WorldBookProject – From Africa to South America to Asia to Oceania to Europe

190 books I’ve read so far in my quest to read a book from each country and dependency. Out of about 257, just in case you’re interested. Of these, 83 were written by women and 11 had mixed authorship and for one, I have no idea who wrote it. Many thanks to the people who provided me with the books mentioned here: my parents, my friend Astrid and my Twitter-pal Julia. I can recommend all of them, although especially the second story in the Gatti might be better on stage. They are plays, after all.

182 Venezuela: Tagebuch einer jungen Dame, die sich langweilt by Teresa de la Parra *****

183 Micronesia: My Urohs by Emelihter Kihleng ****

184 Montenegro: Der Sohn by Andrej Nikolaidis ****

185 The Gambia: The Sun Will Soon Shine by Sally Sadie Singhateh ****

186 Azerbaidschan: Steinträume by Akram Aylisli ****

187 Monaco: Das imaginäre Leben des Straßenkehrers Auguste G. & Die Schlacht der Sieben Tage und der Sieben Nächte by Armand Gatti ***

188 Kurdistan & Germany: Die Sommer by Ronya Othmann *****

189 Greenland: Nuuk #ohneFilter by Niviaq Korneliussen *****

190 Benin: Autobiography of the Lower Eastside by Rashidah Ismaili *****

WorldBookProject – Kazakhstan, Switzerland, San Marino and Togo

After a rather long break I’m back with an update from my project to read a book from each country and assorted territories. The choice for Switzerland lurked on a shelf and must have been there for a very long time – apparently it was first published in 1943. No idea how it ended up there between war and Iron curtain. The other books were presents from my parents. Thank you 🙂 .

178 Kazakhstan: Über Jahr und Tag – Muchtar Auesow

This quite long book deals with the last months in the life of Kazakhstan’s arguably favourite writer, Abai (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abai_Qunanbaiuly). In parts, I really enjoyed the descriptions of the bleak winter scenes and the interactions of the characters. On the other hand, I often had the feeling that things could have been shortened. Finishing this one was a bit of a chore, but I’m also glad I persevered.

179 Switzerland: Die lustigen Zipfelzwerge – Hedi Sutter

I was so glad when I rediscovered this gem. I read it as child and at some point I had to use a stapler to prevent it from falling apart. It’s a poem accompanied by lovely pictures. Fantastic to get small kids reading.

180 San Marino: Die Republik von San Marino – Giuseppe Rossi

Finding a book for San Marino was neither cheap nor easy, but a very good bookseller managed to do so. I’m fascinated by small countries and this one is no exception. The book is a thorough introduction, albeit from around 40 years ago. Here’s to a pandemic-free future and my travel plans!

181 Togo: An African in Greenland – Tété-Michel Kpomassie

I have a feeling that everybody who’s reading the world sees this book as the obvious option for Togo. It’s worth it – it feels very honest, it’s full of surprises and scares and quite horrifying experiences. A remarkable work; and I’d love to read more by this author.

China – Wintry Days around Beijing

Beijing in winter is usually bone dry and flipping cold. It apparently rarely snows so when I was there more than a decade ago and everything was white even the smog didn’t matter that much.

I’ve been to the Forbidden City a few times, but this was quite likely the most peaceful ever.

For those who are interested, a four-star-rated toilet comes with heated seats. Or at least does so in my memory.

When visiting Beijing, the Great Wall is a must-see. On this occasion, I went to Si Ma Tai which is a bit further out and less touristy.

Of course, one should always follow the instructions given. I don’t recall a mini-train though.

Couples on their wedding shoot are great entertainment. Doing this in freezing temperatures – I just hope the marriage is still worth it.

WorldBookProject – Bahrain, Equatorial Guinea, Paraguay

Reading the world has been exciting from the word go. However, sometimes there’s a book which is particularly gripping and keeps haunting me long after I finished it. And every now and then, there’s a book which really isn’t my cup of tea. In this blog post, I’m writing about both kinds of book. On my nightstand at the moment are Uzbekistan and Antarctica (still). Thanks to my parents who sponsored all three countries 🙂 !

168 Bahrain: Yummah by Sarah A. Al Shafei

The basic premise of the book (child marriage and a resulting life story) was good. However, sometimes really odd writing was off-putting, e.g. people ‘screamed’ very often and the only thing important seemed to be a beautiful woman with a rich husband. Better editing help might have been a very good idea for this inexperienced writer. I felt this book was a missed chance.

