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Around the World in 12 Books Challenge - 2013 Line-up

I’ve really enjoyed the Around the World in 12 Books Challenge this year – only two more books to go! – so I’m keen to do it again and have others join me in trekking across the globe vicariously through the books we read.

Unlike other globe-trotting challenges, this one specifies the countries we visit. In 2012, we stopped by the following countries:

South Africa (January)
Bangladesh (February)
Guatemala (March)
Tanzania (April)
Cuba (May)
Germany (June)
Iran (July)
Mexico (August)
Philippines (September)
Denmark (October)
Peru (November)
Iceland (December)

Some of these countries, like Tanzania, were challenging to find books for, but not impossible. It is something to keep in mind, though, now that it’s time to suggest some countries for next year’s challenge.

The challenge is quite simple: to read at least 1 book from the designated country, during the assigned month. In reading and writing our reviews, we consider the following:

1. What did you learn about the country’s culture, history etc. from reading this book? Any new insights, any shifts in your perception, or did it align with what you knew/understood already?

2. How did land, geography, flora and fauna feature in the book? Did it have a distinct feel that helped you visualise and made you feel like you were there, or was the story more focused on plot?

3. Did the story make you want to visit/revisit the country, or explore it in a new way if you live there already; did it make you want to read more stories set in the country?

We want to hit the main areas or continents at least once, ideally, and I need your help in picking countries, so please suggest countries for the following areas:

    Oceania (Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica etc.)
    Asia
    Africa
    Middle East (I’m separating this from Africa and Europe)
    Europe
    South America
    Caribbean/Central America
    North America

Otherwise, the challenge has some very simple rules:

1. Books must be set in the country. (For help, try this website, and also check out the lists people compile on Goodreads.)
2. Books should be by an author of that country, if you can find/get hold of one, but foreign authors are okay too.
3. Books must be fiction or memoir. Children’s and YA fiction count too, but not genre fiction (with the exception of literary crime).
4. Books can count towards other challenges.

Thank you for your help in setting up the challenge, and making it so much more fun by participating! Please leave your country suggestions in the comments, and I’ll update this post with a final list in about a month.

Sign up here for the Around the World in 12 Books Challenge 2013:

EDIT: Updated to include the list of 12 countries we will be “travelling” to over the course of the year:

JANUARY = France
FEBRUARY = Sudan
MARCH = Wales
APRIL = South Pacific Islands
MAY = Belgium
JUNE = South Korea
JULY = Israel
AUGUST = Palestine
BRAZIL
OCTOBER = China
NOVEMBER = Egypt
DECEMBER = Argentina

There are several websites you can check when looking for books (just google “books set in…”), including this one on Goodreads. (Thanks Jess for that link!)

56 comments to Around the World in 12 Books Challenge – 2013 Line-up

  • This sounds great! I think I’d like to try it. Suggesttions off the top of my head to throw into the hat: Mexico, Wales(or is that too regional?), Mongolia, Egypt, Turkey. Oh – and Brazil.
    Barb in B.C. recently posted..Review: The Way of a Gardener by Des KennedyMy Profile

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    @Barb in B.C., We can definitely include Wales as a country! Great suggestions Barb, thanks!

    [Reply]

  • I am definitely in for next year!
    A few suggestions off the top of my head, just based on my interests: Fiji, Italy, Russia, Greece, Sudan, Madagascar, Argentina…I haven’t looked them all up yet to see how many books are actually available in those countries though!
    Not sure if you’d count it as a country, but I’ve also always been interested in reading something set in Bermuda. I know, more of a territory though…
    Kelly recently posted..Book Review: Dreams From My Father by Barack ObamaMy Profile

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    @Kelly, Great!

    Ooh Fiji, never thought of that one for some reason! What a great list.

    Y’know I don’t think I actually know what Bermuda is. I never thought of it before, but who does it “belong” to? I don’t see any problems being regional – especially considering it’s probably the only way the USA is ever going to make the list, if we picked a specific state or territory.

    [Reply]

  • Bermuda is affiliated with the UK, but I don’t know if it’s a territory or some other designation.
    Kelly recently posted..Book Review: Dreams From My Father by Barack ObamaMy Profile

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    @Kelly, I had no idea! Learnt something new today. I had had a vague idea it was in the Caribbean somewhere…

    I looked it up on wikipedia and it says it’s a territory. We can certainly include territories, as long as we get a good spread of countries across the world.

    [Reply]

  • I’m still doubting if I should take part.
    I want to, but as I live in Belgium, my acess to English books is not great (unless you want to pay a big amount of money) and we have a lot of books translated to Dutch, but not that many. So I’m not sure yet, but it seems great!

