Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Reading Around the World

Inspired by Weekly Geeks 26, I went through the books I've read so far in 2009 to see what parts of the world I've been reading about. I was particularly interested in seeing whether the results would reflect my focus on diversifying my reading. I wondered if reading more authors of color had impacted the geography of my reading choices. I guess in order to answer that I'd have to compare 2009 with 2008, wouldn't I?

This is what I came up with, combining fiction and nonfiction:
North America: The United States, Canada, Mexico
Central America/Carribbean: The Dominican Republic (Never did finish Oscar Wao, but I'm still counting it), El Salvador, Puerto Rico
South America: Ecuador, Peru, Chile
Africa: Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Morocco, Uganda
Europe: France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Northern Ireland, and England
Middle East/Asia: Iraq, China, Japan, India, Vietnam

Australia and the Pacific is conspicuously missing from my list--I read an entire series by an Australian author (The Ranger's Apprentice), but I didn't count it because it doesn't take place there. I'm surprised that Asia and the Middle East are so under-represented, too. I'd like to read more from those regions, at some point.

The map doesn't show it, but the vast majority of books I read this year take place in the U.S.--most of the other countries have only one or two books on my have-read-in-09 list. I love learning about other cultures through reading, but I also love reading books that take place closer to home, especially those written by local authors. It's all about finding that balance, I guess!

What about you? Do you seek out books that take place in other places, or do you prefer to stick closer to home in your reading adventures?


  1. Interesting post! The books I've read in 2009 have taken place in 7 different countries. Most of the books I've read take place in the U.S. too. After doing this, I really want to read more books that take place in foreign countries.

    I don't really have a preference over reading stories close to home or far away. It really just depends on my mood.

  2. Yep, that's the trick isn't it? Balance. Of stretching books and comfortable books, of books close to home and books from afar. Balance, moderation. These things are hard. I'm with you, though, in that I like both.

  3. I really don't go out of my way to buy books from authors of different origin... or books based in other parts of countries... But I wish I would do that!

    I think I have mostly been to Israel, South America, India[ that's were I am from], Japan and Washington DC :)

    I guess I will look into more country based reading!

    Your list is impressive!

  4. Most of the books I read were set in the US. But I also went to the bottom of the sea, to several third world countries, to Japan and China, to a fictional African country (and a real one), to an island in the South Pacific in the future, on a trip around Europe, to ancient Rhodes, lots of places around the UK, Barcelona...

  5. Ali, we need to correct the lack of Australian novels. You could look for Adrian Hyland's DIAMOND DOVE (aka MOONLIGHT DOWNS) - it is crime fiction but with an insight into aboriginal matters, or Peter Temple's THE BROKEN SHORE.

  6. Okay, I got motivated to complete my map and post after reading here. How did I not comment?

    Definitely sorely lacking in South America. Will be asking for recommendations.

    Enjoyed this assignment. I still have to write my Roll Call.

  7. Thank you, Kerrie, I'll take a look at those. I definitely need to remedy that hole!

    Susan, I can't help much with South American fiction--the 3 countries on my list were from one nonfiction book, Alpine America.

  8. This is a great Geeks theme! It's also got me wondering a bit off on a tangent - I wonder how many of the US States I've been to in my reading? just curious... (I'm right now all over South&North Dakota/Nebraska/Wyoming territory.)

  9. Oh no, don't get me started, Care! I could spend an hour figuring that out! (I will not challenge myself to read all 50 states. I will not challenge myself to read all 50 states. I will not--) I wonder if I could read all 50 states? And each of the Canadian provinces and territories?

  10. Ali,

    This is a great topic. I love reading about other cultures. I even came up with a weekly feature called Take Me Away to highlight books that readers can get to broaden their reading horizons, so to speak. You can find all the posts here.
    Hope you find some titles that interest you!