169 Equatorial Guinea: La Bastarda by Trifonia Melibea Obono

I first heard about this book on www.ayearofreadingtheworld.com and was glad when it finally appeared in English translation. What a read! It is basically an exploration of gay people’s lives in the traditional Fang society. I started reading it while sitting in a dentist’s waiting room and was halfway through by the time the anaesthesia had worn off. The ending was a bit rushed, but apart from that it’s one of the best books I’ve read for this project so far.

170 Paraguay: Die Nacht der treibenden Feuer by Augusto Roa Bastos

Another book which is still haunting me! This collection of short stories managed to draw me into its pages from the very first sentence. The jungle, the river, the mid-day heat on the fields – and then invariably something horrible would happen. I had to take a break after each story because it was so nerve-wracking. Still, I’d love to read much more by the author who was a master of catching his readers and characters alike.

WorldBookProject – Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan

You hadn’t thought I’d given up on reading the world now, had you? Yes, it is going slower than in the first two years, but I’m ploughing on and keep making great discoveries. Some stats: the current count overall is 167 out of 257 books, and 71 of these were written by female authors, 11 by a mixed team and one book didn’t name an author.

165 Saudi Arabia: Daring to Drive: My Life as an Accidental Activist in a Kingdom of Men by Manal Al-Sharif

This book is an autobiography written by someone who hasn’t much experience of the craft, but her story makes more than up for it. If you thought that the KSA was kind of a hellhole for women, here several new circles of hell are added to the equation.

166 Taiwan: Notes of a Crocodile by Qiu Miaojin

While listening to the audiobook version of this story I found it somewhat tricky to follow the many characters. I think it might have been better to read the printed version. Content-wise, I felt with the Crocodiles of the story. It’s good to see that Taiwan has now legalised same-sex marriage.

167 Kenya: Devil on the Cross by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

Revolution! This book is a call to arms and takes a broad aim: colonialism, sexual predation, big money, tribalism, corruption, religion and the list isn’t finished. It’s not exactly subtle in its stance but not without a sense of humour. The denouement came as a surprise to me and the heroine of the story … , well, read for yourself.

And what’s coming next? I’m in the middle of Bahrain, Antarctica and Kazakhstan and just got a big present from my parents including Uzbekistan, Paraguay and Equatorial Guinea. Thank you 🙂 .

WorldBookProject – Brunei, Djibouti and Estonia

August is #WomeninTranslation or #WITmonth. However, before I start reading my choice for Bahrain here’s what I’ve read recently in my quest to explore the world through books.

162 Brunei Darussalam: Amir Falique – B.I.S.A. Eventually

This very short spy-novel was totally bonkers. Which is not bad, but it was also riddled with errors both linguistically and logically. It’s highly unlikely that I’ll read any other books in this series.

163 Djibouti: Abdourahman Waberi – In the United States of Africa

Imagine a world where Africa is the ruling power of the planet. Europe and North America are ravaged by wars, poverty and epidemics. I found the premise of the book fascinating. What I found quite difficult to cope with was the fact that the story was written in the second person. So this ‘You did …’ created so much distance to the main character that it was more like reading a report of an experiment with an expected outcome.

164 Estonia: Indrek Hargla – Apothecary Melchior and the Mystery of St Olaf’s Church

This again was a book with a noticeable numbers of errors, probably down to sloppy editing. Having said that, it was great to dive into the history of the Hanseatic League and of Tallinn. I enjoyed following Melchior and the other protagonists trying to solve several murders. Hopefully, I’ll get to read more of them in the other books in the series in due course.

WorldBookProject – Brazil, Indonesia and Vatican

Yup, I’m in the middle of the 3rd year of reading my way around the world, and it’s still highly exciting because I’ve again made some rather unexpected discoveries (bookwise). The equality count at the moment: 163 books read, 69 by female authors, 11 with mixed authorship and one unknown writer.

159 Brazil: Socorro Acioli – The Head of the Saint

This was great fun! It’s a children’s book or YA, but still. The author put her finger exactly where it hurts when talking about bigotry in religious establishment, people’s gullibility and corruption. I need to read more by her.

160 Indonesia: Dee Lestari – Paper Boats

Again some YA here, but this one wasn’t my cup of tea. Too many convenient coincidences and way too much beating around the bush or silence between the characters.

161 Vatican: Pope Francis – ENCYCLICAL LETTER ‘LAUDATO SI’ OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME

As an atheist, I was more than surprised how very much in agreement I found myself with the Pope on the matters he wrote about. The encyclical deals with environmental problems, where those are coming from, and makes suggestions what to do about them. I also hadn’t expected the almost scientific language of the letter. The flowery bits were kept to the paragraphs about biblical verses and prayers. I have to say, I wish more people would listen to him and do more for our planet.