    Sugestion: Belgium or the Netherlands. We have a great culture, although we’re little countries. And we have more than french fries and bicycles!
    Katrien recently posted..Duivels dagboekMy Profile

    [Reply]

    Katrien Reply:

    @Katrien, Oops typo: access!
    Katrien recently posted..Duivels dagboekMy Profile

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    @Katrien, I hope you can join us, Katrien, but I can see it might be tricky to do all 12. You could always just tackled the ones you’re able to – there’s no “fail” on this challenge! Just out of curiosity, can you order English-language books through the Book Depository? Not for translations but the originals. Or do you still have to pay more than we would? I’ve already discovered the joys of VAT at the checkout when sending books to a friend in Denmark!

    [Reply]

    Katrien Reply:

    @Shannon, No, I don’t have to pay more, so that’s an option indeed. I also have an e-reader, so there books aren’t that exepensive as well.
    The only concern is, if I’m not sure about a book (means: haven’t heard much about it before) I do not want to buy it and like more to borrow it iinstead.
    However, my library has English novels, but mostly bestsellers.

    The good new is you’ve convinced me to join in! I’ll do my best to find nice books and I think if I do a bit of research I will be able to do most or perhaps all the countries.
    Thanks for your encouraging reply!

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    @Katrien, I can totally understand that you’d want to borrow them. So glad you’re joining in, Katrien, and I hope you can find some good books for it. 🙂

    [Reply]

  • Urk! It’s only November and I’m committing to my erm, 3rd(?) challenge for 2013! This bodes well for completion, NOT! LOL

    I second Egypt!
    Vietnam / South Korea / Indonesia are my Asian suggestions
    Ooh, Israel? Netherlands /Poland?
    Tien recently posted..Review: Glimmer in the MaelstromMy Profile

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    @Tien, Ha ha, it’s like a compulsion or something isn’t it? 😉 These days I’ve become good at limiting myself, but it’s hard to say no to them!

    Great suggestions, they’re going on the list! I don’t think we’ll have any trouble picking 12 countries for this challenge. 🙂

    [Reply]

    Tien Reply:

    @Shannon, Yup! I’ve just committed to the category challenge yesterday (used to be 12 in 12?) but lucky me, I’ve actually included a European Tour and Indonesia as 2 separate categories ;p

    And yes, I’ve got my books lined up too!! *totally obsessed*
    Tien recently posted..Review: Glimmer in the MaelstromMy Profile

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    @Tien, Sounds like you can hit several challenges at once then!

    I’m like you, I have to plot out my books ahead of time for challenges like this one. It’s pretty much the only thing I obsess over! 😉

    [Reply]

  • Yay, I’m excited to join in next year. My suggestions: Kazakhstan, Sweden, South Korea, North Korea, New Zealand.
    Tanya Patrice recently posted..10 Favorite Books of Bloggers {The 2012 Book Blogger Recommendation Challenge – Finished}My Profile

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    @Tanya Patrice, Ooh, nice! See, I would never have thought of those countries all by myself! Thrilled to have you join, Tanya!

    [Reply]

  • Ok, I am COMMITTED 😛 Thanks for letting me know, Shannon. I am excited! I’d really like to get something from Asia in there (trying to read closer to home!) – maybe Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand … but no idea of any specific books.

    I’m going through The Man Asian Literary Prize list and I am just drawing a blank. This is gonna take some research 🙂
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Man_Asian_Literary_Prize
    aloi @guiltlessreading recently posted..Amazing "Where the WIld Things Are" TattoosMy Profile

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    @aloi @guiltlessreading, Great! Thanks for the country suggestions, I can see already that coming up with countries isn’t going to be a problem (but deciding which ones to include will be! Well, there’s always future years, right?)

    The Man Asian Literary Prize is a great idea for a place to find books – though literary authors don’t always set their books in their own countries, do they (a lot of historical fiction and other things in prize longlists, isn’t there!).

    [Reply]

  • I’m interested in doing this, but I think it will depend on the countries chosen! My thoughts were Jamaica, Kenya, Japan, China, Ireland, and France.
    Christina recently posted..Tune in Tuesday with Katelyn: Singing death or gloryMy Profile

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    @Christina, Fair enough. 🙂 I hope you take part, though you certainly don’t have to do every month/country. I never finished Tanzania, y’know. Good suggestions, Christina, and now I’ve realised I missed off an area from my list above (the Caribbean) – I’ll have to go and edit that in!

