Read Around the World: Afghanistan to Aruba

We’re starting a new blog series today and we’re going to read around the world, featuring a book from every country in the world. We’ll work alphabetically through all 225 countries in the world and add in some smaller countries and islands too, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe!

We’ll work alphabetically so today we’re starting with the As, as we read our way from Aghanistan to Aruba! Join us on our literary world trip as we read around the world in more than 200 books.


The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, caught in the tragic sweep of history, The Kite Runner transports readers to Afghanistan at a tense and crucial moment of change and destruction. A powerful story of friendship, it is also about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.

The Kite Runner

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Broken April – Ismail Kadare

Gjorg is a young mountaineer who (much against his will) has just killed a man in order to avenge the death of his older brother, and who expects to be killed himself in accordance with the Code that regulates life in the Albanian highlands. A young couple on their honeymoon has come to this place to study its age-old customs-including the blood feud.

Broken April

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What the Day Owes the Night – Yasmina Khadra

Younes’ life is changed forever when his poverty-stricken parents surrender him to the care of his more affluent uncle. Renamed Jonas, he grows up in a colourful colonial Algerian town, and forges a unique friendship with a group of boys, an enduring bond that nothing – not even the Algerian Revolt – will shake. He meets Emilie – a beautiful, beguiling girl who captures the hearts of all who see her – and an epic love story is set in motion. Time and again Jonas is forced to to choose between two worlds: Algerian or European; past or present; love or loyalty, and finally decide if he will surrender to fate or take control of his own destiny at last.

What the Day Owes the Night

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The Road to Andorra – Shirley Dean

Published in 1960, this is the account of the Australian writer’s time with her artist husband and two young sons in Andorra and in Ibiza.

Both places are on the cusp of modern life: but as Deane describes the costumes and folklore, the Andorran boys taking the cows to pasture, the weekly excitement of the baker’s van – you could be back in ancient times.

When husband Malcolm gets work on an Ibizan pig farm, they relocate – and here we have the comic tale of Deane’s struggle to cross over to the isle with their large dog; attending a pig killing party, and a brief trip to neighbouring Formentera.

But when suddenly and unexpectedly ejected from Spain (one of her earlier works about Malaga had caused offence), they find themselves crossing back into Andorra and victims of a dastardly crime: finding a policeman was “no easy task in a country where the total force including the standing army, numbers twelve.”

The Road to Andorra

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Rainy Season – Jose Eduardo-Agualusa

In this depiction of the devastating history of a country tormented by 30 years of conflict, a journalist investigates the mysterious disappearance of Angolan poetess and historian Lídia do Carmo Ferreira, who vanished from Luanda as the civil war flared up with unprecedented ferocity when the rebel movement refused to accept defeat in the country’s first democratic election. A fictive biography of Ferreira’s life, this tangled mesh of fact and fiction uses the disillusionment of its two protagonists to re-create the disappointment of an entire nation in turmoil. A careful translation of one of the strongest writers in the Portuguese language today, this novel portrays the agony of a country’s struggle for independence.

Rainy Season

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Under an English Heaven – D. E. Westlake

In early 1969, word reached London that the little Caribbean island of Anguilla had become a hotbed of rebellion and a haven for gangsters.

Such flagrant disregard for the rule of law in one of Britain’s last remaining overseas outposts could not be allowed to stand.

And so Her Majesty’s government acted decisively, dispatching a force of three hundred paratroopers and commandos backed by warships, helicopters and fifty of the Metropolitan Police’s finest.

But their mission soon descended into farce. On arrival, the troops were welcomed by several bemused islanders, many reporters from around the world, and a handful of entirely indifferent goats. But absolutely no resistance whatsoever.

Under an English Heaven

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A Small Place – Jamaica Kincaid

Lyrical, sardonic, and forthright, A Small Place magnifies our vision of one small place with Swiftian wit and precision. Jamaica Kincaid’s expansive essay candidly appraises the ten-by-twelve-mile island in the British West Indies where she grew up, and makes palpable the impact of European colonization and tourism. The book is a missive to the traveler, whether American or European, who wants to escape the banality and corruption of some large place. Kincaid, eloquent and resolute, reminds us that the Antiguan people, formerly British subjects, are unable to escape the same drawbacks of their own tiny realm—that behind the benevolent Caribbean scenery are human lives, always complex and often fraught with injustice.

A Small Place

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The Tango Singer – Tomas Eloy Martinez

Bruno Cadogan has flown from New York to Buenos Aires in search of the elusive and legendary Julio Martel, a tango singer whose voice has never been recorded yet is said to be so beautiful it is almost supernatural. Bruno is increasingly drawn to the mystery of Martel and his strange and evocative performances in a series of apparently arbitrary sites around the city. As Bruno tries to find Martel, he begins to untangle the story of the singer’s life, and to believe that Martel’s increasingly rare performances map a dark labyrinth of the city’s past.

The Tango Singer

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The Spice Box Letters – Eve Makis

Katerina inherits a scented, wooden spice box after her grandmother Mariam dies. It contains letters and a diary, written in Armenian. As she pieces together her family story, Katerina learns that Mariam’s childhood was shattered by the Armenian tragedy of 1915.

Mariam was exiled from her home in Turkey and separated from her beloved brother, Gabriel, her life marred by grief and the loss of her first love. Dissatisfied and restless, Katerina tries to find resolution in her own life as she completes Mariam’s story – on a journey that takes her across Cyprus and then half a world away to New York.

Color Outside the Lines

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Nights in Aruba – Andrew Holleran

This groundbreaking LGBT novel centers around Paul, an uneasy commuter between two parallel worlds. He is the dutiful son of aging, upper-middle-class parents living in Florida, and a homosexual man plunged deliriously into the world of New York City’s bars, baths, and one-night stands. With wry humor and subtle lyricism, Holleran reveals the tragedy and comedy of one man’s struggle to come to terms with middle age, homosexuality, truth, love, and life itself.

Nights in Aruba

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We hope you enjoyed the first list in this new blog series, we’ll be back with the next journey through literature in a few days, starting with Australia

As the series continues, you can try this search to find the rest of the blogs in this series.

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