Around the World project update

photo of globe on wooden table

I have not been good about posting my progress on this project, but I didn’t read so many books for it in 2022, so it’s simple enough to list them now. See the books I’ve read so far on the Around the World project page.

In January I started out the year with the long, dark and tragic, but fascinating family epic mainly set in Soviet Georgia, The Eighth Life. And in December I read the equally dark but entirely different How To Order the Universe, a brief tale set in Pinochet-era Chile that masks its tragedy with the innocence of a child narrator. In between there were a couple of books that I cannot recommend and plugged through just to get them over with (The Shadow of the Wind, The Dance Tree), but otherwise I heartily enjoyed all of the others and their memorable, distinctive voices and settings,

These ranged from a historic day in Switzerland seen through the eyes of disenfranchised women, to an extravagantly verbose take on Scottish power plays, to a moving set of vignettes following a repeatedly displaced Palestinian family, and much more, with visits to Sicily, Bolivia, and Malaysia as well. The lone nonfiction entry, A Time of Gifts, was about a journey by foot through Europe that continues in two further volumes; I hope to get to those soon.

Have you read any of these, or would you like to? What books from around the world do you think I should read next?

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24 thoughts on “Around the World project update

  1. I enjoyed Voting Day a great deal as well. It was such an excellent way of putting across the impacts of disenfranchisement while only indirectly touching on the issue.

    1. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it too — I’ve not seen anybody else talking about it, but I really liked it.

  2. Have you read In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez and Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe? I read those years ago (pre-blogging) and found them worth teaching in a course on “the Dilemma of Existence” at a nearby college where I was an adjunct.

  3. I’ve read a few of these: The Eighth Life, Auntie Poldi & the Sicilian Lions, The Shadow of the Wind, The Game of Kings, and A Time of Gifts, and although I love a good compact book, my favorites here are: Haratischwili, Dunnett, and Fermor – the doorstoppers!

    1. Getting stuck into a really good, long book is one of life’s great pleasures. All the better if it takes you to a new and unfamiliar place 🙂

  4. I think I would like How to Order the Universe, and if you say that the child-voice is brilliant there, even more so. I agree with you re The Dance Tree. In fact, it was one of my worst reads of 2022. Like you, I found this parallel between our modern thinking and the heroine’s psychological make-up unconvincing and even disturbing. I notice many contemporary writers do that now, including Jessie Burton, but, at least for me personally, it feels like re-writing history.

    1. Yes, that rewriting of history from a modern perspective really bothers me, including in acclaimed books like The Essex Serpent and Longbourn … it’s all the rage at the moment, but I can’t stand it.

    1. Yeah, I kind of regret the time I spent on that one. I thought it might get better, but no. Most of the rest were excellent.

  5. oh I absolutely loved A Time of Gifts, I talked about it for hours to anyone who would listen when I read it last year!

  6. What an eye-opening and soul-expanding project to read around the world! I love this. I can’t think of any books to recommend at the moment, but if one comes to me, I’ll pass it along.

    1. It’s been helpful to get me out of my usual Anglo-American reading box. I’ve included books with strong settings that are by authors not actually native to those countries, but the ones with a deeper connection are particularly powerful.

  7. I just finished my around the world project (I called mine A World of Literature) – 50 countries in total. There are a number of countries on your list that I never got around to so I shall make a note of the Bolivia and Malaysia ones for the future.

    1. I’m thinking to remove Women Talking – it’s about an enclosed Mennonite community so it doesn’t give much of an impression of Bolivia. I need to find something else for that. However, I do recommend Black Water Sister and The Girl and the Ghost — although, they are fantasy (or at least supernatural/ paranormal stories), which I think is not your fave.

    1. Oh good, I’ve sent a friend request there. I hope you enjoy The Eighth Life – I certainly learned a lot about a country I’d never thought much about.

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