    [Reply]

  • For my two cents (although there’s a lot of “oh, and!” in my head as well): Nigeria would give me a great excuse to finally get around to Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. I’ve also got books languishing in the TBR pile from China and North Korea. Argentina also holds some interest for me, as do any of the countries that formerly made up Yugoslavia. Oh, and pretty much any other country that would happen to get picked…

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    @Daniel, I wanted to get all those countries on the list, Daniel, but some will have to wait till 2014. I’ve never read anything by Chinua Achebe – I don’t think I have any of his books, though I’d have to check. It was a toss-up between Sudan and Nigeria…

    [Reply]

  • The challenge sounds wonderful – especially the idea that each month is dedicated to a country, so that all who participate then “travel” together to a degree.

    As to countries, my favs from the suggested countries so far are: China, Egypt, Russia and Fiji (i was there once!). I would be interested in reading a title from the Man Asian Prize list, too – i just looked, the 2011 prize winner is from South Korea, and her novel is set in Seoul, i just added that to my reads.

    Some other countries i would suggest, from Europe: Spain; from Africa: Sudan, and from South America: Brazil (which is also Guest of Honor at the International Book Fair in Frankfurt in October ’14), but in general i am open to any country and looking forward to this book journey.
    Dorothee recently posted..Life In A DayMy Profile

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    @Dorothee, Thanks for the Fiji suggestion, Dorothee, I needed a country for the Australia-Oceania region. I’ve never read any books set there (and I’ve never been there myself), so it should be fun!

    [Reply]

  • I’d be thrilled to read something set in Island, Ireland, New Zealand or India! Although I’m looking forward to any your suggestions! =)

    [Reply]

    Arenel Reply:

    And ooops, link 11 wasn’t showing when I linked up, so now there are two links( Could you please delete link num. 11? I had no intention to spam)

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    I’m not sure I can edit the list, Arenal – thought I could but it doesn’t look like it. I think you can remove a link though – there’s a link in the widget box, it says “Click here for Mister Linky’s name/URL cookie removal tool.” I think that’s how you can remove the extra link. Sorry about that, I’m not too clued in on how these widgets work!

    [Reply]

    Arenel Reply:

    @Shannon, I tried to do this before writing the comment, and now when I click this “here” it writes “you have nothing stored”, but the links are still there… That’s why I thought it’s waiting for your approval or something. I’m also not an expert in this, sorry 🙁 Well, in the worst case you’ll have two of me, and I can only promise to participate twice more actively =)

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    @Arenel, Well it honestly doesn’t bother me, Arenel! Duplicate links happen, no one will care! Just happy to have you join us 🙂

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    @Arenel, Fixed! Haven’t needed to do that before but it’s good to know how, now. 🙂

    [Reply]

    Arenel Reply:

    @Shannon, oh, good, thanks! BTW, a very nice list of countries! I’ve already chosen Jan and Feb books)Sudan was a tricky one, but at least now I know where it is =) I’m not very good in geography)
    Arenel recently posted..Team 1001 Introductory PostMy Profile

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    I haven’t yet started looking into Sudan yet. I have lots of choice for books for France at least (it’ll be hard to decide though!). I have to go through what’s here and see what countries I’ve already got covered, and then start researching the others properly. 🙂

    [Reply]

  • My ideas for the list are Italy and Tasmania (Australia)! For Italy, I can already recommend The Girl in the Glass for anyone who hasn’t read it. The focus of the book is Florence, Italy. If nothing else it would be a great re-read. Loved it. (can find a review and quotes from the book on my blog!)

    [Reply]

    Arenel Reply:

    @Jess Wigal, +1 to Tasmania! Or Australia in general!

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    @Jess Wigal, I would love to include my home state, I’m just not sure how many Tasmanian books are available outside Australia. Sadly, Australian novels don’t often get snapped up in publishing deals overseas. 🙁

    [Reply]

  • That’s interesting I didn’t realize that’s where you was from when I posted! I did try to research that just a little from your link to Books Set In…. The list in general for Tasmania is rather short and like you said, I’m not sure how easy they would be to obtain.

    [Reply]

  • As a christian I’m looking forward to the Holy Land (Israel) in July and April in Fiji sounds quite interesting!

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    @Jess Wigal, Several people nominated Israel, and I have quite a few books set there myself. 🙂 I felt that we couldn’t do Israel without also doing Palestine.

