world-reading-challenge-2020

World Reading Challenge: Books Around The Globe 2020


This year marks the third year of our World Reading Challenge; where we read one book per week, with each book representing a different country or region. This list covers the 52 titles we plan to read this year, with each book set in a different country that we’ve not covered before. Our aim is to create a diverse reading list for the year ahead! 🙌

Please note: This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

The World Reading Challenge: Introduction

I first created the World Reading Challenge two years ago to expand my own reading horizons and explore the world through literature. Since it started, many readers have joined me in this ambitious challenge and it has continued into subsequent years. Our end goal is to read books representing all 195 UN countries and territories around the globe – along with some regional additions too. These are the books we’ve read in previous years so far:

The World Reading Challenge: Why?

For me, making intentional book selections based on countries has diversified my reading and allowed me to uncover hidden gems I would never have found otherwise. I’ve travelled the globe through literature and it’s opened my eyes to many new places (inspiring my travels) and rekindled my love of many other regions. And most importantly, it’s taught me valuable lessons about our diverse cultures, exposing me to many perspectives from authors around the world. Setting a challenging goal to read one book per week has also motivated me to read more than ever (and I’ve always been a dedicated reader!)

How are the books selected?

The books selected are related to the countries in a number of ways; they are either set there, have characters from there, reflect the culture or are by local authors. They include perspectives from natives, migrants, expatriates and visitors alike; as each have unique viewpoints. Many other factors weigh into the selection process – popularity, awards, reviews, ratings and availability. Each year I aim to create a diverse (and engaging!) year of reading overall. 

I hope you’ll find something here to inspire your reading or travels, or perhaps even consider joining this world reading challenge yourself. Wishing you a wonderful year of adventures and stories ahead! 

The World Reading Challenge: The Shortlist

If you’re short on time, a few of my favorites from this list (already!) include:

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The World Reading Challenge 2020


Books Set Around The World: Armenia - The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

1. Armenia
The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian, 2012

When Elizabeth Endicott arrives in Aleppo, Syria she has a diploma from Mount Holyoke, a crash course in nursing, and only the most basic grasp of the Armenian language. The year is 1915 and she has volunteered on behalf of the Boston-based Friends of Armenia to help deliver food and medical aid to refugees of the Armenian genocide. There Elizabeth becomes friendly with Armen, a young Armenian engineer who has already lost his wife and infant daughter. When Armen leaves Aleppo and travels south into Egypt to join the British army, he begins to write Elizabeth letters, and comes to realize that he has fallen in love with the wealthy, young American woman who is so different from the wife he lost.
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Three Apples Fell from Heaven by Micheline Aharonian Marcom


Books Set Around The World: Bahrain - The Meeting Point by Lucy Caldwell. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

2. Bahrain
The Meeting Point by Lucy Caldwell, 2011

When Euan and Ruth set off with their young daughter to live in Bahrain, it is meant to be an experience and adventure they will cherish. But on the night they arrive, Ruth discovers the truth behind the missionary work Euan has planned and feels her world start to crumble. Far from home, and with events spiralling towards war in nearby Iraq, she starts to question her faith – in Euan, in their marriage and in all she has held dear.
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Round the Bend by Nevil Shute


Books Set Around The World: Barbados - Washington Black by Esi Edugyan. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

3. Barbados
Washington Black by Esi Edugyan, 2018

Washington Black is an eleven-year-old field slave who knows no other life than the Barbados sugar plantation where he was born. When his master’s eccentric brother chooses him to be his manservant, Wash is terrified of the cruelties he is certain await him. But Christopher Wilde, or “Titch,” is a naturalist, explorer, scientist, inventor, and abolitionist. He initiates Wash into a world where a flying machine can carry a man across the sky; where two people, separated by an impossible divide, might begin to see each other as human; and where a boy born in chains can embrace a life of dignity and meaning. But when a man is killed and a bounty is placed on Wash’s head, Titch abandons everything to save him.
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Sugar in the Blood: A Family’s Story of Slavery and Empire by Andrea Stuart


Books Set Around The World: Belize - Beka Lamb by Zee Edgell. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

4. Belize
Beka Lamb by Zee Edgell, 1982 

Set in Belize, Beka Lamb is the record of a few months in the life of Beka and her family. The politics of the small colony, the influence of the matriarchal society and the dominating presence of the Catholic Church are woven into the fabric of the story to provide a compelling portrait of ordinary life in Belize.
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Our Man in Belize: A Memoir by Richard Timothy Conroy


Books Set Around The World: Benin - The Viceroy of Ouidah by Bruce Chatwin. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

5. Benin
The Viceroy of Ouidah by Bruce Chatwin, 1980

In 1812, Francisco Manoel da Silva, escaping a life of poverty in Brazil, sailed to the African kingdom of Dahomey (now Benin), determined to make his fortune in the slave trade. Armed with nothing but an iron will, he became a man of substance in Ouidah and the founder of a remarkable dynasty. His one remaining ambition is to return to Brazil in triumph, but his friendship with the mad, mercurial king of Dahomey is fraught with danger and threatens his dream.
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Instruments of Darkness by Robert Wilson


Books Set Around The World: Bhutan - Married to Bhutan by Linda Leaming. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

