rhetoric, and increasing skepticism about globalization. Reading is a way to talk to, and talk with, the world outside ourselves. By reading a book from every country, I hope to be exposed to a much more diverse view of the world.

Reading criteria

Wherever possible, I intend to read fiction, particularly novels. This mostly just reflects my personal reading preference. I will also try to read contemporary work – rather than historical classics – to support current authors and their writing. Through my reading journey, I will also try to read a healthy mix of male and female authors. Of course in all cases I am limited to work that is available in English. I am going use the UN members list and proceed mostly from A to Z in sequence.