    [Reply]

  • Awesome List!! woohoo, now I can start planning my reads, ha ha ha…
    well, at least for Jan & Feb to fit in with my other reading challenged 😀

    France… hhhmmm, I’ve just finished Les Mis! But I think, a re-read of The Scarlet Pimpernel is in order!
    Tien recently posted..Random Reads (December 2012)My Profile

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    @Tien, Wow you read Les Mis?! I’m impressed! I did finally get a copy recently, but I don’t think I’ll be reading that for January – I’ll pick something slimmer! 😉 Scarlet Pimpernel was a fun read.

    [Reply]

  • Awesome list, very psyched!

    [Reply]

  • […] wavered a lot before taking the plunge, but I’ve finally decided to join the Around the World in 12 Books Challenge at Giraffe […]

  • http://www.goodreads.com/places is also a good place to find books set in each country. This is based on the setting listed in book details – not compiled by readers.

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    @Jess Wigal, Excellent! Thanks for the link Jess, that’ll be really helpful!

    [Reply]

  • Jess, yes, that is an awesome link! thanks for sharing, i just bookmarked it.
    Dorothee recently posted..Island reads 3: a 1000 splendid suns, flat lands, and a trip across America with SteinbeckMy Profile

    [Reply]

  • Thought I share: to prepare for the challenges, i now started to sort a part of my bookshelf by continents. Really excited now for January, and if anyone is looking for an interesting book for France: while sorting I came across the wonderful Paris memoir anthology: “Paris was Ours – 32 essays on living in Paris”, here’s more: http://bit.ly/UH23Cx – and here’s a photo of my re-sorted shelf: http://bit.ly/TWRjUw 🙂
    Dorothee recently posted..day 3: reading challenges 2013 & sorting books by continents & finding books by placeMy Profile

    [Reply]

  • […] ik heb mezelf onderworpen aan een uitdaging, maar dn iets helemaal anders, nl. de Around the world in 12 books challenge van Shannon van Giraffe Days. Ik zal proberen elke maand een boek uit een ander land te lezen. Er […]

  • […] the World in 12 Books: http://www.giraffedays.com/?p=14723 (read a book from a different country each […]

  • Quick note: Tanya made the suggestion that we change Fiji to the South Pacific Islands since it was so hard to find anything set just in Fiji, which I thought was a great idea so I’ve updated the list accordingly. This will give you lots of choice, including:

    Fiji
    Vanuatu
    Papua New Guinea
    Solomon Islands
    Tonga
    New Caledonia
    etc.

    Stick close to Indonesia and New Zealand, and leave out Samoa and Hawaii etc. – I think we can safely link those to North America and Central America.

    [Reply]

  • […] won’t be participating in it, but I will admit to being super tempted by the Around the World in 12 Books challenge at Giraffe Days. If she didn’t exclude genre fiction I probably would have given it […]

  • Very Cool Idea! I did something similar to this one year — I read a book by an author from each of the 50 states. I didn’t quite finish but I’m still working down the list. I’m thinking about joining in 🙂

    [Reply]

  • Hi Shannon,
    I would love to join this book challenge. I’m new to blogging and am wondering if you need me to sign up for the challenge, or is it fine to simply post my review every month in the designated area? Also, I’m still learning about blog etiquette – so please let me know if you prefer that I mention the challenge/post the image and link to your website, etc, each time I review a book for this challenge.

    Thanks for hosting. I’m excited to get started!
    Sarah recently posted..Memorable Books from 2012My Profile

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    Hi Sarah, great to have you join us!

    You don’t have to sign up here, that’s perfectly fine, you can follow the challenge as loosely as you like. It is nice to link back to the challenge on your reviews (on your own blog), as well as including a link to your review on the monthly country post – linking is the best way for people to find your blog, new books etc., and it’s also a courtesy thing I like to think. 🙂 If you wanted to, you could check out how other people do it, for some ideas, but there are no rules to it.

    [Reply]

  • I missed out on July and August, but now i am back for Brazil, with a new collection of Young Brazilian novelists by Granta, i blogged about it here, still some stories to read: http://virtual-notes.blogspot.de/2013/09/reading-in-france-balzac-via-china-best.html
    And i just came across a book from the largest city of Brazil, Sao Paulo – a memoir that takes you right there, it’s free for download currently: “American Exbrat in São Paulo”. http://www.amazon.com/American-Exbrat-S%C3%A3o-Paulo-ebook/dp/B00C5UM628/ref=zg_bs_159936011_f_10
    Dorothee recently posted..sky friday: never seen beforeMy Profile

    [Reply]

  • […] 7 Billion People, 7 Books@ Life As A Journey – Around the World in 12 Books Challenge 2013 @ Giraffe Days – Books in Translation Reading Challenge @ The Introverted […]

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