6. Bhutan
Married to Bhutan by Linda Leaming, 2011

As one of the few Americans to have lived in Bhutan, Linda Leaming offers a rare glimpse into the quirky mountain kingdom so many have only dreamed of. In this funny, magical memoir, we accompany Leaming on her travels through South Asia, sharing her experiences as she learns the language, customs, and religion; her surprising romance with a Buddhist artist; and her realizations about the unexpected path to happiness and accidental enlightenment.
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The Circle of Karma by Kunzang Choden


Books Set Around The World: Botswana - The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

7. Botswana
The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith, 2008

Precious Ramotswe has only just set up shop as Botswana’s No.1 (and only) lady detective when she is hired to track down a missing husband, uncover a con man, and follow a wayward daughter. However, the case that tugs at her heart, and lands her in danger, is a missing eleven-year-old boy, who may have been snatched by witch doctors.
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Twenty Chickens for a Saddle by Robyn Scott


Books Set Around The World: Brunei - Some Girls: My Life in a Harem by Jillian Lauren. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

8. Brunei
Some Girls: My Life in a Harem by Jillian Lauren, 2010

At eighteen, Jillian Lauren was an NYU theater school dropout with a tip about an upcoming audition. The “casting director” told her that a rich businessman in Singapore would pay pretty American girls $20,000 if they stayed for two weeks to spice up his parties. Soon, Jillian was on a plane to Borneo, where she would spend the next eighteen months in the harem of Prince Jefri Bolkiah, youngest brother of the Sultan of Brunei, leaving behind her gritty East Village apartment for a palace with rugs laced with gold and trading her band of artist friends for a coterie of backstabbing beauties.
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Written in Black by K.H. Lim


Books Set Around The World: Bulgaria - Stork Mountain by Miroslav Penkov. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

9. Bulgaria
Stork Mountain by Miroslav Penkov, 2016

Stork Mountain tells the story of a young Bulgarian immigrant who, in an attempt to escape his mediocre life in America, returns to the country of his birth. Retracing the steps of his estranged grandfather, a man who suddenly and inexplicably cut all contact with the family three years prior, the boy finds himself on the border of Bulgaria and Turkey, a stone’s throw away from Greece, high up in the Strandja Mountains. It is a place of pagan mysteries and black storks nesting in giant oaks; a place where every spring, possessed by Christian saints, men and women dance barefoot across live coals in search of rebirth. Here in the mountains, the boy reunites with his grandfather.
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The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova


Books Set Around The World: Burundi - Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

10. Burundi
Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder, 2000

Deo arrives in America from Burundi in search of a new life. Having survived a civil war and genocide, plagued by horrific dreams, he lands at JFK airport with two hundred dollars, no English, and no contacts. He ekes out a precarious existence delivering groceries, living in Central Park, and learning English by reading dictionaries in bookstores. Then Deo begins to meet the strangers who will change his life, pointing him eventually in the direction of Columbia University, medical school, and a life devoted to healing. Kidder breaks new ground in telling this unforgettable story as he travels with Deo back over a turbulent life in search of meaning and forgiveness.
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The True Sources of the Nile by Sarah Stone


Books Set Around The World: Costa Rica - The Old Patagonian Express: By Train Through the Americas by Paul Theroux. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

11. Costa Rica
The Old Patagonian Express: By Train Through the Americas by Paul Theroux, 1979

Please note: this book is not solely focused on Costa Rica, but travels throughout the Americas, including Costa Rica.

Award-winning travel writer Paul Theroux invites you aboard The Old Patagonian Express by Train through the Americas; packed with powerful descriptions and portraits of the many colours of humanity, The Old Patagonian Express is an unforgettable read. Beginning his journey in Boston, where he boarded the subway commuter train, and catching trains of all kinds on the way, Paul Theroux tells of his voyage from ice-bound Massachusetts and Illinois to the arid plateau of Argentina’s most southerly tip.
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The Lonely Men’s Island by José León Sánchez


Books Set Around The World: Cyprus - The Sunrise by Victoria Hislop. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

12. Cyprus
The Sunrise by Victoria Hislop, 2014

In the summer of 1972, Famagusta in Cyprus is the most desirable resort in the Mediterranean, a city bathed in the glow of good fortune. An ambitious couple are about to open the island’s most spectacular hotel, where Greek and Turkish Cypriots work in harmony. Two neighbouring families, the Georgious and the Özkans, are among many who moved to Famagusta to escape the years of unrest and ethnic violence elsewhere on the island. But beneath the city’s façade of glamour and success, tension is building.
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A Watermelon, a Fish and a Bible by Christy Lefteri


Books Set Around The World: East Timor - The Crossing: A Story of East Timor by Luís Cardoso. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

13. East Timor
The Crossing: A Story of East Timor by Luís Cardoso, 1997

East Timor hit the world’s newspaper headlines in August 1999 after its bloody, brave vote for independence from Indonesia – one of the great expressions of a people’s democratic spirit. Exquisitely crafted and evocative, Luis Cardoso’s personal history of his homeland takes as its central image a crossing – from child to adult, Portuguese to Timorese, tolerance to repression, colonialism to independence.
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Beloved Land by Gordon Peake


Books Set Around The World: El Salvador - What You Have Heard Is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance by Carolyn Forché. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

14. El Salvador
What You Have Heard Is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance by Carolyn Forché, 2019

Carolyn Forché is twenty-seven when the mysterious stranger appears on her doorstep. The relative of a friend, he is a charming polymath with a mind as seemingly disordered as it is brilliant. She’s heard rumors from her friend about who he might be: a lone wolf, a communist, a CIA operative, a sharpshooter, a revolutionary, a small coffee farmer, but according to her, no one seemed to know for certain. He has driven from El Salvador to invite Forché to visit and learn about his country. Captivated for reasons she doesn’t fully understand, she accepts and becomes enmeshed in something beyond her comprehension.
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Senselessness by Horacio Castellanos Moya


Books Set Around The World: Equatorial Guinea - By Night the Mountain Burns by Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

15. Equatorial Guinea
By Night the Mountain Burns by Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel, 2008

By Night The Mountain Burns recounts the narrator’s childhood on a remote island off the West African coast, living with his mysterious grandfather, several mothers and no fathers. We learn of a dark chapter in the island’s history: a bush fire destroys the crops, then hundreds perish in a cholera outbreak. Superstition dominates: now the islanders must sacrifice their possessions to the enraged ocean god. What of their lives will they manage to save?
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Tropical Gangsters by Robert Klitgaard


Books Set Around The World: Estonia - The Man Who Spoke Snakish by Andrus Kivirähk. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

16. Estonia
The Man Who Spoke Snakish by Andrus Kivirähk, 2007

A bestseller in the author’s native country of Estonia, where the book is so well known that a popular board game has been created based on it, The Man Who Spoke Snakish is the imaginative and moving story of a boy who is tasked with preserving ancient traditions in the face of modernity. Set in a fantastical version of medieval Estonia, The Man Who Spoke Snakish follows a young boy, Leemet, who lives with his hunter-gatherer family in the forest and is the last speaker of the ancient tongue of snakish, a language that allows its speakers to command all animals.
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Treading Air by Jaan Kross


Books Set Around The World: Grenada - Pynter Bender by Jacob Ross. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

17. Grenada
Pynter Bender by Jacob Ross, 2008

Pynter Bender is a child of the cane fields of Grenada, the second smallest independent state in the world. This extraordinary debut novel tells of a boy born blind but whose eyes are healed, allowing him to see great beauty. The story charts the painful awakening of a rural population, essentially organized around serfdom, into a raw and uncertain future that can only be achieved through fighting – a civil war that Pynter is drawn in to. Pynter’s father leaves him to be brought up by the Bender women, a close-knit group of aunts and cousins, and Pynter’s early life is shaped by these women.
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The Ladies Are Upstairs by Merle Collins


Books Set Around The World: Guatemala - The Good Cripple by Rodrigo Rey Rosa. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

18. Guatemala
The Good Cripple by Rodrigo Rey Rosa, 1996

A young man, Juan Luis Luna, is kidnapped in Guatemala City and held at the bottom of a rusty, empty underground fuel tank in an abandoned gas station. The kidnappers demand a ransom; his rich father does not reply. The kidnappers threaten to cut off his son’s foot and still hear nothing. They then slice off one of Juan Luis’s toes and send it to his father, who still refuses to act.
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The President by Miguel Ángel Asturias


Books Set Around The World: Guyana - Of Marriageable Age by Sharon Maas. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

19. Guyana
Of Marriageable Age by Sharon Maas, 2014

A spellbinding story of forbidden love. Three continents, three decades, three very disparate lives. Savitri, intuitive and charismatic, grows up among the servants of a pre-war English household in Madras. Nataraj, raised as the son of an idealistic doctor in rural South India, finds life in London heady, with girls and grass easily available. Saroj, her fire hidden by outward reserve, comes of age in Guyana, South America. When her strict, orthodox Hindu father goes one step too far she finally rebels against him… and even against her gentle, apparently docile Ma. Please note: only part of this novel is set in Guyana.
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The Sly Company of People Who Care by Rahul Bhattacharya


Books Set Around The World: Ivory Coast - The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

20. Ivory Coast
The Bitter Side of Sweet by Tara Sullivan (YA), 2016

Two young boys must escape a life of slavery in modern-day Ivory Coast. Fifteen-year-old Amadou counts the things that matter. For two years what has mattered are the number of cacao pods he and his younger brother, Seydou, can chop down in a day. This number is very important. The higher the number the safer they are because the bosses won’t beat them. The higher the number the closer they are to paying off their debt and returning home to Baba and Auntie. Maybe. The problem is Amadou doesn’t know how much he and Seydou owe, and the bosses won’t tell him. The boys only wanted to make some money during the dry season to help their impoverished family. Instead they were tricked into forced labor on a plantation in the Ivory Coast; they spend day after day living on little food and harvesting beans in the hot sun – dangerous, backbreaking work. With no hope of escape, all they can do is try their best to stay alive – until Khadija comes into their lives.
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Allah is Not Obliged by Ahmadou Kourouma


Books Set Around The World: Kyrgyzstan - Jamilia by Chingiz Aitmatov. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

21. Kyrgyzstan
Jamilia by Chingiz Aitmatov, 1958

“Jamilia” is told from the point of view of a fictional Kyrgyz artist, Seit, who tells the story by looking back on his childhood. The story recounts the love between his new sister-in-law Jamilia and a local crippled young man, Daniyar, while Jamilia’s husband, Sadyk, is away at the front during World War II. Based on clues in the story, it takes place in northwestern Kyrgyzstan, presumably Talas Province. The story is backdropped against the collective farming culture which was early in its peak in that period.
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The Day Lasts More Than a Hundred Years by Chingiz Aitmatov


Books Set Around The World: Kiribati - A Pattern Of Islands by Arthur Grimble. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

22. Kiribati
A Pattern Of Islands by Arthur Grimble, 1952

The funny, charming, and self-deprecating adventure story of a young man in the Pacific. Living for thirty years in the Gilbert & Ellis Islands (now Kiribati & Tuvalu), Grimble was ultimately initiated and tattooed according to local tradition, but not before he was severely tested, as when he was used as human bait for a giant octopus. Beyond the hilarious and frightening adventure stories, A Pattern of Islands is also a true testament to the life of these Pacific islanders.
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So Many Islands: Stories from the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and Pacific by Nicholas Laughlin Please note: this is compilation of island stories, including A Child of Four Women by Marita Davies which is set on Kiribati.


Books Set Around The World: Latvia - Among the Living and the Dead: A Tale of Exile and Homecoming on the War Roads of Europe by Inara Verzemnieks. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

23. Latvia
Among the Living and the Dead: A Tale of Exile and Homecoming on the War Roads of Europe by Inara Verzemnieks, 2017

Inara Verzemnieks was raised by her Latvian grandparents in Washington State, among expatriates who scattered smuggled Latvian sand over coffins, the children singing folk songs about a land none of them had visited. Her grandmother Livija’s stories vividly recreated the home she fled during the Second World War, when she was separated from her sister, Ausma, whom she wouldn’t see again for more than fifty years. Journeying back to their remote village, Inara comes to know Ausma and her trauma as an exile to Siberia under Stalin, while reconstructing Livija’s survival through her years as a refugee. In uniting their stories, Inara honors both sisters in a haunting and luminous account of loss, survival, resilience, and love.
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With Dance Shoes in Siberian Snows by Sandra Kalniete


Books Set Around The World: Lesotho - Little Suns by Zakes Mda. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

24. Lesotho
Little Suns by Zakes Mda, 2015

It is 1903. A lame and frail Malangana – ‘Little Suns’ – searches for his beloved Mthwakazi after many lonely years spent in Lesotho. Mthwakazi was the young woman he had fallen in love with twenty years earlier, before the assassination of Hamilton Hope ripped the two of them apart. Intertwined with Malangana’s story, is the account of Hope – a colonial magistrate who, in the late nineteenth century, was undermining the local kingdoms of the eastern Cape in order to bring them under the control of the British. It was he who wanted to coerce Malangana’s king and his people, the AmaMpondomise, into joining his battle – a scheme Malangana’s conscience could not allow.
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Chaka by Thomas Mofolo


Books Set Around The World: Liberia - She Would Be King by Wayetu Moore. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

25. Liberia
She Would Be King by Wayetu Moore, 2018

A novel of exhilarating range, magical realism, and history – a dazzling retelling of Liberia’s formation. Wayétu Moore’s powerful debut novel, She Would Be King, reimagines the dramatic story of Liberia’s early years through three unforgettable characters who share an uncommon bond. Gbessa, exiled from the West African village of Lai, is starved, bitten by a viper, and left for dead, but still she survives. June Dey, raised on a plantation in Virginia, hides his unusual strength until a confrontation with the overseer forces him to flee. Norman Aragon, the child of a white British colonizer and a Maroon slave from Jamaica, can fade from sight when the earth calls him. When the three meet in the settlement of Monrovia, their gifts help them salvage the tense relationship between the African American settlers and the indigenous tribes, as a new nation forms around them.
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The House at Sugar Beach by Helene Cooper


Books Set Around The World: Libya - In the Country of Men by Hisham Matar. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

26. Libya
In the Country of Men by Hisham Matar, 2006

Libya, 1979. Nine-year-old Suleiman’s days are circumscribed by the narrow rituals of childhood: outings to the ruins surrounding Tripoli, games with friends played under the burning sun, exotic gifts from his father’s constant business trips abroad. But his nights have come to revolve around his mother’s increasingly disturbing bedside stories full of old family bitterness. And then one day Suleiman sees his father across the square of a busy marketplace, his face wrapped in a pair of dark sunglasses. Wasn’t he supposed to be away on business yet again? Why is he going into that strange building with the green shutters? Why did he lie?
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The Bleeding of the Stone by Ibrahim al-Koni


Books Set Around The World: Luxembourg - The Expats by Chris Pavone. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

27. Luxembourg
The Expats by Chris Pavone, 2012

Kate Moore is a working mother, struggling to make ends meet, to raise children, to keep a spark in her marriage and to maintain an increasingly unbearable life-defining secret. So when her husband is offered a lucrative job in Luxembourg, she jumps at the chance to leave behind her double-life, to start anew. She begins to reinvent herself as an expat, finding her way in a language she doesn’t speak, doing the housewifely things she’s never before done – play-dates and coffee mornings, daily cooking and unending laundry. Meanwhile, her husband works incessantly, doing a job Kate has never understood, for a banking client she’s not allowed to know. He’s becoming distant and evasive; she’s getting lonely and bored. Then another American couple arrives. Kate soon becomes suspicious that these people are not who they claim to be.
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Futureface by Alex Wagner (partly about Luxembourg)


Books Set Around The World: Madagascar - Beyond the Rice Fields by Naivo. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

28. Madagascar
Beyond the Rice Fields by Naivo, 2016

The first novel from Madagascar ever to be translated into English, Naivo’s magisterial Beyond the Rice Fields delves into the upheavals of the nation’s past as it confronted Christianity and modernity, through the twin narratives of a slave and his master’s daughter. Fara and her father’s slave, Tsito, have been close since her father bought the boy after his forest village was destroyed. Now in Sahasoa, amongst the cattle and rice fields, everything is new for Tsito, and Fara at last has a companion. But as Tsito looks forward to the bright promise of freedom and Fara, backward to a dark, long-denied family history, a rift opens between them just as British Christian missionaries and French industrialists arrive and violence erupts across the country. Love and innocence fall away, and Tsito and Fara’s world becomes enveloped by tyranny, superstition, and fear.
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The Aye-Aye and I by Gerald Durrell


Books Set Around The World: Malawi - The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by William Kamkwamba. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

29. Malawi
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by William Kamkwamba, 2009

William Kamkwamba was born in Malawi, a country where magic ruled and modern science was mystery. It was also a land withered by drought and hunger, and a place where hope and opportunity were hard to find. But William had read about windmills in a book called Using Energy, and he dreamed of building one that would bring electricity and water to his village and change his life and the lives of those around him. His neighbors may have mocked him and called him misala – crazy – but William was determined to show them what a little grit and ingenuity could do.
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Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood by Alexandra Fuller (partly in Malawi)


Books Set Around The World: Malta - The Kappillan of Malta by Nicholas Monsarrat. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

30. Malta
The Kappillan of Malta by Nicholas Monsarrat, 1974

As bombs pound Malta to dust, Father Salvatore – a simple priest, or kappillan, serving the poor – finds himself caught in the drama of World War Two. In the fragile safety of catacombs revealed by the explosions, he tends to the flood of homeless, starving, and frightened people seeking shelter, giving messages of inspiration and hope. His story, and that of the island, unfold in superbly graphic images of six days during the siege.
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The Information Officer by Mark Mills


Books Set Around The World: Mauritius - The Last Brother by Nathacha Appanah. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

31. Mauritius
The Last Brother by Nathacha Appanah, 2007

In The Last Brother, 1944 is coming to a close and nine-year-old Raj is unaware of the war devastating the rest of the world. He lives in Mauritius, a remote island in the Indian Ocean, where survival is a daily struggle for his family. When a brutal beating lands Raj in the hospital of the prison camp where his father is a guard, he meets a mysterious boy his own age. David is a refugee, one of a group of Jewish exiles whose harrowing journey took them from Nazi occupied Europe to Palestine, where they were refused entry and sent on to indefinite detainment in Mauritius.
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The Prospector by J.M.G. Le Clézio


Books Set Around The World: Micronesia - The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

32. Micronesia
The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara, 2013

In 1950, a young doctor called Norton Perina signs on with the anthropologist Paul Tallent for an expedition to the remote Micronesian island of Ivu’ivu in search of a rumored lost tribe. They succeed, finding not only that tribe but also a group of forest dwellers they dub “The Dreamers,” who turn out to be fantastically long-lived but progressively more senile. Perina suspects the source of their longevity is a hard-to-find turtle; unable to resist the possibility of eternal life, he kills one and smuggles some meat back to the States. He scientifically proves his thesis, earning worldwide fame and the Nobel Prize, but he soon discovers that its miraculous property comes at a terrible price. As things quickly spiral out of his control, his own demons take hold, with devastating personal consequences.
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Nowhere Slow: Eleven Years in Micronesia by Jonathan Gourlay


Books Set Around The World: Nauru - The Undesirables: Inside Nauru by Mark Isaacs. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

33. Nauru
The Undesirables: Inside Nauru by Mark Isaacs, 2014

Queue jumper, boat person, illegals. Asylum seekers are contentious front-page news but obtaining information about Australia’s regional processing centres is increasingly difficult. We learn only what the government wants us to know. Mark Isaacs worked for the Salvation Army inside the Nauru Detention Centre soon after it re-opened in 2012. He provided humanitarian aid to the men interned in the camp. What he saw there moved him to speak out. The Undesirables chronicles his time on Nauru detailing daily life and the stories of the men held there; the self-harm, suicide attempts, and riots; the rare moments of joy; the moments of deep despair. Mark’s eyewitness account humanises a political debate usually ruled by misleading rhetoric.
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Paradise for Sale: A Parable of Nature by Carl N. McDaniel


Books Set Around The World: North Korea - The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

34. North Korea
The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson, 2012

An epic novel and a thrilling literary discovery, The Orphan Master’s Son follows a young man’s journey through the icy waters, dark tunnels, and eerie spy chambers of the world’s most mysterious dictatorship, North Korea. Pak Jun Do is the haunted son of a lost mother – a singer “stolen” to Pyongyang – and an influential father who runs Long Tomorrows, a work camp for orphans. There the boy is given his first taste of power, picking which orphans eat first and which will be lent out for manual labor. Recognized for his loyalty and keen instincts, Jun Do comes to the attention of superiors in the state, rises in the ranks, and starts on a road from which there will be no return.
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Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick


Books Set Around The World: Macedonia - A Spare Life by Lidija Dimkovska. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

35. North Macedonia
A Spare Life by Lidija Dimkovska, 2012

Zlata and Srebra are 12-year-old twins conjoined at the head. It is 1984 and they live in Skopje, which will one day be the capital of Macedonia but is currently a part of Yugoslavia. A Spare Life tells the story of their childhood, from their only friend Roza to their neighbor Bogdan, so poor that he one day must eat his pet rabbit. Treated as freaks and outcasts – even by their own family – the twins just want to be normal girls. But after an incident that almost destroys their bond as sisters, they fly to London, determined to be surgically separated. Will this be their liberation, or only more tightly ensnare them?
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Pirey by Petre M. Andreevski


Books Set Around The World: Palestine - Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

36. Palestine
Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa, 2006

Forcibly removed from the ancient village of Ein Hod by the newly formed state of Israel in 1948, the Abulhejas are moved into the Jenin refugee camp. There, exiled from his beloved olive groves, the family patriarch languishes of a broken heart, his eldest son fathers a family and falls victim to an Israeli bullet, and his grandchildren struggle against tragedy toward freedom, peace, and home. This is the Palestinian story, told as never before, through four generations of a single family. The deep and moving humanity of Mornings in Jenin forces us to take a fresh look at one of the defining political conflicts of our lifetimes. 
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Salt Houses by Hala Alyan (partly set in Palestine)


Books Set Around The World: Portugal - Blindness by José Saramago. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

37. Portugal
Blindness by José Saramago, 1995

A city (unnamed) is hit by an epidemic of “white blindness” that spares no one. Authorities confine the blind to an empty mental hospital, but there the criminal element holds everyone captive, stealing food rations, and assaulting women. There is one eyewitness to this nightmare who guides her charges – among them a boy with no mother, a girl with dark glasses, a dog of tears – through the barren streets, and their procession becomes as uncanny as the surroundings are harrowing. As Blindness reclaims the age-old story of a plague, it evokes the vivid and trembling horrors of the twentieth century, leaving readers with a powerful vision of the human spirit that’s bound both by weakness and exhilarating strength. Note: this takes place in an unnamed city, but José Saramago is a Portuguese Nobel-Prize winning author.
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The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa


Books Set Around The World: Republic of the Congo - Brazzaville Beach by William Boyd. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

38. Republic of the Congo
Brazzaville Beach by William Boyd, 1995

In the heart of a civil war-torn African nation, primate researcher Hope Clearwater made a shocking discovery about apes and man… Young, alone, and far from her family in Britain, Hope Clearwater contemplates the extraordinary events that left her washed up like driftwood on Brazzaville Beach. It is here, on the distant, lonely outskirts of Africa, where she must come to terms with the perplexing and troubling circumstances of her recent past. For Hope is a survivor of the devastating cruelties of apes and humans alike. And to move forward, she must first grasp some hard and elusive truths: about marriage and madness, about the greed and savagery of charlatan science… and about what compels seemingly benign creatures to kill for pleasure alone.
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A Burnt-Out Case by Graham Greene


Books Set Around The World: Rwanda - A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali by Gil Courtemanche. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

39. Rwanda
A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali by Gil Courtemanche, 2000

A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali is a moving, passionate love story set amid the turmoil and terror of Rwanda’s genocide. All manner of Kigali residents pass their time by the pool of the Mille-Collines hotel: aid workers, Rwandan bourgeoisie, expatriates, UN peacekeepers, prostitutes. Keeping a watchful eye is Bernard Valcourt, a jaded foreign journalist, but his closest attention is devoted to Gentille, a hotel waitress with the slender, elegant build of a Tutsi. As they slip into an intense, improbable affair, the delicately balanced world around them – already devastated by AIDS–erupts in a Hutu-led genocide against the Tutsi people. Valcourt’s efforts to spirit Gentille to safety end in their separation. It will be months before he learns of his lover’s shocking fate.
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We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with Our Families by Philip Gourevitch


Books Set Around The World: Saint Lucia - Prisnms by Garth St. Omer. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

40. Saint Lucia
Prisnms by Garth St. Omer, 2015

The news of an old friend’s murder throws Eugene Coard, a St Lucian psychiatrist in the USA, into reflections on his own successful migrant’s journey. Trouble is, Coard is a devious liar and self-inventor who has turned American paranoia about race to his own advantage. A witty and satirical novel that challenges the reader to ask: just what can they believe?
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Omeros by Derek Walcott (Poetry)


Books Set Around The World: Samoa - Freelove by Sia Figiel. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

41. Samoa
Freelove by Sia Figiel, 2015

It is 1985 in Nu‘uolemanusa/Village of the Sacred Owl, Western Samoa. Madonna’s Like a Virgin rules the airwaves. Brilliant and inquisitive high school student and Star Trek fanatic, 17 ½ year old Inosia Alofafua Afatasi, is sent by her mother to the capital, Apia, to buy three giant white threads. While she waits at the bus-stop, Mr. Ioane Viliamu, her teacher of Science and Mathematics and recent graduate of the University of Papua New Guinea and the pastor’s eldest son, in turn, her spiritual brother, stops to offer her a ride in his red pick-up truck. Should she wait for the bus? Or should she accept the ride?
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Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan


Books Set Around The World: Sao Tome and Principe - Equator by Miguel Sousa Tavares. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

42. Sao Tome and Principe
Equator by Miguel Sousa Tavares, 2003

It is 1905 and Luis Bernardo Valenca, a thirty-seven-year-old bachelor and owner of a small shipping company, is revelling in Lisbon’s luxurious high society. But his life is turned upside down when King Dom Carlos invites him to become governor of Portugal’s smallest colony, the island of São Tomé e Principe. Luis Bernardo is ill-prepared for the challenges of plantation life – used to a softer urban existence, he is shocked by the conditions under which the workers labour. But with the English closing in on São Tomé’s cocoa plantations, the island’s main means of survival, Luis Bernardo must endeavour to protect the island and its community.
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Chocolate Islands: Cocoa, Slavery, and Colonial Africa by Catherine Higgs


Books Set Around The World: Sierra Leone - The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

43. Sierra Leone
The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna, 2010

In contemporary Sierra Leone, a devastating civil war has left an entire populace with secrets to keep. In the capital hospital, a gifted young surgeon is plagued by demons that are beginning to threaten his livelihood. Elsewhere in the hospital lies a dying man who was young during the country’s turbulent postcolonial years and has stories to tell that are far from heroic. As past and present intersect in the buzzing city, these men are drawn unwittingly closer by a British psychologist with good intentions, and into the path of one woman at the center of their stories.
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A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah


Books Set Around The World: Slovakia - Seeing People Off by Jana Beňová. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

44. Slovakia
Seeing People Off by Jana Beňová, 2008

Seeing People Off follows Elza and Ian, a young couple living in a humongous apartment complex outside Bratislava where the walls play music and talk, and time is immaterial. Drawing on her memories, everyday interactions, observations of post-socialist realities, and Elza’s attraction to actor, Kalisto Tanzi, Seeing People Off is a kaleidoscopic, poetic, and deeply funny portrait of a relationship.
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Rivers of Babylon by Peter Pišťanek


Books Set Around The World: Solomon Islands - Devil-Devil by Graeme Kent. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

45. Solomon Islands
Devil-Devil by Graeme Kent, 2011

It’s not easy being Ben Kella. As a sergeant in the Solomon Islands Police Force, as well as an aofia, a hereditary spiritual peacekeeper of the Lau people, he is viewed with distrust by both the indigenous islanders and the British colonial authorities. In the past few days he has been cursed by a magic man, stumbled across evidence of a cargo cult uprising, and failed to find an American anthropologist who had been scouring the mountains for a priceless pornographic icon. Then, at a mission station, Kella discovers an independent and rebellious young American nun, Sister Conchita, secretly trying to bury a skeleton. The unlikely pair of Kella and Conchita are forced to team up to solve a series of murders that tie into all these other strange goings on.
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Solomon Time: Adventures in the South Pacific by Will Randall


Books Set Around The World: Somalia - Black Mamba Boy by Nadifa Mohamed. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

46. Somalia
Black Mamba Boy by Nadifa Mohamed, 2010

Aden, Yemen, 1935; a city vibrant, alive, and full of hidden dangers. And home to Jama, a ten year-old boy. But then his mother dies unexpectedly and he finds himself alone in the world. Jama is forced home to his native Somalia, the land of his nomadic ancestors. War is on the horizon and the fascist Italian forces who control parts of East Africa are preparing for battle. Yet Jama cannot rest until he discovers whether his father, who has been absent from his life since he was a baby, is alive somewhere. And so begins an epic journey which will take Jama north through Djibouti, war-torn Eritrea and Sudan, to Egypt. And from there, aboard a ship transporting Jewish refugees just released from German concentration camps, across the seas to Britain and freedom.
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A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout


Books Set Around The World: Suriname - The Free Negress Elisabeth by Cynthia McLeod. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

47. Suriname
The Free Negress Elisabeth by Cynthia McLeod, 2000

Elisabeth Samson, a free black Surinamese woman who lived in 18th-century Dutch Guyana, is the central character in this compelling novel. Challenging the prevailing racial stereotypes by demonstrating her intelligence and business acumen, she is determined to marry a white man in defiance of all established norms and conventions. Set amidst the rich backdrop of the Golden Age of Suriname, this biographical account depicts the complex social and racial stratifications which were features of slave colonies of the era as well as this remarkable woman who overcame institutionalized discrimination and prejudice to become one of the wealthiest individuals in the slave colony of Dutch Guyana.
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We Slaves of Suriname by Anton de Kom


Books Set Around The World: Tajikistan - The Disobedient Wife by Annika Milisic-Stanley. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

48. Tajikistan
The Disobedient Wife by Annika Milisic-Stanley, 2015

The Disobedient Wife intertwines the narratives of a naïve, British expatriate, Harriet, and that of her maid Nargis, who possesses an inner strength that Harriet comes to admire as their lives begin to unravel against a backdrop of violence and betrayal. Through Harriet’s journal, we see Tajikistan through the eyes of an ex-secretary and diplomat’s wife.  She is blissfully unaware of the underground Islamism that threatens the stability of the iron regime and ignorant to the hardships that face the ordinary people in her employ.
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Lands of Lost Borders: Out of Bounds on the Silk Road by Kate Harris (partly in Tajikistan)


Books Set Around The World: The Gambia - Reading the Ceiling by Dayo Forster. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

49. The Gambia
Reading the Ceiling by Dayo Forster, 2007

Ayodele has just turned eighteen and has decided, having now reached womanhood, that the time is right to lose her virginity. She’s drawn up a shortlist: Reuben, the fail safe; a long-admired school friend; and Frederick Adams, the 42-year-old, soon-to-be-pot-bellied father of her best friend. What she doesn’t know is that her choice of suitor will have a drastic effect on the rest of her life. Three men. Three paths.
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Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley


Books Set Around The World: Togo - Do They Hear You When You Cry by Fauziya Kassindja. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

50. Togo
Do They Hear You When You Cry by Fauziya Kassindja, 1998

For Fauziya Kassindja, an idyllic childhood in Togo, West Africa, sheltered from the tribal practices of polygamy and genital mutilation, ended with her beloved father’s sudden death.  Forced into an arranged marriage at age seventeen, Fauziya was told to prepare for kakia, the ritual also known as female genital mutilation.  It is a ritual no woman can refuse.  But Fauziya dared to try.  This is her story–told in her own words–of fleeing Africa just hours before the ritual kakia was to take place, of seeking asylum in America only to be locked up in U.S.  prisons, and of meeting Layli Miller Bashir, a law student who became Fauziya’s friend and advocate during her horrifying sixteen months behind bars.
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The Village of Waiting by George Packer


Books Set Around The World: Tonga - Tales of the Tikongs by Epeli Hauʻofa. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

51. Tonga
Tales of the Tikongs by Epeli Hauʻofa, 1988

Tiko, a tiny island in the Pacific Ocean, faces a tidal wave of D-E-V-E-L-O-P-M-E-N-T, which threatens to demolish ancestral ways and the human spirit. From Sione, who prefers to play cards with his secretary during work hours, to Ole Pasifikiwei, who masters the twists and turns of international funding games, all of the characters in these pages are seasoned surfers, capable of riding the biggest wave to shore. These are not stories of fatal impact so much as upbeat tales of indigenous responses to cultural and economic imperialism. Epeli Hauofa uses devices derived from oral storytelling to create a South Pacific voice that is lucid, hilarious, and compassionate in a work that has long been regarded as a milestone in Pacific literature.
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Voyages by Cathy A. Small


Books Set Around The World: Uzbekistan - A Carpet Ride to Khiva: Seven Years on the Silk Road by Christopher Aslan Alexander. For more books that inspire travel visit www.taleway.com. reading challenge 2020, world reading challenge, world books, books around the world, travel inspiration, world travel, novels set around the world, world novels, books and travel, travel reads, travel books, reading list, books to read, books set in different countries, reading challenge ideas

52. Uzbekistan
A Carpet Ride to Khiva: Seven Years on the Silk Road by Christopher Aslan Alexander, 2010

Accompanied by a large parrot, a ginger cat, and his adoptive Uzbek family, Christopher Aslan Alexander recounts the sheer magic of Uzbek culture alongside his efforts to rediscover the lost arts of traditional carpet making and establish a self-sufficient carpet workshop offering employment to local women and disabled people. Christopher Aslan Alexander was born in Turkey and grew up in war-torn Beirut. He now lives in the Pamir Mountains. 
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The Railway by Hamid Ismailov


What do you think of the World Reading Challenge?

Have you read any of these books before? Are you planning to try the world reading challenge? Do you have a recommendation for a great book (or country) I’ve missed? What are you reading this year? I’d love to hear more about your ideas for this world reading challenge in the comments below!

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6 comments
  1. Thanks to you, I have now read 91 books in my “Reading the World” challenge, which I started a year and a half ago. I do not have a deadline to complete the challenge, as I read other books as well, having read 112 books last year. Reading the world, however, is the most rewarding of my reads.
    Thank you for more great book suggestions.

    1. Hi Betty-Lou, what an incredible achievement! Thanks so much for your kind words, you’ve just made my day! It makes me so happy to hear that others are finding it just as rewarding as I am. I’m exactly the same, I spend a fair amount of my time reading other books outside of this challenge too. Wishing you a wonderful year of reading ahead, I really hope you find some new titles in this list to love! 🙂

  2. Is there a way to just print the titles, to use as a checklist? I would still keep the email handy that provides the summaries.

    1. Hi Leslie, thanks for asking! I haven’t put together a printable checklist just yet, but plan to very soon. I’ll add it to the blog post here! 🙂

  3. I am just getting to know this challenge and I have not read any of the books. I will start as soon as possible. Reading is knowledge and intelligence. Let’s do this my people.

    1. Hi Kendricks, thanks for stopping by. So glad you’re planning to join us, wishing you all the best with the challenge! 🙂

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